Review Lenovo Smart Display – Google Home / Assistant with a Screen!

hey everybody if lines I’ve been we’re taking a look today at the Lenovo smart display and the best way to think of this device is as a Google home with a screen so you get the Google assistant but the answers aren’t backed up here with visuals with a touchscreen and we’re going to be taking a closer look at this device which looks pretty cool with its bamboo backing here in just a second but I do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure this is on loan from Lenovo so we’re done with this it goes back to them all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own nobody is paying for this review and no one has reviewed or approved this video before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this thing is all about so let’s take a closer look now at the hardware we have the 10-inch version in here for review this has a 1920 by 1200 resolution screen essentially 1080p it’s got two two inch ten watt speakers right here on the side and on the back you’ve got a nice bamboo finish to it it’s actually real wood it feels kind of cool and that is what you get on the 10 inch version this one costs two hundred and forty nine dollars kind of a premium price I think for an in-home speaker but that’s what it costs they also have an 8 inch version for $1.99 that one is running with a slightly lower resolution

with that smaller screen 720p but I think it’ll still look pretty sharp and that one has slightly smaller speakers on the side and no bamboo on the back just a gray plastic backing on that one again that other one the 8 inch is $1.99 now you might assume by looking at this device that it must be running some version of Android which it is but it does not have any way to install apps on it so you can’t go out to Google Play for example and drop in your favorite media apps this thing will answer your questions and provide answers to those questions and anything that comes up on screen will relate to those queries but that is it’s it does have some chrome casting capabilities which I’ll demonstrate in a few minutes but the media choices are a bit limited because they have to work with Google to get on to this device there’s no app store again that you can just click on and get going with so that was one little disappointment I think would have been cool to have a few of my Android media apps on here to get access to some of the services that are not directly supported by the assistant but that is it now on the front here you’ve got a camera and one nice little feature they added was the ability to not only shut off the camera with a switch but it also puts a physical shutter over the lens lenovo has been doing this with a few of their laptops recently so it’s nice to see that in here so if you have this thing in your kitchen and you’re always nervous about the camera being and on and looking at things you can actually physically block the camera when you flip flip the switch here to turn it off there’s a mic mute button here at the top it’s a switch actually so you flicked that switch over and it will tell you that it’s muted it and now it’s back on and there’s also a volume rocker here at the top to control the volume of the speakers and that is pretty

much it for controls on it in fact it doesn’t even turn off it is always on what’ll happen is is that when it notices there’s no activity in the room it will shut down the backlight on the display and put it into a low-power mode and then when you come back into the room it will come back to life so it must have some kind of motion sensor in it to determine whether or not people are in the room but when that microphone is on is always listening for the trigger word and by the way we’ll be saying the trigger word a lot in this video so if you have Google devices you might want to turn it off for a few minutes while you watch this or put some headphones on audio quality by the way isn’t too bad out of it either good fidelity but it’s not a real hi-fi audio file kind of device now the smart display is designed to sit in a landscape orientation but they also put some feet here on the side so you can flip it up into a portrait orientation but as you can see the screen doesn’t rotate to accommodate this new position here and it seems to only work when you are on a call a vision will call with the camera it will reorient itself properly there but nowhere else at the moment so let’s take a look and see what we can do with this thing of course you can ask it the usual questions like hey Google what’s the weather in New York City on Friday and so we’re getting the weather report here with some sound effects but it also gives us a visual now of what the weather is going to look like on that day now the difference with this device is that because it has Green we can

dive further into the information so I can tap on this little link there that said more on Weather Channel comm and it brings us to an actual web page but again you can’t just pick and choose which web pages you want it’s only the ones that Google is going to present to us as a result of these queries another thing that they’ve done here at the bottom is giving you some prompts about what you can ask in a contextual way so we could ask it for example what about tomorrow and that will give us what tomorrow’s weather is going to be like in New York City because it knows that’s what we were asking about so you have the ability here to kind of dive into things either with your voice or tapping the screen and to get back you just swipe here from the left and it brings you back home there a couple of other cool things you can do with it is control lighting so I can say hey Google turned down my studio light and you can see there a dim to light a little bit but it also pulls up a visual now of that command and I can for example go down to 17% here it’s not an immediate thing it’s not in real-time so I have to adjust the setting here and then it will update it shortly thereafter but you have the ability to more fine-tune some of the commands that you give it that you would not normally be able to do with a home speaker and they also have some other cool stuff that you can do with this like recipes so what I can ask the device here to do for example is hey Google show me a couple of recipes for dinner tonight and so it’s giving me a few different things from a number of different websites and if I wanted to do the easy

beef skillet here for example it’ll pull up the information here give me all the ingredients that I need one thing that would be really cool would be to have it generate a shopping list for me which I don’t think it can do just yet but I can go over here to start cooking and then what it will do is walk me through the steps here and what I can do without touching the screen is issue a command to it to say hey Google next ingredient and then it will read it off to me while I’m working on things but I can also go right to the instructions here and again this is followed in a step by step direction so I can vary easily follow this thing using the touchscreen or just shouting commands to it to get my stuff concocted here in the kitchen so you do have again some things you can do here that you can’t easily do with a smart speaker that lacks the screen now the killer function on this for me though has been the timer functionality it can run multiple timers and with the screen here you can visualize it so I can say to the Google home here hey Google 15-minute timer for potatoes so now we’ve got a timer for potatoes I don’t know why it’s saying second timer and then I can add another one here saying hey Google 10 minutes himer for steak now now what’s cool about this is that when I go back to the home screen here I’m going to see both timers running next to each other so I can see exactly how much time is left on each the only problem though is that if I add a third timer doesn’t make everything smaller it requires scrolling so if I do this one hey Google five minute timer for french fries so now we’ve got the third timer going here again we can run all these at the same time but I do

have to scroll back and forth so what have been cool to see all of this kind of zoom out and I could get a one screen visual of everything so I don’t get my fingerprints all over the screen when I’m messing around with ingredients and everything but still nice to be able to visualize this because one of the issues I’ve had with the speaker based Google home is that when one of these timers goes off I don’t always know which one it is so here at least I can see how much time I have before I have to go and take care of something in the kitchen but still pretty cool to have all this functionality on screen now in addition to just audible alerts so let’s talk a bit about media playback we’ll begin with music so I can of course ask it to play a song like you can on other smart speakers hey Google play a song by Dave Matthews Band and what it will do here is pull up google play music and start playing my music for me I have a Google Play Music subscription through my YouTube premium account so I’m able to get that on there and they do support more than just their music services here so you have these options available to you at the time that I’m recording this you can use google play music YouTube music also a Google owned property but they also linked up with Pandora Deezer and Spotify but if your favorite music service is not on the list here it won’t work with the speaker again you can’t just go download an app to get it but it looks like if you do have one of those services you should be able to use it without too many issues there it also can playback stuff from YouTube and a lot of people who were following my unboxing of this we’re eager to see how that works I will say the YouTube functionality on here is not great because when I say to it here hey Google load up YouTube I don’t actually get a youtube app on-screen to browse through I just get this random recommendation list here of things that I normally don’t see when I’m logged into my account so you can see it’s rather slow to come up here it must be using some kind of web browser wrapper and I’m getting some things that it might think that I’m looking to watch but I don’t have access to my subscription feed or anything else that is strictly recommendations I can of course ask it for specific videos to

playback but it’s not always getting the exact ones that I’m looking for but what I did find you can do is chromecast from the YouTube app on your phone which this will work as a target for so if I pop back into my phone here let me switch over to my YouTube app real quick I can then basically connect YouTube up to this from my phone and pick and choose what I want to watch so we’ll go over here to my app and I will just click on the chromecast icon and go over to my smart display here and when I do that what will happen here if I go and try to play back my when my favorite youtubers here metal Jesus rocks and hit play what will happen here is it will begin playing this on the display hopefully there it goes and I can watch the YouTube videos that way so I can kind of queue them up on the phone and then toss them over to speaker to watch as they’re going there but again not very easy to navigate with my fingers using the touch display and again very hard to find things when you are speaking to it now it does support some other things via Chrome casting so for example I can jump into Plex which is a occasional sponsor here on the channel but a great media application that I know a lot of you who watch me watch on a regular basis and I can of course connect plex up with it the same way we just did a minute ago so I can go ahead here and select the smart display again that will knock YouTube out the Plex chromecast app begins loading up here and if I want to watch the expanse for example I can hit play on that and there we go we should be able to see the expanse starting up and playing so this stuff works pretty nicely but not all apps support Chrome casting to this a notable it one that doesn’t work is Netflix I can’t actually cast Netflix from my phone to this device here even though I have Netflix matched to my Google assistant account that was kind of frustrating because I might want to watch Netflix on here every once in a while but another premium app HBO Go did work without any problems so it looks like there are certain relationships here that might exist between Google and an app maker that will allow it to work on the display versus others and it’s just

frustrating as a consumer that you know we’re buying hardware that is more than able to playback just about anything that’s out there but if you’ve got all of your money invested in one media company you might not be able to play it on some other company’s hardware Amazon is a great example of that you likely will never see Amazon videos coming to your Google display here so you really have to choose your display carefully as you’re working your way through these buying decisions unfortunately now this mode here is the ambient mode and right now I’ve got it set to do a funky flip clock but inside the app that you run on your phone you can change that to other things so for example I can have it use a lighter version of that flip clock if I want you can do a more traditional thing here so you have a couple of different options for how all of this works here and you can also select some of your own photos if you want from your Google Photos account here so I can dial up a few things here and there you go you can see what you can have running in the background and again after a certain length of time it just shuts down the display completely even though it’s on and still listening so all in as a Google home user I like this experience quite a bit I do like getting a visual response along with the audio response that I’m used to on my Google home and I found over the course of my experience using the Google assistant that it is better than alexa and sere for answering complex questions and things that are maybe a little bit more obscure given that google has just a huge amount of data to pull from and generally I’m able to get quick answers to quick questions almost like the Star Trek computer it’s pretty cool to have that and it’s nice to have the display here to accompany that response but just like the Amazon echo show we looked at a little while ago this thing is very limited in that you can’t choose what goes on that screen it is all curated by Google and if they don’t have a

relationship with your favorite media service you’re not going to get it on here which drives me crazy as a consumer especially given that this device is running some version of Android to one degree or another and it’s not impossible for my favorite Android media apps to be used on this device it is a touchscreen after all it is totally possible yet they limit your ability to do that it’s the same issue I had with the Amazon echo show I know where they’re going with this I think they’re very much trying to create an appliance here more than a computer but still there are some things that I think in the Android world would work great on here that they should find some way to get functioning on this without having to go through these lengthy contractual agreement agreements in whatnot because you’ll never get Amazon content on this device nor will you ever get Google content on Amazon and it’s just bad for consumers overall to be selling pieces of hardware that can’t play back all the things customers may want to be doing so that’s my criticism of it I do like it though nonetheless as a Google home user I think if you are a Google home person you will like this as well but if you are not do some research first to make sure that your favorite media application will support it because you might find yourself limited as to what you can do with this smart display until next time this is LAN Simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lon TV supporters including gold level supporters Chris Allegretto Tom Albrecht bill Reiner in Kellyanne Kumar if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lon TV / support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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