Lenovo unveils cheaper Amazon Echo alternative, powered by Alexa

Lenovo expands into the smart home gadget market

CES 2017 hasn’t officially kick started yet, but some device manufacturers have already started taking the wraps off a few new products. Like Lenovo. The Chinese tech giant is mostly known for its lineup of ThinkPad and Yoga laptops and convertibles. The company also produces phones and has acquired Motorola a few years back.

But in 2017 Lenovo is branching out, so this week the device maker has pulled out of its bag an Amazon Echo clone, blandly called the Lenovo Smart Assistant. Seeing the rising popularity of the Alexa-enhanced speaker, Lenovo thought it might be a good idea to try offering something similar too.

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What’s quite amusing is that the new gadget is actually the product of a Lenovo-Amazon partnership, so it is powered by Alexa too, just like Amazon Echo.

Lenovo’s Smart Assistant features the same cylinder shape made famous by the Echo and will be available in a few color options. On the inside, the smart home appliance features eight 360-degre microphones that are capable of suppressing nose and canceling echo. Lenovo boasts that the device can understand voice commands uttered from up to 5 meters away thanks to the microphone setup.

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Just like the Echo, Lenovo’s Smart Assistant can play music via de built-in speakers. The base model features a 5W tweeter and 10W woofer, but more demanding customers can opt for the Harman Kardon edition which includes an additional 2-inch acoustic sound cavity for improved audio.

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The device is powered by an Intel Celeron N3060 CPU in combination with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It can connect to Wi-Fi via the 1×1 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter and also has Bluetooth 4.0.

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Most importantly, the Smart Assistant has Alexa services baked into it. Given that there are many other smart home devices and services that make use of Alexa, Smart Assistant users will be able to do pretty much everything an Echo owner can.

Lenovo bets on pricing to attract customers to its intelligent speaker. The base models will cost you $129, while the Harman Kardon version will sell for $179 (just like the Amazon Echo). Expect to see them make it out on the market come May 2017.