You can now finally buy Lenovo’s new smart alarm clock that made its initial debut way back at CES 2019
! Was this alarm clock worth the wait? In our last post, we looked at the all-new Echo Show 5. With a scaled-down, 5 ½-inch screen and its "perfect for the bedside table" approach, the smart display landscape is changing. Amazon already has Echo Spot in its second iteration, but it's a bit outdated now, which makes the retooled Echo Show 5 all the more welcome. Google Nest Hub also comes with a smaller screen, so Lenovo has hit back and adapted to the new order of smart displays. The iconic Lenovo Smart Display
has been around for a couple of years. Packing either an 8-inch or 10-inch screen, Lenovo has downsized their products significantly. Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock is an excellent addition to the collection and we are going to break it down for you right now.
Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock
Check out the five main selling points of this pocket-friendly bedside companion at a glance:
Key Benefits of Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock
- Compact enough to slip on your nightstand without overcrowding it
- Limited functionality works to your advantage in a smart bedroom device
- No camera=no privacy concerns
- Robust smart home control with Google Assistant
- Surprisingly strong audio for a compact speaker
We’ll dive into a little more detail across the following areas:
- Pricing and Availability
- Design and Dimensions
- Keeping Distracting Tech Out of The Bedroom
- Smart Natural Alarm
- Overall Functionality
- The Soundscape
Pricing and Availability
Priced at just $79.99, Smart Alarm Clock might not be in whim purchase territory, but it’s well within most budgets. You can currently get the best deal directly through Lenovo.
Design and Dimensions
Even if you have a crowded bedside dresser, this dinky little 4-inch HD screen won't eat up too much space. We’ll look at the display itself in more depth below. The raked-back design with a gray fabric finish allows the smart alarm clock to blend in rather than stand out. You get no choice when it comes to the color of the fabric. You get more options to customize the clock face with a choice of 10 analog and digital layouts. You’ll be able to add temperature and weather conditions to the display. You can also see what music is playing. Although you can arrange for the screen to dim automatically, it isn't as intelligent as the Google Nest Hub. Occasionally the screen ends up a little too dim to read. Overall, you’ll still be able to avoid the distracting bright screen that many alarm clocks have, so your sleep won't be disturbed. Located along the top are physical volume controls. In back, you’ll find a slider to mute the volume, a power port, and a USB charging port. There is no physical power button. The device simply switches itself on as you plug it in. This makes for a leaner, cleaner look. So, Smart Alarm Clock certainly looks the part, but is it a case of form over function?
Keep Distracting Tech Out of The Bedroom
There are many reasons why you should keep your cellphone out of the bedroom
. The white light can cause insomnia
and the distraction offered by modern smartphones doesn’t do you any favors either. While we hear all the time about the importance of a tech detox in the bedroom, it’s hard to actually implement it. For years now, watches have become more decorative than functional. After all, your phone is always a short distance away with the time displayed large across the screen. Equally, alarm clocks have gradually fallen out of favor since it’s all too easy to rely on your phone alarm. With the functionality of Smart Alarm Clock stripped to the bone, you’ll be able to perform the tasks you need without getting distracted. There is no Facebook to stare at and scroll through, but you can still keep your eye on the metrics that count. If you want the ability to check on your security camera, see your calendar, or control other smart devices by voice command, you’re in luck. If you prefer aimlessly surfing, you should just try sleeping instead. So, with all that distracting tech removed from temptation, how about the actual alarm clock?
Smart Natural Alarm
Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock will analyze your calendar for you and make suggestions for an alarm time based on that. This is about the only time Lenovo forces itself on you. You won’t feel the same pressure exerted as Google Nest Hub or Echo Show since these devices seem to be continually making suggestions. Pestering devices are not something you want in the bedroom. You can set alarms using Google Assistant and voice commands or you can set them by using the on-screen interface. If you opt for a sunrise alarm, the display starts to gradually brighten in the lead-up to the alarm sounding. This gives your eyes time to adjust before you begin your day. The alarm starts gently and quietly, so an annoying noise won't rudely awake you. You have a wide number of tones to choose from. You can also opt to be woken by your favorite tunes or by your online radio station of choice. Simply tap the device if you want to (literally) hit snooze. You can also command the alarm to “stop,” and you’ll cut the noise hands-free. This is one of the only ways you can avoid saying “Hey Google” first since no form of continuous chat is available on this display. If you want to snooze, you’ll have to issue the full command or tap it. Do you like taking power naps during the afternoon? If so, Nap Timer allows you a 20-minute session before alerting you. This will help you feel energized and refreshed not guilt you slept for hours.
We’ll reiterate here that functionality might be slightly limited, but that’s a good thing. Too often, smart devices deviate from their intended purpose in the quest to bake in as much tech as possible. That said, if you intend to buy this device in the quest for full smart display functionality, you’ll end up disappointed. The thing is, Smart Alarm Clock was developed with Google. Therefore, it’s been expressly designed to work alongside their product line rather than competing with it. The rebranded Google Nest Hub can do plenty that Smart Alarm Clock can’t but, as we say, it’s not meant to compete. The display itself is small but perfectly formed with a resolution of 800 x 480. Smart Alarm Clock runs on Android Things and comes powered by Google Assistant. As with any larger smart display, you’ll be able to control other compatible devices in your connected home. You’ll be able to monitor the live feed from your security camera right from your bedroom, which gives peace of mind and leaves you worry-free in the bedroom. The smaller screen forces certain compromises. There are no dropdown shortcuts on-screen, but you can use Google Assistant instead so this is hardly a deal-breaker. You won’t be able to use the Smart Alarm Clock to display photos as you can with Echo Show 5. Again, we’d say you should consider its intended purpose, rather than looking at what this clock doesn’t do. We can't consider this a drawback since the last thing you want is a bright light on your nightstand. The same applies to the absence of a camera. With all the commotion over privacy, this is a wise omission in a smart device intended for use in your most private space.
How’s The Soundscape?
The 1 ½-inch 3-watt speaker has a peak power of 6 watts and boasts a dual-passive radiator. While the audio component of most smart speakers and smart displays is almost laughably weak, Smart Alarm Clock acquits itself rather well. Whether you’re easing into your day or getting ready for a night out, you’ll be able to break your favorite tunes out. Volume is impressive for such a compact device, and you won’t be menaced by distortion or muddiness, even when you’ve got it cranked up all the way. In our considered opinion, the soundscape is superior to that on the larger, pricier Google Nest Hub. Having said all this, don’t expect to get thundering sound that will fill a huge room. If you want that, you’ll simply need a larger device. We’d suggest either Google Home Max
or one of the Bose speakers we recently explored here at Smart Home.
Is Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock Worth It?
As we pointed out, Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock is not built to compete with larger smart displays. If you’re looking for complete and rounded functionality, along with a screen large enough to watch a movie on, this is not the device for you. Maybe you find you sleep just fine with your smartphone in your bedroom. Perhaps you’re not concerned about the points we raised about distracting tech in the bedroom. Again, we’re not here to tell you what to do. If that’s the case, you’re probably better off avoiding Smart Alarm Clock and sticking with your phone. Maybe, though, you’re looking for a secondary smart display. You might appreciate the pared-down simplicity of an old-school alarm clock with twenty-first-century smarts. If so, Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock will hit the spot. Not only can you ease into your day in a civilized fashion, but you can also get things started the right way once you’re awake. Being able to control other smart devices in your home from the comfort of your bed is also a valuable touch. Even though you'll need to make certain allowances and sacrifices, it's worth it if you view Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock as a dedicated tool for a specific purpose. If, however, you’re looking for a primary smart display for general use, we’d strongly suggest considering Echo Show 5 when it drops. There are other options, too. You could also roll with one of Lenovo’s larger smart displays but, as we stressed above, these devices are all meant to complement each other not compete. We always suggest you should personalize any buying decision when you’re looking for smart devices and appliances. That is very much the case with the Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock. Start with a clear sense of what you want from this device and what you’re prepared to do without. And remember one thing above all else…
To Buy or Not To Buy?
It’s a buyer’s market these days in the smart home space. The cut-throat competition between manufacturers is nothing but a good thing for you as the consumer. There’s no need to buy into any brand, ecosystem or product unless it serves you. And if you’re looking for a highly effective and uncluttered alarm clock with just the right amount of smarts, Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock is a home run.
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s glimpse at the new bedside beauty from Lenovo. Drop us a line any time here at Smart Home
and let us know what you think of the ever-evolving form of smart displays. We also have a forum
if you want to get more involved in discussing the smart home space. Remember to bookmark our blog and come back soon. We’ve got plenty more smart home news
up our sleeves over the coming weeks as always.