Thanks to smart speaker and displays, it’s possible to get a voice assistant and the internet in more parts of your home, and that includes your bedside.
We don’t all have smart homes yet, but that is gradually changing. As smart light bulbs become more common, as smart security cameras start to be adopted alongside smart doorbells and other home safeguards, and as our appliances start to find a way to be controlled using our phones and voices, the idea of the smart home is becoming something that is clearer and easier to get a hold of.
It’s a gradual change, to be sure, as most things are, but making it something you can rely on depends on the smart home being easy to control, and that doesn’t just come from your phone, but the devices you place around your home.
That includes smart speakers that you can talk to, and other devices that extend that idea in other ways, such as the bedside clock.
It’s an area we’ve seen companies such as Amazon and Lenovo dabble in over the past couple of years, the Amazon Echo Spot appearing like an Alexa-based alarm clock with a screen, and the Lenovo Smart Clock doing the Google Assistant thing with a small smart display sized for a nightstand of sorts.
In fact, back when we first reviewed it mid last year, we liked the idea, but thought the screen needed to be better looking from angles and even less bright, because those were surely issues if the Smart Clock was next to your bed. Google eventually added a photo frame feature which helped make it more like a standard smart display, but screen quality is rarely changed by software.
So this week, there’s a new model on the way, arriving in the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, which is near the same size as the original, but instead of that bright colour LCD screen from the standard Smart Clock that washed out at angled, Lenovo’s Smart Clock Essential uses an LED display that can be viewed from more angles and has varying degrees of brightness helped in part by an ambient light sensor.
There’s also a small speaker inside — likely not fantastic for music, given the previous model wasn’t either — though Google Assistant is along for the ride, allowing you to talk to the speaker as and when you need to.
Essentially, the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is more a smart speaker with a basic alarm clock display in front, which might just be more reliable as an alarm clock screen than what Lenovo initially released in the first Smart Clock.
You’ll also find a small built-in light and a USB plug to charge devices like phones and wireless earphones, and thanks to that Google Assistant connection, it can control devices in the home.
And just like the other Smart Clock, the Smart Clock Essential will be coming to Australia, set to arrive locally in September for $99. Comparatively, the older model, the LCD-equipped Lenovo Smart Clock is still on the market for around $79 at street price, though it’s not yet known if Lenovo will keep that one around when the Essential rocks up. We’ll let you know when we find out more.