Lenovo’s Smart Clock with Google Assistant is cute and smart, and I think a lot of people will like it. It’s a bright screen, adjusted and explicitly designed for your bedside table. You can scroll through the screens that show you the weather, your schedule, and your movements. It’ll suggest alarms based on your first scheduled meeting on the next day.
But the $80 Smart Clock can do more than just set alarms. You can also use it for everything you use with Google Home Mini, for example, to listen to music, learn about the weather, get sports results, or control smart home gadgets by voice. Despite its four-inch touch screen, the Smart Clock does not do more than the Home Mini, much cheaper, and it does not match what the largest Nest Hub (born Google Home Hub) is. Lenovo’s smart clock is one example among others, with Google’s Home Hub, Amazon’s new Echo Show 5 and two-year-old Echo Spot. All these products are small enough to live on a bedside table, a few inches from where you rest at night. Companies say that these tiny devices with screens could go anywhere; on a kitchen counter, in your home office. But they are particularly suited to space between sleep and stumbling in the shower every morning.
For its hardware, Google focuses primarily on the role of a hub for the smart home and all that entails. This year’s I/O has allowed the company to move away from the compact form factor with the 10-inch Nest Hub Max. The Lenovo smart clock, meanwhile, is firmly aimed at the market currently monopolized by Echo Spot. Lenovo’s approach is more moderate than that adopted with the Smart Display. The subtle sides covered in gray fabric fit the aesthetics of the rest of Google’s Home range. The size of the four-inch screen is also suitable for a bedside display. The trick is to make it big enough to see the time on the other side of the room, without getting too big and too bright for bedtime. Like the original Home/Nest Hub, there is no camera here. It was a bit of surprise on Google’s device, but on a product designed to live near your bed, this seems like a no-brainer.
The protection of privacy is always in mind with this type of products for the home, and the addition of a camera, in this case, seems to pose many more problems than it is worth, for both Lenovo and consumers. Lenovo Smart Clock is still a well-designed and straightforward phrase of Google Assistant in an alarm clock. It weighs less than the single pound and has a heather gray fabric cover that is soft what might otherwise be hard edges. The resulting aesthetic distorts the dormitory, or perhaps the West Elm postgraduate. Its 4-inch touch screen has distinct but harmless advantages and two rubber footbands on the bottom to give it a bit of grip. The only Lenovo brand on the thing lies in a fabric label sewn on the back.
Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised by the Lenovo smart clock more than once during my tests. You can scan from the top of the screen down for shortcuts to play music or set the alarm. The se commands change throughout the day. At night, you can trigger your bedtime routine at the touch of a button. This same button will start a timer for napping in the afternoon. Some clock faces look cool, and the adaptive brightness minimizes glare if you do not need to see the time at night. Also, the wake-up function of the sunrise is excellent.
On the sloping top are a pair of volume keys designated by a big plus and a minus, which should be pretty easy to locate in the dark. You can still use your voice for the same effect, but the buttons are much easier to use. If you press the top of the device, the alarm will be repeated or stopped, depending on your settings. It’s or a situation. It’s a smart feature, but it would be nice to add something like a simple tap to repeat and double. The re is a nice pair of features at the back, as well. A USB 2.0 port makes it easy to charge the phone. A USB-C port may have corrected the clock of the future, but I suppose most customers will have full USB cables for many years. The re is also a massive switch to mute the microphone – an exciting feature to use on any smart home device being listened to, but again, twice as much for a device designed to be installed next to the bed.
Another small quirk about Lenovo’s smart clock is that it does not quite night at night. Even in its darkest mode, in the dark rooms, the display of a digital clock remains visible. Lenovo says that most people want visibility of the clock; after all, they bought a watch. But after manipulating the settings and trying a series of voice commands, I always end up turning the thing over and placing it face-down at night.