Smart displays have changed the way many have interacted with Google Assistant, and they’re continually getting better. This week at CES 2019, Lenovo unveiled a new product in the Smart Clock, and it’s the perfect way to bring Assistant into your bedroom. Here’s our initial thoughts on the Lenovo Smart Display.

We’ve got another post detailing the Smart Clock in full, but in a private meeting with Lenovo we were able to spend some time with an early version of the product to get a sense of how it’ll fit into the average bedroom. My takeaway: it’s a perfect addition to any nightstand.

The size of the Lenovo Smart Clock is unlike any other smart display we’ve seen so far. The Google Home Hub is pretty adorable with its 7-inch display, but with a 4-inch display, Lenovo has just gone above and beyond. Comparing it to the 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display is a borderline laughable comparison. It’s also got a fabric design on the back which looks great and is neutral enough to fit in with most other decor.

Because of that small size, Lenovo has worked with Google to develop completely new software experience on this product. The Smart Clock doesn’t have the same interface as you’ll see on any other Smart Display, but it’s still based on Android Things and it’s also developed by the same team which crafted the smart display UI.

When not in use, the Smart Clock shows just the time rather than a slideshow of photos. That clockface is also customizable with several different options available. Unfortunately, I can’t show them all since several are still under development, as is the mechanism to switch them. When you say the “Hey Google” trigger word, the clock comes to life with a full-screen interface to show that it’s listening.

Swiping to the right on the screen will reveal several pages. These are also optimized for the bedroom, offering options like the alarm clock first and then showing weather, commute information, calendar events, and more from there. One thing I really like about this new interface too is that the clockface can also suggest that you set an alarm and what time based on calendar events and your previous alarm history.

Other clever additions for the bedroom include how it handles brightness. At night when the room is dark, the display gets very dim to avoid keeping you up as you try to sleep. A feature called “gentle wake-up” also mimics the sunrise by using bright colors and maxing out the display brightness over a 30-minute period to help you wake up more naturally.

As far as Assistant features go, I’m told by Google and Lenovo that the Smart Clock has full feature parity with Assistant speakers. However, there are certain things you can do on a standard smart display that can’t be done here. Streaming videos and pulling up recipes are good examples of that.

For $79, I can honestly say the Lenovo Smart Clock is a no-brainer for basically anyone. It fits anywhere you’d put a normal alarm clock, offers tons of useful features, and is a new category entirely which does its job super well.

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Ben Schoon

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