Hands on: Lenovo Smart Display

Google Assistant with a 10-inch screen

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Our Early Verdict

The Lenovo Smart Display features a powerful speaker, a big and bright display, as well as all of the benefits of Google Assistant technology. Everything looks good so far – this could be a serious competitor for the Amazon Echo Show.

For

  • Powerful speaker
  • Large 10-inch display

Against

  • Struggles in loud enviornments
  • Slightly confusing interface

As more and more companies introduce Google Assistant speakers, it was inevitable we'd see some with screens built in, and the Lenovo Smart Display is set to be one of the first to market.

If you're looking for a Google alternative to Amazon's Echo Show smart display, you'll won't find one that's actually from Google – the push being led by third-party manufacturers, and Lenovo is one of the first to step up to the plate. 

This is the kind of device Lenovo thinks you'll want in your kitchen or living room, enabling you to play music, watch YouTube clips or read out recipes for you to follow.

It comes in two versions, one with a smaller 8-inch display and another with a 10-inch display, but no matter your kitchen's size the Lenovo Smart Display won't feel like a gargantuan TV on your kitchen top.

Lenovo Smart Display price and release date

Lenovo has only confirmed the Smart Display's availability for the US at the moment, where it'll be released mid-2018. The company does plan to bring it to other markets, but those won't be confirmed until a later date.

If you want the 8-inch versio, it'll cost $199 (about £140, AU$250), while the 10-inch version costs $249 (about £180, AU$315).

Design and features

We've only had a look at the 10-inch version of the Smart Display. It feels wide enough for watching video as well as having a strong resolution and being super bright. 

While it may not rival your TV, that's not really its purpose, and we like the look of it for reading recipes or watching the odd YouTube clip.

The device was perhaps a little thicker than we first expected, but considering it will just sit on your kitchen counter or living room shelf or cabinet, its bulk doesn't feel like much of an issue. 

On the top are a series of buttons than enable you to mute the speaker and adjust the volume. When it comes to sound quality, we were quite impressed with how clear and loud the Lenovo Smart Display was.

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We only tested it in a loud room, but so far it sounds like the audio quality should be at the top end of the spectrum. Whether it can keep pace with the Apple HomePod is a different question.

Google Assistant worked well in our limited testing. You can view all of the major Google apps, and there's a tailored home screen that will show you news stories, video recommendations and more.

While Google Assistant may not be as mature as Amazon Alexa it does currently have YouTube support, which Amazon's range can't boast, and we were able to easily watch videos on the speaker.

There's a touchscreen too for when you don't want to use your voice for commands, although we found the interface a little difficult to understand at first.

We found the voice activation wasn't fantastic in picking up commands in loud environments, but that's likely to be a problem with any smart speaker, and it shouldn't be an issue in your everyday use of the Smart Display.

Early verdict

Based on our brief time with the Lenovo Smart Display it looks like a fantastic alternative to the Amazon Echo Show.

If you're missing a screen on your Google Home, but you also can't handle the lack of YouTube on the Echo Show, the Lenovo Smart Display may be just the product you're looking for.

However, whether the sound quality is good enough to justify the high price, and whether Google Assistant can keep pace with Alexa in the smart display market, remain to be seen.

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.