Hands On: Lenovo's Google Assistant-Powered Smart Display – CES 2018

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Lenovo has just taken the wraps off of a brand new product with the Google Assistant baked in, here at CES 2018. And that's the Lenovo Smart Display. Simply put, it's a Google Home with a display. The new Smart Display is going to be available in two sizes – 8-inches and 10-inches – and it's slated to be available this summer. Pricing is not official, but Lenovo is aiming at $199 for the 8-inch model and the 10-inch model at $249.

The Smart Display from Lenovo still has a bit of work to be done, particularly on the software front, but Lenovo and Google do plan to have it completed before it is launched in the summer. The Smart Display can do basically everything you'd expect a Google Assistant-powered device to be able to do. But with a display, the Google Assistant gets amplified. One of the few examples that Google showed us during our hands on time, was the fact that the display makes it easier to follow a recipe. Or if you don't know how to do something, you can ask Google how and it'll show you a related video on YouTube. That's something that Google Home can't do, unless you have an Android TV device and tell is to play it from YouTube on that device (like an NVIDIA SHIELD TV). Of course it also makes trivia games more impressive. Like with the Assistant on your smartphone, the Smart Display can be interacted with using your finger or your voice. So you can tap the screen and talk to Google or say "OK Google" or even "Hey Google".

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Currently, the Smart Display can only sit in landscape mode, but there is plans to make it work in portrait mode. The device has a speaker on the left side, or if you stand it in portrait mode, it'll be on the bottom. Speaking of the speaker, it actually works pretty well. It's not perfect, but it is fairly close to what you'd get out of the Google Home. Now Lenovo and Google did say that the speaker isn't completely tuned right now, so it'll get better before release.

When it comes to the build quality of the Lenovo Smart Display, it's pretty impressive. Now it is made of plastic, but the white speaker and frame with the display looks really sharp. And on the back, you'll find a few different finishes, including a wood model and a soft-touch white (similar to the Pixel 2 XL in black white). The bottom of the display, near the speaker is much thicker, it is actually formed in a triangle which looks really nice actually. But it also allows you to stand it in portrait or landscape mode, as we mentioned already. But there are a couple great features built-into the hardware here. There is a manual switch for both the microphone and the camera. And when you turn off the camera, you can see a red filter go over the camera so you know that it is actually off.

Many might be wondering what the use-case would be for something like this. Well, for the most part, people are likely going to put it in their kitchen. It has all of the usual Google services, like Duo, YouTube, Google Maps, and it even works with smart home devices that already support the Assistant. So if you have a Nest Cam, you can ask Google to show that room that the camera is in, on the Smart Display. These features aren't really new, since the Amazon Echo Show has had it for quite a while. But the main difference here is the better display, as well as well as there being more actions available.

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The Smart Display is likely going to be a pretty popular product when it launches this summer, especially since it'll will work with the Routines that Google is announcing for Assistant. Which allows you to set different routines, like saying "Good Morning" and Google telling you the time, the weather, how traffic is for work and showing you the latest news.