Lenovo's Smart Tab M10 HD (2nd Gen) makes for a great budget tablet, but unfortunately falls short as a smart display.
Lenovo’s Smart Tab M10 HD (2nd Gen) with Google Assistant is a really tempting purchase at just over $100. And if you’re on team Google Assistant, it’s even more tempting. This 2-in-1 tablet features a dock that turns it into a beautiful 10.1″ high definition Google Nest Hub. It costs half the price of Nest Hub Max and offers a smaller bezel, sleeker features, and a lot of extra features considering it doubles as a fully capable Android 10 tablet. At this point, you are probably thinking what I thought: Why buy a Google Nest Hub if you can buy a Lenovo Smart Tab? Because there are some caveats. Let’s dive in…
Using it as a tablet
First and foremost, this device operates as a completely “normal” Android Tablet. It looks and feels phenomenal for its budget price too. It’s thin, light, and durable with only a thin black bezel running around the screen. It weighs less than a pound, measures .32″ thick, and is covered in a beautiful aluminum alloy body. Tech specs are pretty decent too: 1280×800 LCD with 400 nits of brightness, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, Bluetooth 5.0, Octa-Core 2.3GHz processor, and 802.11AC WiFi. There’s an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front-facing camera. The cameras may not win any awards but they’re more than suitable for a tablet.
There weren’t any real surprises using the M10 as a tablet. It felt a little sluggish at times and doesn’t always have the smoothest transitions, but it’s very usable and does just about anything you’d expect from an Android Tablet. Casual tablet users should have no issues. As an iPhone/iOS user, I didn’t find the user interface and touch gestures to be the most intuitive, but got used to it pretty quickly, and also Android is good about configuring the default settings.
Using it as a Smart Home Display
The included charging dock is what converts this sleek tablet into a beautiful Google Assistant “Smart Tab”. It has an always-on display with some daily updates and a few controls. It can cycle through photos while it’s not taking your commands and answering questions. It seems to be able to answer just about anything a Nest Hub can, but it can’t display all of the same stuff.
You can set alarms, reminders, manage your calendar, control your smart devices, and get answers to pretty much any question you have. It has a few less native features than Nest Hub and instead relies on Android Apps. If you want to play a video it will open the YouTube app. If you want to play a playlist on Spotify, you will need to install the Spotify app. The saddest missing feature for us is the ability to display Nest cameras or our doorbell camera. You’ll find M10 is less of a Nest Hub and more of a Google Assistant app. In fact, this particular Google feature is not even unique to Lenovo, it uses a newer Android feature called “Ambient” and can be enabled on most newer phones and tablets.
Despite missing some Nest Hub features, we found two major drawbacks. Smart Tab M10 is marketed as having “Dolby Atmos-enabled stereo speakers”, however, the audio quality is really poor. It’s tinny, shrill, and lacking in volume and bass. The audio quality on our iPhone or even the Google Nest Mini is much better. The other big drawback is that we couldn’t get the “Ambient” Google Assistant to stay on full-time. Google Assistant is supposed to stay on as long as the tablet is charging, but eventually, the screen goes black. This may not be everyone’s experience but it was a big bummer for us, and there was no clear solution. At the end of the day, if what you’re looking for is a true Smart Home Display with Google Assistant, then you should consider Lenovo’s very own Smart Display.
To sum up Lenovo Smart Tab M10 with Google Assistant — we’d recommend it if you are in the market for an inexpensive tablet. With the included “Kids Mode” interface, it’s an especially good tablet option for the kids. Unfortunately, we can’t recommend it as a Google Nest Hub replacement. If our model stayed permanently in Google Assistant mode, and if the audio quality had a little more bass and weight to it, we’d give it a stronger recommendation. Levovo Smart Tab M10 FHD Plus with Google Assistant is currently available from Lenovo.com for $129.99.