It did not take long for someone to bring out a Google Home enabled ‘tablet’. Lenovo Smart Display is the first of the mark.

Previewed at CES 2018 in February it was launched last week in the U.S. It will be coming to Australia soon.

Why a Lenovo smart display?

The Lenovo Smart Display (US website here) has several advantages over existing smart speakers and some key differentiators compared to other smart displays.

Lenovo Smart Display vs. a smart speaker:

  • Music: View your playlist to make selections
  • Calling: Make video calls, not just audio ones
  • Search: Get visual results (how-to videos, etc.)
  • Calendar: See — don’t just hear — your schedule
Lenovo Smart Display vs. other smart displays:*

  • Photos: Native integration with the popular Google Photos service
  • Video: Access to YouTube’s massive video library
  • Calling: Native integration with Google Duo video calling

*Comparison is to smart displays that do not use Google Assistant. When it debuted, Lenovo Smart Display was the only such device to use Google Assistant.

Design features of the Lenovo Smart Display

  • Displays: 8″ 1280 x 720 or 10″1920 x 1200 touch screens
  • Price: US$200 for the 8″ and $250 for the 10”
  • Exteriors: Bamboo or Soft Gray skins suitable for most home or office decors
  • Adaptability: Dual standing positions (landscape or portrait) help it fit anywhere
  • Privacy: Physical shutter to block the camera and a visible mic mute toggle setting
  • Sound: Full-range speaker with two tweeters and multi-room audio support

Lenovo smart display

Why a Lenovo smart display?

Voice control is good, but voice and vision are heaps better. If you’re a visual person, this new category will sound more enticing than smart speakers.

Assistant also provides a step-by-step visual aid for recipes you look up that you can follow on screen. It can present a visual summary of the weather, give you a way to create and manage to-do lists and show you audio tracks you can listen to instead of randomly playing a tune.

The Smart Display can also stream live or recorded YouTube TV shows, YouTube Music, HBO Now, Google Play Music, Spotify and Pandora. It can listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

If you want to make a video call say “Hey Google, call (name must be in Contacts).”

Lenovo Smart DisplayBut it is not a tablet

While you could do much of this with an Android tablet, it is not one ‘per se’. Touch is on a contextual basis – when you need it. It focuses on Google Home.

You can Chromecast to it, and it supports multi-room Google Home enabled speakers.

It will add more home automation apps and controls too. This may just be the audio/visual hub needed to bring on more smart home integration.