Lenovo has been one of Google’s main partners when it comes to Smart Displays outside of the Nest branding. Last year the company released the Smart Clock as a cute, bedside Smart Display built around audio and alarms. Lenovo is following that this year with a cheaper, slimmer model called the Smart Clock Essential.

Smart Clock with “dumber” display

The Essential’s overall design is almost identical to the Smart Clock until you turn on the display. The Smart Clock Essential trades a full, touch display for an LED you’d find on a traditional digital alarm clock.

The screen is a little more robust than that though. The connected Smart Clock Essential will always keep the correct time for your timezone and show weather/temperature updates below the time.

Still powered by Google Assistant

Despite this step back you still have the internals of an internet-connected speaker with full Google Assistant onboard. This gives you full command of the voice butler. You can set alarms, ask questions, or check the weather via Google Assistant. “Hey, Google” is built in just like any smart speaker.

Also just like those speakers, you have Chromecast enabled as well. However, due to the previously mentioned pair-down of the screen, you will only be able to interact with music with Google Assistant or your phone controls.

Don’t forget the buttons… and a night light

Atop the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, you have volume controls, play/pause, and an alarm button. This allows for analog ways to both handle audio and set your alarms for your morning wake time.

Around the back, you have a dedicated mic switch for killing that input if you want. There’s also a USB port for charging devices, but an addition to the previous Smart Clock is a night light. This can help users maneuver the late-night snack raid without blaring the overhead lighting in the room.

Nice Niche

Lenovo seems content with the Smart Clock Essential hitting a very targeted market of the nightstand. For just $50, it’s a compelling argument to add simple functionality to a standard Google Home Mini or Echo Dot.

The Smart Clock Essential will be available later in September according to the launch press release.

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