We knew Google had an Echo Show competitor or three up its sleeve, but the company still managed to surprise us. Instead of just launching its own version of Amazon’s touchscreen assistant, the company has employed the help of some third-parties who know a thing or two about making hardware.
Maybe Google got cold feet after a recent string of hardware bumbles — or perhaps the company figured it would be simpler to let others do the heavy lifting. Ahead of launch, a Lenovo rep told us that the company approached Google with the idea a while back, wanting to get in on the smart home hub game. Whatever the case, it’s paid off — from a design perspective, at least. The Lenovo Smart Display is a hell of a lot nicer looking than the Echo Show — and, for that matter, the Spot.
The display also has the marked advantage of a larger, full HD display — or, rather, two much larger displays. Out of the gate, the smart assistant ships in two sizes: eight- and 10-inch, versus the Show’s seven and the Spot’s 2.5 inches. The design is cleaner and curvier than the Show’s brutalist angles, and the back comes in either gray or a light wood color.
It’s not an exact match with Google’s fabric aesthetic, but it will make the system look more at home on most shelves. The curved backing also means that, like the Home Max, it can be propped up either horizontally or vertically, space dependent. Essentially, it looks like a tablet with a kickstand, and a largish 10-watt speaker positioned to the left of the screen.
As with the Show, the primary advantage of the display is giving visual context to Assistant’s responses. So for example, if you’re in the kitchen and ask for a recipe, it will give you a visual. It can also do video calls via Duo — and, of course, it’s able to play YouTube videos, which gives it another leg up on the Echo Show. Amazon and Google have been battling it out on that front for a while, with recent rumors pointing to the company launching its own version of the popular video streaming service.
When not in use, the Smart Screen doubles as a digital photo frame (remember those?) courtesy of Google Photos, when not in use. Other functionality found on the Show seems to be missing here — like the ability to view smart security cam photos. It’s still early days, though.
The Smart Display is set to start shipping this summer, priced at $250 and $200 for the eight- and 10-inch editions, respectively.