Who says everything leaks before a major tech announcement? Overnight at CES 2019 Google and Lenovo pulled a surprise rabbit out of their hat, if the rabbit was a new Google Assistant device category, Smart Clocks.
Right off the bat, the Lenovo Smart Clock looks gorgeous; it’s clad in a very Google looking grey fabric, cementing it firmly in the ‘Home’ family of devices. It comes with a 4″ IPS LCD 480 x 800 touch screen display, 6W speaker, WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5 and runs on Android things, but not the same version that you’ll find on non-Google Smart Displays.
The touchscreen device includes two buttons on the top for Volume up and down, a mute switch on the back and a USB-A port for charging your phone and while it’s not clear we’re hoping that it’s at least a 2.1 Amp output. Unfortunately, it’s powered via a non-USB cable, making you reliant on their in-the-box cable for getting it powered. It also would have been nice to have a USB-C output on the back, but I guess that might limit the usability for some users.
From a UI perspective the device can operate exactly as any Google Home speaker can, with voice control, including multi-cast speaker groups and access to the Google Assistant verbal smart home controls and routines. The display gives you up to 10 interchangeable clock faces at launch and a ‘card’ based UI.
Currently the cards seem limited to a few functions, time / clock, setting alarms, what’s next on your Google Calendar, weather and commute updates. Yo ucan also ask the Smark Clock to show you your NEST cameras, which is pretty handy. Google has apparently said more ‘cards’ will be coming in the future. What’s not there is Google Photos to turn your clock into an ambient photo frame during the day, a camera for Duo video calls, Duo for voice calls and most importantly Google’s new Home View control centre for home automation control.
It’s understandable why the Google-Lenovo partnership decided not to include a camera for a bedroom focused product, and no Google Smart speaker has Duo as yet for voice calling, however I think not including Google Photos is a miss – my daughter LOVES looking at the photos on our Assistant Smart Displays. The lack of a Home View card however is perplexing, especially on a product they are pushing as a smart home control device.
Hopefully, additional cards / functionality will be added and perhaps Photos and Home View will roll out later. Having not seen nor used the product I don’t think we can label the features as missing as yet – clearly, Google intended on creating a product category between a smart speaker and a smart display. Time will tell how well it’s received.
We’ve contacted our friends at Lenovo Australia to see if they intend on bringing the device to Australia, considering we received both the 8″ and 10.1″ Lenovo Smart Display there’s a good chance we’ll see this device launched locally. It’s due to launch in the USA in their Spring with a retail price of $79.99 which would see it priced around the $120 AUD mark if / when it makes it here.
Is a Google Assistant powered Smart Clock something you would want gracing your bedside table? Let us know below.