Lenovo Smart Display Review 2018

Lenovo Smart Display Review 2018

– So, there’s one thing
I’ve wanted here at home pretty desperately for a long, long time. – [Man In Commercial] Now,
brighten up everyone’s day with the new wild and
wacky, singing, talking, Louie the Large Mouth Bass. – No, not that. I’m talking about a whole, home hub, okay? Sort of a smart screen
that all my information in one place that I can see all the time. I kinda hoped that we’d gotten there with the Amazon Echo Show. Now, if you remember, I did
a video on that a while back and I was super excited about it. It’s a fun toy, but just not a necessity. So, enter the Lenovo Smart Display. So, this is the first entry from Google with it’s Android Things platform. It’s a display. It’s smart, it gives you information and you can tell it to do things. And you know what? Looks pretty damn nice. So, they sent me one. And I’ve spent a week with it now. Does it live up to my expectations? My own self-hype? Let’s go take a look. Alright, you know what we do first here. Let’s go do the basics. So, the Lenovo Smart Display is actually the first in a
series of devices like this. There are other manufacturers
gonna make ’em too. So, basically it’s a Google
Home with a touchscreen. Speaker, the display, microphones, camera. I mean, pretty much
everything you would expect in this sort of device, right? Now, Lenovo actually has
a couple of these, okay? They sent me the 10-inch
model to check out and it’s gorgeous. It’s got matte white plastic with this really nice bamboo in the back. And the display is better
than the smaller one we’re gonna talk about in second, okay? This one is $250. And the smaller one is eight inches and it’s got a slightly smaller speaker and smaller display, yeah. And also a lesser resolution and that means fewer pixels per inch. Again, just a $50 difference. Now, both sizes share a few other specs: four gigabytes of storage,
two gigabytes of RAM, the five megapixel camera,
and an 802.11 ac wifi. And both are powered by
a Qualcomm Snapdragon 624 Home Hub platform. So, let’s talk about the buttons
and switches for a second. You’ve got your typical volume
rocker and next to that, you’ve got a switch that turns off the mic if you decide you don’t
want the smart display to listen in on you anymore
for you to tell it what to do. So, right here we have
probably my favorite feature of any of the smart home
devices with a camera that I have ever used. So the Lenovo has put in
a physical shutter switch to block the camera. Now, before we’ve always
had to trust it, right? You’d say, “Turn the camera off,” and you think it’s turned the camera off, but, do you really know? Well, here you just flip the switch and it’s pretty obvious
it can’t see anymore. Every smart home device
needs to have this. So as for the operating system, it’s this relatively new
thing called Android Things. So if you know Google Home and Chromecast, you can think of it as a
good bit more than that. Though, it’s also not
like a full blown version of Android the operating
system that you might, say, use on your phone. Let me just have Google
explain it to you real quick. – So what is Android Things? Android Things is Google’s
managed operating system that enables you to build and maintain Internet of Things devices at scale. We provide a robust platform
that does the heavy lifting with certified hardware,
rich developer APIs, and secure managed software updates using Google’s backend infrastructure. – So it’s got the full weight
of Google developers behind it including longterm support
for things like security, and other functionality. And that’s a big, big deal. Alright, so here’s the hard question: What the hell does this thing do? So, let’s start with the set-up process. You’re gonna use the
Google Home app for that either on Android phones or
on an iPhone, or an iPad. And yeah, that does mean
that the Lenovo Smart Display ties into your Google account. So that means you’ll be giving it access to things like your
contacts, your video calls, or your calendar, or just your
whole Google knowledge graph of things you search for
or things you want to do, or eat, or go, or watch, or whatever. But it is worth poking through the options in the Google Home app a little bit because that’s where you’re really gonna get a sense of
everything else this can do. So, let’s start with the background, okay? It’s what you’re gonna see just
kinda going on all the time when you’re not actively using it. So it’s called ambient mode and you can choose between
some great curated artwork. Or there are a couple of
neat clock faces, I guess. But what I like to do when I get bored is just make up my own photo gallery with my own personal photos and then you have a digital photo frame. Nice. So, let’s talk about
music for a little bit. You can tie in all sorts
of accounts, right? Google Play Music, the new YouTube Music, Spotify, which is what I use. You can also just do Bluetooth
if that’s how you roll. So music is super simple and remember, because this is a Chromecast target, anything that does Chromecast works. And you can also pair it up with other Google Home
devices around your house to have multi-room music. Very cool. So, how’s the speaker
on this smart display? Ehhhh, look, it’s not great, okay? It’s perfectly fine for casual listening, like in the kitchen, maybe. But it’s absolutely nowhere near as good, as say, Sonos, or Apple’s HomePod. Now with video, things
get a little more tricky. Here’s what’s going on. Now, you saw in the setup,
you can tie in things like your HBO account and
CBS, and stuff like that. You can just use your voice and tell it to play something on HBO. Or play something on CBS, or whatever, and it just works. Voice also works really
well for YouTube, obviously. You say, “Hey, watch
Modern Dad on YouTube,” and it’s gonna work. YouTube TV, though,
doesn’t work via voice. You’re gonna have to use
Chromecast to do that. So you start it from your
phone and send it on over and it works great, it’s
just one extra step. And this is true for some
other streaming apps a well. PlayStation Vue, for
instance, works perfectly. Things that do not work perfectly: Netflix, it won’t actually send video over to the smart display. Can’t do it with your voice,
can’t do it via Chromecast. Now, I asked Netflix about it and they said they have
nothing to share at this time. Which means they have nothing
to share at this time. Don’t know if they’re gonna fix it or not. Some other things are broken too. DirecTV Now sends video but not audio. And Sling tries but just totally fails. So, things are a little
broken on that front. But if you use a service that actually works with it right now, it still makes it a really
cool secondary display. Let’s just hope, though, that they start fixing
this stuff over time. So, what else can you do with
the Lenovo Smart Display? Well, basically think
of anything you can do with a Google Home, or Google
Assistant on your phone, and now you just have this
big display to do it on. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’ll just have the smart
display tell you what it can do. – [Voice On Smart Display]
This is the home screen where you’ll find
notifications, reminders, and important information,
and learn more about what your Google Assistant
can do you for you. Say, “Hey, Google,” to get started. You can ask questions, play
your favorite music and videos, get step-by-step voice guidance
for thousands of recipes, control smart home devices, and more. You could also ask your assistant to complete multiple actions
with a single command. This is called a routine. Just say, “Hey, Google. Good morning,” and your assistant will
show you your calendar, the weather, your commute, and whatever else you
need to start your day. Wanna share the moment? You can video call friends
and family hands-free with Google Duo. Also built in on new Android phones and available for free on iPhones. You can connect compatible
smart home devices, like the lights and thermostat, through the Google Home app on your phone. There you can set up news and
media, customize routines, and change the ambient mode, which is what you’ll see
when you’re not using your smart display. To adjust volume or brightness, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. And any time you wanna exit,
just swipe from the left edge. Give it a try now, and see
what your smart display can do for you. – Alright, one more cool
thing you can do with this, video calls. And in fact, that’s
actually the only thing that the camera currently works with. And, video calls themselves
are pretty limited because you can only do it
over Google Duo right now. Now, that’s actually not a
horrible video-calling app. Problem is, nobody uses it, right? So, if they’re not using Duo, they’re using, say, FaceTime or WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger, or whatever, you’re outta luck. You can only call someone
through Google Duo. But when you do it, it
does work really well. And by the way, this
is the only other time that you might flip it up
and use the thing vertically, and in fact, it’s the only
thing that works vertically. I’m not gonna bother with that, though. So, that is the Lenovo
Smart Display in a nutshell. I mean, after a week of
it, it’s pretty clear it’s gonna be a really
cool device, I think. I’ve thought that before, but it’s also very early in
the lifespan of Android Things. So we’re gonna get more
functionality over time. It’s just a question of when. So should you buy it? Well, again, the eight-inch model, $200 is only $80 more than the
old school Google Home. That’s not bad for adding a
display to the whole thing. And while it’s gonna
depend a good little bit on where you decide to put this thing, whether it’s in the kitchen
or your living room, or even the bedroom, I think I might actually like
that eight-inch size more. It just takes up a whole
lot of real estate, especially if you’re gonna try to put it on a kitchen counter. And, you know, $250
for the ten-inch model, that’s not inexpensive, especially for a first generation product, even one this cool. And again, make no mistake, this is one of the very first products in the Android Things lineup. There will be more, they will get better. And in fact, this one’s gonna
get better too, I think. And look, I need it to get better, okay? Because a lot of the stuff that I still want a whole home hub to do, it just doesn’t do yet, alright? I want my Nest Doorbell
to popup automatically when somebody rings it. I want more video calling with services that people actually use. I think Google will add more
functionality as time goes on, it’s just early days yet. So, should you buy it? Maybe, just know what
you’re getting into, okay? It’s definitely early, it’s
definitely gonna get better. And it’s definitely not inexpensive. Now, is it better than
the Amazon Echo Show? Well, I tell ya, we’re
already running long here. That’s gonna be a whole another video. So, stay tuned for that. Hey, by the way, be sure to subscribe. Hit that little notification
bell thing, wherever it’s at so you be sure to see all the new videos, including the next one on the Echo Show. Go share this with all your friends. That’s it. See ya next time.

71 Replies to “Lenovo Smart Display Review 2018”

  1. Yes, it looks like a test device in some areas, maybe a way to measure the market a beta test what the users might want or like.
    Nice review as always man.
    Video liked as usual

  2. My OCD is kicking in… hate the design. One sided speaker. Prefer a speaker on both sides for a balanced look.

  3. So the Nest Door bell doesn't pop up and let you know someone is at the door on this yet? That would be a big feature for me. Can you use it with your Nest Cameras if you just do a voice command for them?

  4. Are you finding that it suffers the same problem that the Echo Show does (or did)? Specifically, does it provide meaningful visuals for most everything that you talk to it about? I recall you noting that the show felt like a device that, for the most part, felt like an echo with a screen slapped on it. It didn't actually utilize the screen in any meaningful way.

  5. Nice review, new subscriber. I pre-ordered the 10 inch one in June from BH Photo. Maybe mine will be here soon. I made room for it in my home office, where I am most of the time. I may buy more of one of these, after they become available. But this Lenovo looks like the best.

  6. as usual great video and while this looks cool. phil definsaltly answer my question as if I should buy and im just going to wait and see what other manufactor show.

  7. One question one statement and thanks for the review. Question:- how does it sound compared to the Echo Show (that is actually pretty decent for a smart speaker outside Sonos) 2. I now see this as zero chance of YouTube ever coming back to Amazon devices! It was slim anyway before a competing product…

  8. Netflix is a bit weird when it comes to casting. On Android TV, Netflix has casted videos play through the app rather than the chromecast interface. This creates issues like not being able to use Google Home to cast to an Android TV. This may also be related to why you cant cast to it on this device, it doesn't want to use the traditional chromecast interface and the display doesn't have a Netflix app.

  9. 0:04 this is a good joke, but the original I saw in the rough cut was way better (if less Dad-ly)

  10. I thought about it, and then I realized that I can just spend$80 on an Amazon tablet, since they just released an update To create show mode on their tablets. In other words, exactly what this display does, using Amazon Alexa instead of Google Assistant.

  11. at 5:05 – Dieter from the Verge shows YouTubeTV working by voice in his review video. I guess I'll find out for myself tomorrow.

  12. Can you double check YouTubeTV playing? The Verge review by Dieter shows CNN playing via YouTubeTV after a voice request….

  13. Thank you for your review. I've watched several reviews today and this one is my favorite.

    I was hoping I could use this product as a real smart home hub, so that I can install Android apps for other smart devices, such as my Lutron Caseta so I can control my lights as well as Ring doorbell so that when someone rings my video doorbell, I can see them on the screen.

  14. Wait you can use all the Google home speakers through the house to play music at once?
    How?! I have 5 minis a full size home and a Max

  15. I just so much want this blocky quality white plastic/bamboo design in a smartphone (without the curve stand and the speaker of course, and with smaller bezels). Beautiful.

    The hole glass sandwich thing is getting old. I'm tired of it.

  16. Awesome video, great review. What is the bird's-eye, city view screen saver source on the TV in the background?

  17. What is playing on the telly behind you??? Is it a Chromecast live wallpaper ? Very good review… I very much like how you incorporate existing content and don't try to reinvent the wheel. Good job! But seriously…what's on the telly?!?!?!

  18. Hey Phil. This looks very interesting. Does Sirius XM work on the device? Also, can you view Nest cameras on it?

  19. Um… I wonder if we can just load "Google things" to a tablet and have the same thing ? I have a few laying around, would be nice to set up smart screen around my house with them !

  20. I think u should also do the smartphone review even though I am new here but I guess u can do those things too good video..!!!

  21. I can't help but think that I this stage, if they want me to get yet another device, it has to either provide magic usefulness, or replace an existing device. Alas, it seems that thing's sound isn't good enough to even stand on its own as a speaker for music. I'll keep Skyping off my tablet and cooking off my phone then !

  22. can you connect a better speaker by bluetooth to this? i have a jbl extreme i would like to use, i wish they had a 3.5 mm jack, and a usb c port on the back of the device

  23. Nice production, I was expecting more dad jokes. Haha. It's funny how terrible the original photo frames were and how much they cost. Any tips on what to do with an old one?

  24. I have a chromecast TV, can I get this device to launch hulu/prime/netflix/etc to the tv or from the tv?

  25. I've got one on it's way, hopefully arriving here tomorrow. Attention Costco Shoppers! If you're a Costco member, you can buy the larger, 10-inch model for $200, with free shipping, plus the usual sales tax for your locale.

    RE: what it can do today, vs. what it might do in the future, these things (pardon the pun) have to use the Google-specified hardware modules made by (as of today) one of three vendors. The Qualcomm module inside this one is an example. Because of this, all the devices should be able to be updated and have features added easily. This solves the old "Android OEM fragmentation" problem, making it more likely that new functions will be added, and when they are, they should work on every device running the specified hardware. Google is aggressively courting app developers, citing this as a reason to develop for the platform: no futzing with your app to make sure it runs on thousands of different Android smartphones or tablets. Think of this as a Google Home, in terms of ongoing support; the main difference is that Google created a generic hardware spec and worked with OEMs to provide modules for other OEMs to turn into finished products.

    I have a lot more faith in Google maintaining this platform, than the tragically awful Chumby, which was a smaller and much less capable product, apparently designed by some lazy stoners, who lost interest and lost funding.

    Off-topic, but it made me laugh: Your show is called "Modern Dad", and you are wearing a V-neck undershirt. My late father routinely sat around the house in his V-necks all the time. So, if you did that to align with your Dad theme, then kudos! If you did that because you don't own any crew neck T-shirts, then, well, go buy some T-shirts. Otherwise, a humorous and informative review!

  26. I'm sure all these streaming services will become available over time so not too bothered by that for now. YouTube has been good enough for now when I'm just getting ready in the morning.

  27. Just set up my smart display to cast photos from Google Photos on the ambient display mode. My counter has definitely been spruced up a great deal!

  28. Can you do a video please that showcases how well this device provides help and displays it to kids doing homework. For example, if they ask Google to spell “tiger” will the answer come up in a small speech bubble like on a tablet or does it take up the majority of the screen?

  29. Do other people have very stubborn friends or family? I have a lot of iPhone freinds and family members and nobody gives me a hard time about downloading Duo so we can video chat. NONE in fact they get very excited to do so. Am I just an anomaly?.

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