Lenovo Smart Clock review: Better than a Google Home Mini, but just barely

Kadri 413 days ago

Smart displays are the new smart speakers. It seems like just about every company, from Amazon to Google to Facebook, is releasing their own.

Most smart displays, like Amazon's Echo Show and Google's Nest Hub (formerly called Home Hub), use their screens to show lots of extra information, including photos, maps, and videos. But Lenovo's $80 Smart Clock is far less ambitious.

The Smart Clock is essentially a Google Home Mini with a 4-inch screen for displaying the time. There's no camera for video calling, the screen can't play YouTube videos, and the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired.

At a time in which it feels like gadgets are doing too many things and becoming too invasive with the data they collect, the Smart Clock is a refreshing lesson in restraint. Lenovo intentionally limited the abilities of the Smart Clock, and I kind of appreciate that for a connected device that's going to live on my bedside table.

At $80, the Smart Clock is reasonably priced, just $30 more than a Google Home Mini. That extra money basically gets you a small touchscreen. The Smart Clock is also cheaper than the $130 Echo Spot, which has a smaller, 2.5-inch round touchscreen.

Compare it to Google's Nest Hub and Amazon's new Echo Show 5, and the Smart Clock is less of a value. Though the Nest Hub retails for $130, it's frequently sold for $100 from Google, and we've seen it for less at big-box retailers. Similarly, the $90 Echo Show 5 only costs $10 more than the Smart Clock and comes with a larger, 5.5-inch touchscreen and more smart display features.

Pretty adorable

Smart displays and "cute" almost never go hand in hand, but the Smart Clock is an adorable little bedside or desk gadget.

The wedge-shaped device resembles an Echo Show (second-gen), but it's way tinier — barely larger than a Google Home Mini and roughly the size of a bedside alarm clock you can find at IKEA or Target.

Since it's a device designed for the bedroom, Lenovo wisely covered the outside with a fabric material to help it blend better at home. Two rubber strips underneath the Smart Clock help keep it firmly planted on a surface. Other than a stitched tag with Lenovo's logo, the Smart Clock is a clean-looking device.

The minimalism extends beyond its looks. On top, there are only two buttons: plus and minus to adjust volume. Around back, there's a plug for power, a microphone mute switch, and a full-size (USB-A) port that can be used to charge up another device like a phone or smartwatch.