A Great Entry Into A New Smart Home Niche Market

Highs

  • Great clock design
  • Good sound quality
  • Charging port
  • Privacy audio shutter

Lows

  • Display brightness significantly lower than competitors
  • Fewer Skills Than Alexa

Rating and Price

  • Rating: 9.1/10

Smart Display assistants have pushed the boundaries farther than “speaker assistants” and are great for the living room, office, or kitchen. However, the bedroom is the next frontier, and, in that location, smart clocks seem like the most convenient form smart assistant can take.

With a price of $79, the Lenovo Smart Clock starts with a considerable price advantage over something like the similarly sized Echo Spot ($129). The Lenovo Smart Clock is part of the Google Assistant echo-system which competes against Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

In this review, we’ll assume that you like the idea of having a smart assistant in your bedroom, and we understand that it is a niche market for now, but many power-users do enjoy the kind of use cases described below.

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Smart Clock Design

When it comes to size, the Lenovo Smart Clock design and size fit right into that category. It is smaller than many alarm clocks found in hotels and has physical volume buttons placed at the top. The surface is covered in a soft mesh that looks very much like what Google uses on their speakers or Pixel 3 phone cases.

In the back, you can find a power connector which is not USB-bases, surprisingly. Next to it, there’s a physical microphone switch to turn OFF any audio recording when you don’t need it. Finally, there’s a full-size USB-A connector that can be used to charge a smartphone or connect a wireless charger.

Lenovo is probably using a round Power connector because a single USB-C to power both the clock and charge a phone might be more expensive, although technically, USB-C power delivery should be able to perform this task.

Just above the display, there are two small microphones holes, and Lenovo says that the far-field microphone technology works in an 8-yard radius. Lenovo has not included a camera in this Alarm Clock.

The screen itself only shows the time when it is in standby mode, along with perhaps the current weather, depending on the clock design you have chosen. There is a dozen to choose from, and we can only hope that more will come.

"SURPRISINGLY GOOD AUDIO QUALITY"

The clock face has essential options such as making it extra-dark when lights are turned off (it helps to sleep), or keeping it brighter, depending on your specific location (desk vs. bed) and needs.

The audio quality of the 6W speaker is surprisingly good for a device of this type and size. It is most definitely more powerful than what is needed to wake you up, and is even quite agreeable to listen to music in your room.

Alarms and Voice Assistant

The Lenovo Smart Clock is a great alarm clock, and that’s not a surprise at all since the user experience of regular alarm clocks is usually awful.

It’s also easy to set up multiple alarms or recurring alarms. There’s also a “sunrise alarm” mode in which the Smart Clock makes the display brighter ~30 minutes before the alarm goes off. It’s a way to soften your wake-up for a more restful sleep cycle.

"SOFTEN YOUR WAKE-UP FOR A MORE RESTFUL SLEEP CYCLE"

When the alarm does go off, you can snooze it by tapping the top of the Smart Clock, which snoozes the buzzer sound for the next 10 minutes. You can stop it by using the touch screen, or with a voice command such as “Hey Google, Stop Alarm.”

The Lenovo Smart Clock is a superset of the functionality offered by voice assistants, such as web search, weather, home control, and many things that voice assistants do. Lenovo even sells the Lenovo SmartHome Essentials to help you turn your home into a smart home.

If your home is equipped with smart cameras or doorbell, it might be possible to check them from the Smart Clock, but this depends on the actual brand and app version of your security system, so we have not tested this, and the only confirmed compatibility we’ve seen is with Google’s Nest system.

Despite having a screen, the Lenovo Smart Alarm is different from other display assistants, however. It is not able to play video on its 4-inch screen and some apps are visually different to accommodate the smaller display size.

The user interface changes make sense because some of the fine details would be unreadable (too small), and it’s first and foremost an Alarm Clock.

If you use it on a desk and want to be able to watch videos, you may want to consider a more expensive option from Amazon, or you could just cast the video to a nearby Chromecast-compatible display or smart TV. This option is built into the Lenovo Smart Clock device and it’s also possible to cast audio-only content to a connected speaker.

Conclusion

The Lenovo Smart Clock does is job brilliantly thanks to a slick design that features everything one would want from an alarm clock. With the physical privacy shutter and the USB charging port, it is an excellent bedside gadget.

At $79, it is an excellent value-proposition as the competition from the Amazon Echo Show 5 costs $89+ and the Amazon Echo Spot goes for $129.

It’s true that the Amazon products have a camera, but we don’t think that small screens (5.5” and below) offer a great video-calls or movie experience as they sit on a bedside table. Generally speaking, video calls look a whole lot better on a larger screen such as the Lenovo Smart Display, and products that have 8-10 inches displays.

Overall product rating: 9.1/10

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