Lenovo Smart Display Review: The First Google Home I’d Actually Buy

– [Mr. Mobile] The Amazon Echo, the Google Home, Apple’s Home Pod. For the past few years,
smart home devices have been making life easier in living
rooms around the world, and now Google’s finally gets a screen. Is that display worth
the extra dollars though? I’m Mr. Mobile, let’s find out in the Lenovo Smart Display review. (gentle music) I’ve been using the smart
display for a little less than a week at home and in
the office, and frankly, I thought I’d need more
time to get to know it. It’s pretty straight forward. All the typical functions you expect of a Google Home are here. You can set reminders,
ask it for the weather, get it to play music or podcasts, even get your blood pressure
up watching the daily news. Okay, hey Google, stop, enough. Play something relaxing. – [Google] Okay, here’s a
Spotify play list called relax and unwind. – [Mr. Mobile] The screen is
what changes the game here, because in addition to the
above, now you can do things like watch YouTube videos. You can make video calls, if you know anyone who uses Google Duo. You can watch Star Trek
Discovery, if you pay for CBS. You can manage things
like smart thermostats and light bulbs by touch
now, as well as by voice. If you use Google photos,
and by the way, you should, this is the best digital
picture frame there is, because you can control
it with your voice. Show me pictures from Barcelona. And those who wanna devote
some kitchen counter space to the smart display can take
advantage of step-by-step recipes with visual aids. Now usually, when aspirational
product like this falls down, is on execution. But not this time. Almost everything the smart
display promises to do, it does, and does well. I tested the larger of the two sizes, and the screen itself is
big, bright, and colorful. The 10 watt speaker is quite loud and delivers a surprising amount of bass. I love my UE roll too for
listening to music in the studio, and the smart display speaker
sounds about the same to me. I adore the casing, which
blends soft-touch plastic and bamboo cladding in a design that’s, somehow it wants bold and subtle. It’s pretty enough to make
me forget that there’s no built-in battery here. This is meant to be plugged
in and stay plugged in, it just adds up. And the camera brings
more than enough quality for video calls. Now let’s touch on that camera. If you’re like me, you’re a
little iffy about the prospect of something sitting in your
home watching you all the time. Well, Google and Lenovo
thought about that. Flick this little switch on
the side, and the camera’s off. Not just off, covered with
a physical plastic hatch. Slide a similar switch on top and the microphone is muted too. – [Google] The mic is muted. – [Mr. Mobile] On a device
so closely tied to Google, whose name is never far
from privacy debates, these measures go a long
way toward making me more comfortable
welcoming it into my home. I really only ran into two rough patches where the device didn’t
behave as it should. First, despite it’s
dual array microphones, the smart display often
missed my voice commands when it was playing loud music, to the point where I
had to repeatedly shout to get it to respond. And sometimes my commands took
took a bit longer to process than I expected. Never more than a few seconds, and never more than once
every 10 requests or so, but since it happened on both
my home and office networks, I thought it worth a mention. My bigger gripes are
the same ones that come with any new product category. It doesn’t do as much as I’d like. I haven’t been able to
cast to it from my phone, like I can with a Chrome cast. Also there’s no Netflix
integration at this time, so I can’t just throw up
a Mystery Science Theater while I’m cooking. – [Google] Sorry, Netflix can’t
be played on smart display. – [Mr. Mobile] This just seemed like big, missed opportunities, and
I hope they’re corrected in the future. For what it’s worth, Google
did say back at CES in January that casting capability is planned. So maybe we’ll see that in a future fix. Less important, but again, just kind of a missed opportunity. You can’t use the camera
to take a quick photo. I mean, Jibo can do that,
and he can’t do anything. Sorry, buddy. Are those shortfalls enough to keep me from recommending this thing? Not at all. Yes, the smart display is more
expensive than a traditional Google Home by about a
hundred bucks, give or take. But if the question is
whether the display brings enough utility to justify that added cost, I think the answer’s definitely yes. I never paid much attention
to smart home stuff before this device, and the
thing that makes the difference is that visual element of the display. If you do a lot of shopping from home, or you’re otherwise big into Amazon, you’ll wanna consider
an Echo Show instead. And I believe Phil Nickinson
will be running a comparison over at Modern Dad for that. But if you’re as dependent on Google as many of us are these days, a Google Home is almost
certainly the better option. And given the choice between
a standard, screen-less Google Home and the Lenovo
Smart Display, well, I’d gladly drop the extra
dollars on the latter. This video is brought
to you by TunnelBear. True story. It’s the first VPN I ever used, and I’m genuinely glad to sponsor it. TunnelBear lets you browse the web safely on a public hotspot,
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I’m here for the mascot. (growl) Help support Mr. Mobile,
secure your browsing for the next two years,
and save almost 60%. Hit the links in the description
to secure your special deal on TunnelBear, and thanks. The Lenovo Smart Display
is on sale this week and getting a lot of coverage
at Android Central, folks. Tune in over there for in depth coverage on its funky implementation
of Android things. And again, check out Modern
Dad’s take for the perspective of someone who’s a lot more comfy with home tech than Mr. Mobile is. Let me know in the comments
if you find this sort of smart home coverage useful. And until next time, thanks for watching. And stay mobile, my friends.

Danny Hutson

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