One of the things we loved most about the Google Nest Hub (formerly Google Home Hub) and the Lenovo Smart Display is the wide door that opens by being able to see and not just hear. As helpful as a Google Home or Google Home Mini might be, we love having screens in different places. Even tiny smart displays have their use cases. Such is the case with the Lenovo Smart Clock, now available for $80.
Lenovo Smart Clock
First unveiled at CES 2019, the Lenovo Smart Clock doesn’t sound all that interesting on the surface. That is, unless you’ve had a chance to use a Nest Hub or Smart Display. For those who have used one, you know the versatility that comes with the package.
Too often hardware makers try to create a product experience that doesn’t make sense. That is they get too niche or use-specific and ask too much for the device. The Lenovo Smart Clock is none of those things.
We’ve had a Lenovo Smart Clock for about a week now and it’s immediately become one of our favorite connected devices. To us, it’s the right product designed for the right places. And it’s priced right, too.
When it comes to the first one or two in a home, we struggle with trying to figure out where to place our smart displays. A kitchen counter seems to be the best spot until you think of the office. Then, there’s also the night stand.
The last thing we tend to do at night is ensure our alarm clock is set for the morning; it has been this way forever. We also want to make sure we’ve turned off all the lights and locked the doors. In 2019 we can do all of those things without leaving the bed.
This is one of those “it just makes sense” sort of products that does a handful of things really well. More importantly, it doesn’t try to do more or provide a semi-poor experience in other areas.
With ten different clock faces to choose from, you can also customize each with colors. Moreover, you can also tell it to adapt to the environment switching to a darker view to match the ambience. A nice red and white clock is cool in the middle of the day, but it would be jarring at night. The clock, in this example, automatically switches to a black-based one with red accents in evening.
We can sometimes go multiple days between using a Nest Hub in the kitchen. Then there are days where we might use it three or four times in an evening. Music, recipes, timers, and reminders are part and parcel to a smart speaker or display experience.
We like the ability to quickly toggle our Google Home devices, controlling lights and other things. It’s nice to have the option either by voice or manually – should your spouse or partner be sleeping at the time.
The Google alarm clock experience on a Pixel phone can automatically start playing your favorite playlist or news upon waking. That’s extended here and it makes sense, especially since the speaker sounds more full and accurate.
As we go about our morning routines we start to mentally, and sometimes physically, look ahead to our day. That could be in the form of viewing a calendar, checking Google Maps, or browsing reminders. The Lenovo Smart Clock can help you understand your day before your feet hit the ground. Simply ask “Hey, Google, what does my day look like?” and you’re set.
The design of the clock, its colors, and fabric call to mind Google’s smart speakers. It’s modern and minimalist and fits with any environment. It’s right at home in all places of the house, regardless of room decor or color palette.
One of the downsides to placing one of these on a night stand is that it might take away the wall outlet that you use for charging your phone. To counter that Lenovo places a USB 2.0 port on the back of the clock so you can piggyback charge through it. There is also a dedicated switch on the back of the clock which lets you mute the microphone.
We found the sound to be in line with expectations and more than enough for a bedside. Podcasts, news, playlists, audiobooks, and other media sound just fine here. The same goes for alarms and timers. If you value music above all other features, you might want to just get a nice Bluetooth speaker.
No Video, No Problem
That there is no Google Photos support or ability to cast or watch video isn’t as bad as it sounds. This is smart clock. It’s all of the Google Assistant stuff you’ve come to appreciate, plus a versatile clock.
The ambient display isn’t about your friends and family or some random wallpapers. It’s a clock first. Besides, it’s too small to enjoy Netflix or YouTube; your phone works better if that’s what you’re wanting to do in bed.
There’s no camera present on the Smart Clock is not an issue. You don’t want one on there, really, and it would make a lot of people feel awkward and uncomfortable. This is not just for the bedroom, but anywhere.
To its credit, the Lenovo Smart Clock does integrate tightly with Nest Cameras. Ask it to show you a particular room and it will give you a live feed. Parents will enjoy being able to monitor a baby’s room.
We can’t say for certain how well the Smart Clock would fare in a bathroom but we’re curious. It’s hard to say how well it would stand up over time to moisture from showers so we won’t be trying it. With that said, it would be a great addition to bathrooms and other dressing areas.
If you’re considering a Google Home Mini ($50) for a particular room, ask yourself whether it might be more practical to have a display with it. Then, figure out whether you’d like to watch video on it. If yes, go for the Google Nest Hub ($100) or the Lenovo Smart Display. If no, grab the Lenovo Smart Clock.
Priced just $70, the Smart Clock is a great addition to an existing smart home setup. It’s also a great way to start out or learn how an enhanced Google Assistant experience can changes things around the house.
We’re fans of this approach to the smart home and look forward to seeing what Lenovo does next. A traditional wall clock seems like a logical progression from here and we’d be interested that checking it out.