Is there a smart device for every room of your home? Amazon and Lenovo sure hope so. Despite the worries about having always-listening devices sat in your bedroom, both companies have built gadgets for that specific location – the Amazon Echo Show 5 and Lenovo Smart Clock are headed to your boudoir.
Yes, Amazon already has the Echo Spot for this purpose and, yes, you could just as easily place these gadgets in other rooms around the home. The Google Home Hub, likewise, is a similar proposition. But one look at their diminutive designs, and it’s clear that they’re best situated in the comfy confines of your bedroom.
So – two different products, two similar designs and purposes, but two distinct voice-activated smart assistants built in. Which should you buy, the Amazon Echo Show 5, or the Lenovo Smart Clock? Read on to find out.
[Update: The Amazon 2019 hardware launch event was filled with new Alexa-powered gadgets – 14 of them to be precise – and we got hands-on time with several of them. Check out all the new Amazon Echo speakers, along with release dates, prices, and specs.]
Amazon Echo Show 5 vs Lenovo Smart Clock: Design
A quick glance at both smart displays, and you’d be forgiven for thinking they part of the same product family, if not the same device. Both the Lenovo Smart Clock and Echo Show 5 have a very similar approach to industrial design.
Each is broadly wedge shaped, and each has a screen roughly the size of a smartphone. The Echo Show 5 is the slightly larger of the two, with a 5.5-inch screen, while the Lenovo Smart Clock has a smaller 4-inch display. The Echo Show 5 is of a slightly higher resolution, too, coming in at 960 x 480, while the Smart Clock is a lowly 800 x 480. As we’ll discuss later, that’s not necessarily a problem, as both use their displays for quite different purposes.
Back to the shape, and you’ll find some subtle differences there too. As mentioned, the Echo Show 5 appears slightly bigger, measuring 148mm x 86mm x 73 mm, with the Lenovo Smart Clock measuring 113.88mm x 79.2mm x 79.8mm.
Both have a considerable border around their displays, but it’s the Amazon Echo Show 5 that’s the more industrial looking device – though both have a fabric covering (black for the Echo Show 5, and grey for the Smart Clock), Lenovo’s offering is a bit more delicate, with it’s softer color and wraparound cover.
In terms of buttons and inputs, the Lenovo Smart Clock is simpler. It just has plus and minus volume buttons on top, while around the back there’s a power port, a mic-mute toggle, and a full-size USB 2.0 port for plugging in a charging cable for your phone.
The Echo on the other hand has an array of buttons on its top edge – volume up and down, a mic / camera shut off button and even a physical shutter to cover up the device’s 1MP camera, used for video calling. It’s an extra layer of protection for the privacy-conscious.
Around the rear is a powerport and a 3.5mm headphone port for hooking up the smart display to a larger speaker system as well as, curiously, a microUSB port. What this is practically for is unclear – it’s unlikely anyone is going to have a microUSB to microUSB (or Lightning connection, for that matter) cable with which to charge an external device. There’s potential to hook up a microUSB-compatible Ethernet adapter if your W-Fi is not up to scratch, but that’s more intended for enterprise users, and won’t be very helpful in most homes.
The thing to note here is that Lenovo has intentionally stripped back the Smart Clock compared to its competition. It’s of the mindset that, for owners to feel comfortable having it in their more intimate rooms.
Amazon on the other hand wants the Echo Show to be suitable in every room, and thus has more features, such as that camera. It’s been sensitive to users privacy wishes too, what with that physical shutter.
From a design perspective then, it’s more of an aesthetic choice to be made. Personally, we’re going for the Lenovo device – it’s just a little less intrusive and softer.
Echo Show 5 vs Smart Clock: Features and screen
So, with roughly similar designs, the core choices you make here really come down to just two features: your preferred smart assistant (Google Assistant or Alexa), and exactly what you want to be able to do with the screen.
Let’s start with the smart assistants. As you’d expect, the Amazon Echo Show 5 uses Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated helper, while the Lenovo Smart Clock opts for Google Assistant.
They’re broadly very similar – say either the “Hey Google” or “Alexa…” wake words, and both devices begin to start listening to your voice for requests they can fulfil.
What they can achieve is mostly quite similar – you can pair them with your preferred music service to ask them to play songs, have them set timers, alarms and calendar reminders, place calls, ask for the news, control other compatible smart home gadgetry and more, all without lifting a finger.
For more on what each can do, check out the guides below:
What may skew your decision is if you already have another Amazon Echo or Google Assistant speaker, as that makes use of features such as multi-room audio playback much simpler across each individual brand.
The core difference with the Echo Show 5 and the Lenovo Smart Clock then is in how they use their displays. The Lenovo Smart Clock is purposefully minimalist in what it displays on screen, often limiting itself to just the time or the Google Assistant logo in an attempt to keep your bedroom distraction free.
The Echo Show 5 on the other hand is much more visually arresting, playing back videos, offering video call services, and other visual information to accompany whatever you’ve requested of it via voice.
Which take on the use of a display your find more appealing will be a matter of taste then: some will find the Echo Show 5 intrusive while the Smart Clock slips more effortlessly into its surroundings, while others will consider the Smart Clock’s screen a wasted opportunity compared to the feature-rich Echo Show 5.
Amazon Echo Show 5 vs Lenovo Smart Clock: Price
At the time of writing, we’re seeing the Lenovo Smart Clock sell at a more affordable price point than the Echo Show 5. But Amazon’s product isn’t massively more expensive, and the relative price of both balances out given the Echo Show 5’s richer feature set.
Check the best current prices for your region in the chart below:
This is a toughie. Though very closely related in their aims, the Amazon Echo Show 5 and Lenovo Smart Clock will prove noticeably different devices to live with.
Were this a question of which device to have in any and every room of your home, we’d go for the Amazon Echo Show 5 every time. It’s just a more feature-complete device, offering more possible uses for the user.
However, when it comes to the calm and private nature of a bedroom, the laid-back, stripped-back nature of the Lenovo Smart Clock becomes very appealing.
It sits in the background a little more subtly, and will appeal more profoundly to those that desire privacy above all else. In the confines of a bedroom, that may prove to be the ultimate differentiator.
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Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.