The Lenovo Smart Display 10 ($249) is next up for review here at Android Unfiltered. Powered by Google Assistant, this device gives you the same stuff you get with a traditional Google Home speaker, but you also get video calling and a vibrant touchscreen display to add to the experience.
These days, there are three major options when it comes to virtual assistants. Apple has Siri. Amazon’s Alexa is another a popular choice, as is the Google Assistant. If you’re a user of the latter option, the Lenovo Smart Display will be a welcomed addition to your existing smart home ecosystem.
And, if you’re new to virtual assistants in general, Google’s option is extremely useful and easy to use. So, I highly recommend it for that reason.
Assuming you are already familiar with Google Assistant, let’s take a look at the Lenovo Smart Display 10. As usual, we’ll get the specs out of the way first.
The Lenovo Smart Display 10 is a good-looking piece of hardware that features a logical and straightforward design. As noted in the specs, it has dimensions of 173.87 mm x 311.37 mm and is mostly used in a landscape orientation. You have to turn it on its side into a portrait orientation to use the Google Duo video calling feature, which I’ll go over later in this review.
The front of the device is mostly its display, which is a 10.1-inch IPS touchscreen panel. The left side of the front of the device (the bottom, if you have the device in portrait orientation) houses a 2-inch 10W Full Range Speaker and two Passive Tweeters. A grate-like piece of white plastic filled with holes covers the speakers. The camera is on the top right corner of the display, or top left corner when the device is in portrait orientation.
In landscape mode, the top right side of the device along the display has a microphone toggle button which turns the mic on and off. There is also a volume up and down button. On the side of the device, directly next to the camera, there’s a shutter button that turns the camera on and off.
The back of the device features a bamboo-like material that adds zero to the usability of the device, but it does make it look super sexy. The power input jack is also on the back of the device – bottom righthand corner in landscape, bottom lefthand corner in portrait.
The device has an oblong triangular shape on its back to assist in keeping it steady in either orientation. It also has rubber “feet” around all of its sides to keep the display from slipping.
The Lenovo Smart Display 10 has a screen that is both vibrant and crisp. The text displayed on the screen is easy to read and icons are more than big enough to see, even from across the room. Blacks are nice and deep, while whites are bright and… well… white.
Overall the display is great to look at, and with features like automatic brightness, it’s pretty easy on the eyes. The display gets brighter in a room with more light and gets darker when there’s less light available. This might seem small, but it’s a feature my old eyes appreciate.
And speaking of light, there’s no light bleed on my review unit worth mentioning. That’s always a good thing.
For only having a 2-inch 10W speaker and two “passive” tweeters, I have zero complaints in the sound quality department. In fact, I’m quite impressed by the sound this thing kicks out.
The bass is heavy enough for me to feel it vibrating my desk while I’m typing this and rocking out to Bohemian Rapsody in the Style of System of a Down. Now, it’s not going to knock any pictures off of the wall, but it’s certainly sufficient for my desk in the living room of my three bedroom apartment.
Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, and others are supported for an awesome listening experience.
When talking to Google Assistant, I can hear the device clearly from across the room. And more importantly, the device can hear me just as clear. This is obviously good for a device that is best operated by voice.
Calling and video calls
Making calls on the Lenovo Smart Display 10 is a pleasurable experience. You simply say, “Okay, Google, call (someone in your contact list), and it just works. You can also call businesses, as well, although the results are sometimes hit or miss.
Call volume and sound quality are great, as is the audio picked up by the microphone and sent out to the other end of the line – or so I’m told, anyway.
Video call quality is limited to 720p, which is kind of a bummer. I assume this is to keep the calls mobile data friendly for smartphone users. That being said, the quality of video calls are totally satisfactory for my needs. I don’t make them often, but for those that do will appreciate this device, I believe.
One thing worth mentioning – Google Duo is the only video chat service available. I’d like to see the ability to make Skype calls, and maybe even Google Hangouts video calls, although the latter will likely never happen because Google neglects Hangouts.
What else can you do with the Lenovo Smart Display 10?
I could ramble on about what you can do with this device for a long time. Too much time for this review, unfortunately. So, I’m just going to touch on the most important features – the ones you’ll only find in a screen-toting Google Assistant device.
Here they are, in no particular order.
See your answers – not just hear them
There’s something to be said about the visual experience the Lenovo Smart Display 10 offers. Sure, you can ask Google Home all the same things, but in many cases, the Smart Display will give you a response that you can see, as well as an audio response.
You can check the weather, control smart home devices, and watch videos from a number of different providers, like YouTube and HBO GO. Curiously, Netflix doesn’t allow you to cast videos to the smart display at the time of this review, which is kind of a bummer.
Make dinner like a boss
Not only can you browse recipes with this device, but you can also buy ingredients (and other goods) directly from Google Express. And once you have everything you need for the meal you’re planning, the Lenovo Smart Display 10 will show you how to prepare the recipe, step-by-step. You can even pause and resume the recipe to work at your own pace.
Buy stuff from Google Express
As I mentioned above, you can also use this smart display to make purchases from the Google Express service. In case you’re unfamiliar, Google Express offers one-stop shopping at a huge number of retailers, like Walmart, Costco, Target, and Walgreens.
To make a purchase, you simply say “Okay, Google, buy (whatever it is you’re looking to buy”. For example, when using looking to buy a PlayStation 4, the screen shows several different places that sell the PS4. After finding the item you want, you’d hit the “Add to Cart” button on the smart display, which sends a link back to your phone and allows you to complete your purchase.
This is super handy, although you can’t buy stuff from Amazon as you can with Alexa, for obvious reasons.
The best digital photo frame you can get
Google Photos integrates very well with the Lenovo Smart Display 10. You can ask it to show you pictures of specific people, places, and things. You can also ask it to show photos from a specific period of time.
As a photographer, I can’t speak highly enough about this device from a digital photo viewer perspective. This is exactly what I need to keep my memories fresh and rotating on my desktop in an easily customizable manner.
What you can’t do with the Lenovo Smart Display 10
While everything up to this point has been peaches and rainbows, the Lenovo Smart Display 10 does have a couple of shortcomings.
For one, you can’t download apps to the device from Google Play (or any other source, for that matter. Despite looking and acting like a tablet, you’re strictly limited to functions the Google Assistant can manage. Luckily, there are lots of those.
And on the nit-picky side of things, you can’t adjust the front-facing camera for video calls. If the device sits too high on your desk as it does in mind, you’ll have to sit up in an uncomfortable position to properly frame yourself within the video calling screen.
Of course, the device can’t change the oil in your car, nor will it pay your bills – although it will remind you to pay them if you remember to set a reminder to do so. But, you get the point: there’s tons of features and functionality packed into this display.
Where to buy
If you have the $249 to throw at a purchase like this, you can pick up the Lenovo Smart Display 10 directly from the manufacturer website. At this price point, I have no issues recommending this device to anyone looking to add a smart display to their home or office.