Price: $ 80
Last year, Google impressed the tech world with the Home Hub, an outstanding smart home management tool, and a miniature entertainment center. Lenovo Smart Clock is a smaller sequel despite the different branding. And it's just as good.
What we like
- Fantastic physical design
- Excellent user interface
- Tiny size with integrated screen and speaker
- Works great as an alarm clock
- Good value for money at $ 80
And what we do not
- charger is large and proprietary
- USB charger is only 5 watts
- Music management is simple, no video options
Sport u The 4-inch screen, a 6-watt speaker, A subtle, fabric-covered design and great integration with Google's Assistant and Home systems make the Smart Clock a fantastic addition to any compatible Smarthome setup. But what surprised me is that, thanks to some clever design decisions, it makes a great little night alarm. And for $ 80, just over half the price of the Home Hub and $ 30 more than the Home Mini, it's also excellent value for money.
The Smart Clock is a great product that is unreservedly recommended. It's an almost perfect device if you want a Home Mini with display or just an alarm clock with some web-enabled tools and audio options.
Intelligent, unobtrusive physical design
At first glance, the Smart Clock looks like a miniaturized Google Home Hub. The subtle gray fabric cover fits in almost every home decor. And it's small enough to fit anywhere: about the size of a soda can. Relative to the absolute volume, it is only slightly larger than the Home Mini.
However, if the Home Mini is designed only for voice commands with subsequently incorporated touch controls, the Smart Clock expects a much more tactile interaction. At the top there are only two physical keys, which are louder and quieter and between which there is an invisible sensor to touch. (Read more later.)
There are no physical controls on the screen. However, if you look closely, you can see two microphones located above a light sensor on the top bezel. There is no camera to find. On the back there is a proprietary power cord (no internal battery), a microphone on / off switch, and a full-size USB port that allows you to easily charge any phone.
And that was it's. The beveled case and fabric cover is reminiscent of Google's products, rather than the original bamboo-covered Lenovo Smart Speaker. But with its size and feel, I remember the Chumby, an ingenious, web-based, small screen device from 2008. It has been linked as an alarm clock, among other things. Chumby has long been dead, but I think his unique design (if not his independent, hack-friendly mind) lives on in the Smart Clock.
A Perfect "Goldilocks" Gadget
The original Google Home Speaker is said to be the product between the Home Hub with its 7-inch screen and the decent speaker and the Home Mini, a tiny screen-free booster point with USB power for intelligent voice commands. Lenovo seems to have built the Smart Clock both as a replacement for the original Home (priced) and as the midpoint between the Home Mini and the Home Hub (in terms of features).
The Smart Clock nails this hub and gives users the Home Hub's screen interactions with the size and accessibility of the Home Mini. The standard voice commands from Google Assistant are expected to be easy to use. For more granular control, you can access standard light, music and pre-programmed Smarthome routines through the screen. The actual administration is best done via the home app of your phone. Access to already installed and configured components via the Smart Clock is child's play.
Oh, and there is a small but highly appreciated technical innovation: the Smart Clock works with 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks. Many smarthome devices are cheap on a less powerful Wi-Fi chip that insists you keep a 2.4GHz band going – and I've even seen some Lenovo budget laptops doing the same – but that is not the case here. I'm very grateful.
You believe that the Smart Clock utility, like the Home Hub, is limited if you do not already have a home on the Google Home / Assistant platform. And it's certainly true that the device shines here. But it is also an amazingly powerful alarm clock for itself.
Clock it to Me
Lenovo did not call this thing an "alarm clock" with its small, integrated phone charger and custom screen interface. Smart Clock "for nothing. The design choices on the display make it an amazing companion in the bedroom.
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I mean, the Smart Clock is the perfect device to sit on your bedside table. It has a user interface and a physical design, so that the functions of a clock are always in the foreground of the design. Take, for example, the volume keys: unlike the Home Mini, where the volume control is not recognizable as unlabeled touch zones, the "+" and "-" keys on the smart watch are easy to see, even with your eyes closed.
That's not all. The smart clock also has a single unlabeled touch key, but it is intelligently placed between the pronounced volume keys. This will allow you to tap the top of the clock to disable or "snooze" (a selection in the settings menu) the style of an old-fashioned digital alarm clock, without you having to open your tired eyes first thing in the morning. The included phone charging port is a smart addition, although I wanted more watts. The quick charge mode of my Galaxy Note 8 was not activated when connecting. I therefore assume that only 5 W are used.
The screen interface is also optimized for all things you want to do first thing in the morning or last in the evening. Swiping left and right on the home screen will cycle through the clock, alarm control, local weather, and music controls (if they're playing). If you swipe down from one of these screens, you can quickly set a new alarm, play music, turn off the lights in your bedroom (if they're connected to your Google Home system), or turn on the default "Good night" setting. Home actions.
The Smart Clock lets you use virtually any smart home or alarm you want to use from your bed. Of course, this also applies to the Home Hub. The former is only half as expensive, a fraction of the size, and includes a phone charging port. The specific design for specific purposes is shown here in full. However, I would like to point out that you may miss an alarm if your home loses power at night because there is no battery of its own.
A few disadvantages
I was tempted to give the smart watch a perfect rating. However, there are some disadvantages. The first thing you'll notice when setting up is that it uses a proprietary charger with a large, chunky wall wart. This is no longer necessary today – a friendlier USB charging system is not so easy to unplug (which happened to me a few times). And Google's own home devices show that you do not need a large plug for the power requirements of this device.
Unfortunately, the Smart Clock does not have the almost magical dimming and brightening power of the Home Hub. For example, it can not get completely dark without a voice command. But when I found the automatic brightness control (which strangely disappears the second time you press the sun icon when the brightness slider is active), it got dark enough to sleep just a few inches away.
The Smart Clock is also a bit poor in terms of media management. The built-in music player can only pause / play in compatible music services or select new songs, change your playlist, or even move thumbs up / down on Pandora. You're expected to do this on your phone … but since you can start music directly from the UI, I would have liked to have one of my favorite channels selected rather than just playing the last one.
Google's home software system treats the Smart Clock as a pure audio device, allowing you to transfer music or spoken word apps, but not videos like Netflix. Sure, the screen of your phone is almost certainly bigger than the smart clock, but I know many people who would like to fall asleep in a Futurama retreat. After all, the speaker is nothing to be humbled about. For simple music or alarm clocks it is sufficiently loud, but even in the midrange at higher volumes very "loud". If you're looking for something with high fidelity, this six-watt driver is not true, even with the "dual passive emitters" on the datasheet.
Conclusion: Let's go
The above-mentioned disadvantages are minimal in the worst case. The Smart Clock is a fantastic smart home device and an even better wireless alarm clock. It's a perfect centerpiece in Google's home system (though it's not technically provided by Google itself). If you're looking for something that fits into your bedroom in Google Home and Google Assistant, but is also easy to use, unobtrusive and useful, it's almost perfect.
At $ 80, the Smart Clock is more than adequate for its hardware and capabilities. It does not hurt that these devices often come on the market. Get one for your smarthome – one, even if you just want an alarm clock that listens to your phone.
What we like here
- Fantastic physical design
- Excellent on-screen user interface
- Tiny size with built-in screen and speaker
- Works great as an alarm clock on its own
- Good value for $ 80
And what we do not do
- The wall charger is large and proprietary
- . USB charger is only 5 watts
- Music management is easy, no video options