Lenovo announced a new Google Assistant-powered alarm clock, the Smart Clock Essential. It’s an update to the Lenovo Smart Clock, which the company released last year.
Several companies, including Lenovo itself, have developed touchscreen smart displays that incorporate video chatting, streaming, internet browsing, smart-home controls, and any other functions you can think of into one device. What set the Lenovo Smart Clock apart, though, was that it didn’t try to do everything — it was just very good at being an alarm clock. It offered a wide range of unique clock faces and ringtones, it suggested alarms based on your schedule, you could smack the top to snooze, and the display gradually got brighter 30 minutes before your wakeup time to ease you into the day. That’s it; it was just a fine clock.
The Smart Clock Essential looks to be following that same vein — it’s clearly a clock with Google Assistant, rather than a smart speaker or a smart display. But Lenovo intends for the Essential to function as more of a multipurpose clock, and has moved the focus away from the bedroom features.
“Building on the Lenovo Smart Clock for the bedroom, the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential extends the same hands-free, time-saving convenience to the rest of the home, offering full voice support with Google Assistant,” said Lenovo in a press release.
“The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential extends the same hands-free, time-saving convenience to the rest of the home.”
The screen is more traditional than its predecessor’s. It looks like an old-fashioned LED display, but there is some extra information: You’ll see the time, the day, the weather, and the temperature. It seems to lack the fancier touchscreen features that you’ll find on the Smart Clock.
There’s also a nightlight built into the back, which could be handy if you’re walking around your house at night, as well as a USB port for charging devices, and a 3W 1.5-inch speaker for playing tunes. The Smart Clock had the same size speaker, and it delivered surprisingly strong audio for such a small device. (If you have other Google Assistant and Chromecast speakers, you should be able to group them with the Clock Essential as well.)
And, of course, you can use the Clock Essential to do everything Google Assistant can do, including streaming playlists and podcasts, adding items to your shopping lists, making calls, and controlling compatible smart devices.
Design-wise, the Smart Clock Essential looks fairly similar to the Smart Clock, with a four-inch screen and a soft grey finish. Both devices have buttons on the top which you can use to set timers and control the speaker volume if you don’t feel like yelling at Google.
The Smart Clock Essential starts at $49.99 and should hit shelves sometime in September. That’s a drop from the Smart Clock, which starts at $79.99.
The new device won’t be the only voice-assistant clock on the market, but it will certainly be one of the more affordable ones. Lenovo’s lineup of larger smart displays is significantly more expensive, including a 7-incher for $99, an 8-incher for $149, and a 10-incher for $199.
Google’s Nest Hub, which has a seven-inch screen and functions as an entertainment hub loaded with YouTube and streaming services, is $89. Amazon’s Echo Show 5 is smaller and shaped more like the Smart Clock, but also costs $89. Even Amazon’s 2.5-inch touchscreen Echo Spot, which is the closest thing to a straight-up clock in the Echo lineup, is $129, though it’s frequently discounted. Budget shoppers could look at something like the $49 Google Nest Mini or $59 Echo Dot, but you won’t get a screen to display the time and other useful stats. In short: This could be a good device for its price, though we’ll have to see how well it works to know for sure.