Lenovo Smart Display: The Smartest Google Home Yet

Jason Cockerham

Community Review Team Leader
Dec 9, 2010
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Artificial Intelligence is officially a part of our lives now and even though it’s not fully self aware yet (at least as far as the government has told us) it has gotten pretty freaking smart. Google has created a pretty great AI system with Google Assistant and it has been slowly evolving over the past few years. As it has grown, we have developed more and more ways to interact with it. Not long ago Google released their first standalone Google Assistant product, the Google Home, and after a few iterations, we have arrived at the best possible realized version of Google Assistant. It’s so good that what was once just a useful feature that I used whenever I thought about it, has now become something that has seamlessly integrated into my daily life; meet the Lenovo Smart Display.


There’s not a whole lot to say about the hardware but there are a few things I wanted to mention. First of all, the design; it’s pretty sweet. At first glance it may look a bit janky, but it’s really quite beautifully designed. The screen is bright and vibrant (it comes in both 8” and 10” sizes), the wedge shape allows you to use it in portrait or landscape, and the bamboo on the back is gorgeous. Unfortunately the bamboo is exclusive to the 10” model but the soft gray on the 8” one looks just fine too.

Yeah it’s got a processor, and some RAM and a 5MP camera for video calls (which is both super dope and crazy creepy at the same time), but the true standout is the speaker. There are actually three of them, one 10W full range speaker and two tweeters and they honestly sound pretty incredible for what you get. Don’t expect this to compare to Sonos or really any other dedicated speaker, but as few as smart devices go, this is one of the best I’ve ever heard. It’s loud enough to fill up a room and good enough that you won’t be embarrassed to play it in front of your friends.

The only buttons on the device are the volume controls and two sliders that turn off all the microphones and place and actual, physical shutter over the camera! The conspiracy theory types will clamor that they’re still listening, but I for one am happy to see companies like Google and Lenovo taking our privacy seriously enough to give us the option to turn all those things off if we want. It makes me feel better.

So What is This Thing?

Honestly the best way to describe it is Google Home with a screen. If you ever used one of the smart speakers from Google, then this is like the next step up from that. They kept the same fantastic voice features, but threw a touchscreen display on it. However, it’s very different from a tablet or smartphone. While those devices are meant to be held, touched, and interacted with directly, the screen on the Smart Display is really designed to simply show information.

While you can touch it, there’s not really much to do with it. Swiping in from the left will take you back and forth from home to ambient mode and swiping up will reveal brightness and volume settings as well as device info and a few minimal settings. That’s about it. Don’t take that as a downside though, quite the opposite. Having the display on it allows you to visually see your voice commands in action and makes the information or action so much easier to follow than just having a voice read it or confirm it for you. It’s actually helpful to be able to unplug just a bit more from my phone by being able to do a lot of the simple tasks just with my voice.

What Can it Do?

Apart from the basics that you would expect such as setting a timer or alarm or looking up information, there are a few other cool things this guy can do. As you setup the device using the Google Home app (available on iOS as well), it will walk you through a few basic screens to connect to your Google account which brings in a your Google Assistant settings and preferences if you’ve already set it up on your phone.

This is running a new version of Android called Android Things and it’s designed to be very simple to use and operated almost entirely by voice command. Start by saying “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” and a giant smorgashboard of operations opens up. You can do something as simple as have it play music or set an alarm, or you can get really creative and set up a routine that will turn your phone off silent, tell you about the weather for the day, tell you about your commute and the days events, then begin playing the news all by simply saying, “good morning.” If you dive into the settings within the Google Home app on your phone, you can customize this guy to do a whole slew of things.

For playing music you can use Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Pandora, Spotify, or Deezer built in. Beyond that you can connect other cast enabled devices such as a Chromecast which allows you to stream Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube, Starz and others with Netflix support coming soon. You can already connect your Netflix account but you can’t cast to the Smart Display yet but at least we know it’s coming. Once you connect Hulu for example, simply launch the app on your phone or tablet and cast it to the Smart Display to get your binge on. You can also set up your photos to cast or even scroll as the screen saver.

Looking up recipes is also incredibly helpful. My fiance loves to cook and has used the display in the kitchen quite a lot since we got it. She loves being able to look up recipes without having to search for her phone or place her $1500 MacBook Pro on the counter (which also means I’m no longer having a heart attack that it’s going to get ruined).

Definitely explore the Google Home app as that’s where you will find so much more about both what Google Assistant and the Smart Display can really do.

Google Assistant: God Mode

I said at the top of this review that the Lenovo Smart Display is the best possible realized version of Google Assistant and I think it’s even better than what’s on my phone. This is a smart assistant that truly gets out of my way and does the things that I ask it to do without being intrusive. I can have this do quite a few different things without ever having to touch it and yes I can do those things on my smartphone too, but if I’m more than a few feet away from my phone it can’t hear me. The Smart Display can hear me from almost anywhere in my townhome and it really makes a lot of things so much easier.


As we continue to adopt more and more connected devices into our lives, privacy is becoming more important than ever. The adage that “more features require more data” is absolutely true, but there are still ways to collect and use data privately. Although Google collects a boat load of data on me, I do appreciate how transparent they are about what they collect and how they use it. I have willingly given my data to Google in exchange for some pretty awesome services and at any time I can choose to stop giving Google my data but I will lose out on some of the services they offer in the process. That is the way these things work and at the end of the day, they are all still choices that we can make or not. I am extremely glad that the big companies are now under more pressure than ever to be careful about our privacy and how they collect and use our data.

Untold Potential

I think the coolest thing about the Smart Display is really what it can’t do yet. Hear me out; the potential for this thing is incredible. It can already connect to other smart devices in my home such as Philips Hue lights, Nest thermostats, and smart locks, but just imagine what it will be able to do in the next few years. This device could quite literally become the single hub for my entire home of smart devices. You could have your own personal Jarvis!

It may seem a bit far fetched and maybe more than a little creepy, but it is still important that these things are being thought about. Every day we are using more and more connected devices and soon almost everything in our home will be able to be entirely automated. Removing the command center for those things out of my phone and into something as easy to use and operate as the Smart Display will make that transition so much more seamless. I can’t wait until I can come home and with one voice command, have all my connected devices do just what I want them to do without opening 25 different apps just to get my music playing, my lights turned on and my doors unlocked-NSA be damned.

Final Thoughts

I truly believe in connection. I believe that a lot of the problems in our world could be helped out quite a bit if we were able to connect with each other just a little bit better. I love when technology is able to do that and I think the greatest technology fuels that connection by getting out of the way.

The Smart Display has taken a useful technology and gotten it out of my way by making it easier to use and allowed me to connect more with my fiance. One of the coolest moments for me during this review was when she was at the end of a really stressful day and the weight of the world was starting to get to her. I was able to take her in my arms and simply ask Google to play our wedding song and we danced quietly in the living room as we reconnected. I will treasure that memory for a long time.

Should You Buy It?

I honestly don’t know. I have found it to be very good at what it does and useful for me and my family. It would be difficult though for me to say that this is a piece of technology that is a must-have for everyone. It’s great, it’s useful, and a really fun party trick, but it’s also not yet completely necessary for daily life. If you’re into technology or you have a lot of connected devices in your home and you want one central place to control it all or if you use Google Assistant quite a lot, then sure, pick one up. If you're just curious, throw it on your Christmas list. The 8” model is $199 and the 10” model is $249 and you can get it at Lenovo or [URL="https://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-Display-Google-Assistant-10-inch/dp/B07BPV7Y25/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1536805328&sr=1-1&keywords=lenovo+smart+display&tag=hawk-future-20&ascsubtag=UUacUvbUpU6339207]Amazon[/URL].
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