Lenovo smart Display review: The first Google Assistant display is here

Google / Hardware Reviews / Reviews / Tech

TA-ratings-95Back in January of this year, Google Assistant took over CES 2018. It didn’t take long to find out why. The Google Assistant was getting a display. It was announced that LG, JBL, and Lenovo would all be releasing displays with Google Assitant. Now, the Lenovo smart Display is finally upon us. This is Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo Show and Lenovo really did an amazing job. Read on for the full review of the Lenovo smart Display.

Specifications

The Lenovo smart Display has the following features and specifications:

  • Design:
    • Width x Height: 173.87 mm x 311.37 mm
    • Thickness: 12.5 mm — 136.02 mm
    • Weight: 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs)
    • Color: Bamboo
    • I/O Buttons: 1 x Microphone-Mute, 1 x Camera Shutter, 1 x Volume +/-
  • Display:
    • Size: 10.1”
    • Type: IPS
    • Resolution: FHD (1920 x 1200)
    • Screen: Direct Bonding
    • Rotating View: 86° Wide Angle
  • Performance:
    • Processor: Qualcomm Home Hub Platform (base Snapdragon 624, Octa-Core A53 1.8 GHz, 14 nm)
    • Audio: 2″ 10W Full Range Speaker, 2 x Passive Tweeters Supports Multi-room Audio
    • Microphone: 2 x 2 Dual Microphone Arrays
    • RAM: Up to 2 GB
    • Flash (eMMC): Up to 4 GB
  • Multimedia:
    • Front Camera: 5 MP Wide Angle
    • Video Call: 720p
  • Connectivity:
    • WLAN: 2 x 2 WiFi 802.11 ac, 2.4G/5G, MIMO
    • Bluetooth: Bluetooth BLE

What’s In The Box

  • 10″ Lenovo smart Display
  • Power cord
  • Manuals and documentation

Design

When we first saw the Lenovo smart Display at CES 2018 we were impressed with its aesthetic design. The Google Assistant display comes in two versions, an 8″ and 10″. We have the 10″ here for review but the design is similar with the larger getting slightly better materials with the bamboo back.

I don’t often compare devices in reviews but I have to point out the obvious here. The Lenovo smart Display is far more attractive than the Amazon Echo Show. It really does a spectacular job of being a piece of art on your counter rather than a hunk of tech. Lenovo and Google really put some thought into the design and I think they pulled it off brilliantly.

On the front, you have your FHD display, 5MP camera, and 10″ speaker. This is all wrapped in a white plastic shell while the back of the unit is wrapped in beautiful bamboo. Speaking of the back, this is where Lenovo made a great design choice.

Lenovo smart Display

I love the look of this device!

The housing is thin enough to house the display at one end and then widens toward the end where the 10″ speaker is. This gives it a curvy looking wedge shape that is very pleasing to the eye. It’s really just a lovely looking design and guaranteed to be a conversation piece. I had a few people ask what the device was without having even mentioned it.

The power port is on the back and the volume, power, and two mics are along the top edge of the smart Display. Along the thin side edge, you’ll find the camera privacy switch and two more mics. Along the thicker side edge are rubber feet for turning the smart Display to portrait mode. By the way, that camera privacy switch is great and probably a great selling point for those seeking privacy.

Overall, this is a brilliant design. Lenovo managed to make this into something that adds flair to your countertop rather than just another dank piece of tech.

Display

Our Lenovo smart Display review unit came with the 10.1″ FHD 1920 x 1200 display. It’s really a very nice display. Videos and photos look great on it. Colors are vibrant and the blacks look deep and the whites crisp. The rotating wallpapers Google throws on it while it’s not in use are great, very similar to Chromecast. Touch responsiveness is good and I did not see any evidence of lag or stuttering.

Overall, this is a very nice display and watching videos and photos on it is a pleasure.

Software/Ecosystem

The Lenovo smart Display is running Google’s new OS called Android Things. Obviously, there is an element of Android in this OS but it’s not meant for smartphones and tablets. The main way you’re going to interact with the smart Display is with your voice. Asking Google Assistant to show you things or play music and podcasts. You can still tap the screen to select certain things but voice control is your main input method.

Setting the Lenovo smart Display up is as easy as setting up a Google Home through the Home app. After you plug your smart Display into power. Open the Google Home app and the device should be waiting there for setup. Follow the prompts and you’ll be on your way.

Like any Google Home, the smart Display has personal voice recognition. This worked for me pretty much all of the time and it gives you your personal results from your calendar to the news. You can ask Google questions and it will give you web results sometimes with scrolling text so you can read. Probably the best feature of the smart Display is recipes. Ask for a recipe and you will get it on screen with instructions you can go through step-by-step.

Lenovo smart Display

Use the smart display to show recipes.

There is one tiny problem with the software, you can’t use it in portrait mode, yet. Google Duo is the only app that allows for portrait mode use. Google should have this feature working soon but it would have been nice to be able to use it out of the box.

Speaking of apps, there are no apps for Android Things. So don’t expect to go out to the Play Store and download your favorite apps. Third parties can integrate into the platform if they want and some have, like Spotify, Nest, and Phillips Hue. Hopefully, more third-party app makers will integrate into this. Apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Netflix and Hulu would be able to show users feeds or videos. There is a lot of potential here.

You should know that you can still use the Cast feature on your phone to Cast content to the Lenovo smart Display as well. You can also make phone calls using Google Voice or your own phone number. There is one small hurdle for Casting though, and this is Google’s issue to fix, Casting only supports a few apps right now. They are as follows:

  • Facebook Video
  • HBO Go
  • Hulu
  • Tablo
  • Vimeo
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • YouTube TV
  • Google Play Movies
  • PlayStation Vue

Finally, you can also control your compatible smart home devices with this. A good example is Nest cam. You can ask the Assistant to show you your Nest cam and it will appear on the screen.

Overall, the software here is a pleasure to use. This could take some time for people to get used to but it’s a great start and the user interface is beautiful. While Lenovo did an amazing job designing the hardware. Google did an equally amazing job designing the look of the software.

Sound

The Lenovo smart Display sound is decent, it’s not booming and full but it’s decent. There are other smart speakers out there that sound better but I don’t think this device is necessarily trying to be an audiophile speaker.

Overall, the sound is fine here. The majority of people are going to buy this for the display and voice control experience. Most users will be very happy with the sound.

Price/Value

The 8″ Lenovo smart Display is $199USD while the 10″ version is $249USD. Right now these are the only two Google Assistant displays on the market so it’s hard to compare anything to them. I think the price may be slightly high but there is a ton of value here as well.

Wrap Up

The Lenovo smart Display is something unique. It’s a brilliant device especially for those who use a lot of Google services. The hardware and the software are both brilliant in their design. I’d be happy to have this on our counter and hopefully, more features will be added soon.

*We received a review unit of the Lenovo smart Display for the purposes of this review.

Lenovo smart Display

$249.99USD
9.5

Design

10.0/10

Display

9.5/10

Software/Ecosystem

9.5/10

Sound

9.0/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Such a beautiful hardware design
  • The display is rich and vibrant
  • Google Assistant is still the best AI
  • The price is fair for the functionality
  • Great software design

Needs work

  • The sound is good but not amazing
  • This may not be for you if you're not tied to Google services
  • It needs services like Hulu and Netflix
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