The best smart display you can buy

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Smart displays have evolved quite a bit since the launch of Amazon’s first Echo Show in 2017. In fact, the category didn’t really grow until Google entered the fray with the line. its own hardware about a year later. Now, both of these companies are essentially dominating the smart display landscape, with each offering its own smart assistant with the display.

It’s the display that makes smart displays so much more useful than smart speakers. For example, instead of just having a voice read back the current weather report, you can also view a five-day forecast. The same goes for when you ask about your shopping list or calendar; It’s simply easier to see your entire list or appointments for the day at a glance.

Plus, screens offer other benefits that speakers can’t, such as watching videos or checking your webcam to see who’s at your front door. They are especially handy in the kitchen, where you can use them for step-by-step cooking instructions. And, thanks to the touchscreen, you can often navigate through functions and settings a lot faster than using voice.

Amazon vs Google

The first question you should ask is whether you want to be in the Amazon or Google ecosystem. If you have a lot of Google products in your home, such as a Nest thermostat or a Nest cam, the model offered by Google makes more sense. If you have Amazon products, such as a Fire TV Stick or Ring cam, Amazon would obviously be a better choice. Of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to have products from competing companies in the same house, but just realize that they may not work seamlessly together.

Besides that, the two systems also offer some unique features. For example, Google works best if you have a Google account and use services like Calendar and Photos. In fact, we especially love Google’s smart displays because they work just as well as digital photo frames. You can set it up to automatically pull photos of friends and family from your Google Photos library, and the algorithm is smart enough to use what it thinks are the best photos – so it’s less likely blurred or your eyes closed, for example.

It might seem like a minor point, but since the display is on standby 90% of the time, its secondary function as a digital photo frame is much appreciated. All Google smart displays also support YouTube and YouTube TV, step-by-step cooking instructions, and all the usual Google Assistant benefits, like weather reports. Like with Assistant on your phone, it also has voice recognition, so only you can see your calendar appointments, not others.

Amazon’s smart display, on the other hand, is a bit different. Instead of YouTube, they offer several alternative video streaming options, including Amazon Prime, NBC, and Hulu. They also come with two browsers (Silk and Firefox), which you can use to search the web or watch YouTube videos – a handy enough workaround given the lack of a dedicated app.

Amazon devices also offer step-by-step cooking instructions thanks to partnerships with sources like SideChef and AllRecipes. In fact, cooking instructions sometimes include short videos. But while you can use Amazon’s display as a digital photo frame, the process isn’t quite as intuitive as Google’s, and Amazon doesn’t have anything comparable to its photo classification algorithm. Google.

The best smart display

Smart displays come in all shapes and sizes, and some are better suited to certain rooms in the home than others. So while we have a few picks around that are well-liked, we’ve also compiled a list of smart displays that are also well-suited to specific use cases.

Google’s best smart display: Google Nest Hub

Google Nest Hub

We at Engadget tend to prefer Google smart displays as most people have probably tried in the Google ecosystem due to the popularity of Google services like Gmail, Calendar, etc. tend to find the Google Assistant a bit smarter than Alexa, especially when it comes to displaying answers from the web. As mentioned earlier, we also really like the association with Google Photos and the smart photo classification algorithm.

Overall, our favorite smart display is Google’s newest Nest Hub. Its 7-inch size fits more rooms and the discreet design combined with a soft fabric exterior blends seamlessly with your existing home decor. It does everything we think most people would want in a smart display, such as YouTube videos, step-by-step cooking instructions, smart home control, and the ability to subscribe to a Nest cam if you want. yes.

In fact, the Nest Hub is especially useful if you have Nest Video Doorbell, as the camera view of who is at the front door will show up on the screen. The ambient light sensor detects the ambient light and color temperature and adjusts the display accordingly. Plus, if you choose, it can help track your sleep if placed next to your bed.

Another feature the Nest Hub is really missing: It doesn’t have a camera. That gives it that extra layer of privacy that many people covet, and it’s also a lot better suited for personal spaces like bedrooms. Sure, you can also cover the camera with the shutter, but with the Nest Hub, you don’t have to remember to do that.

Buy the Nest Hub at Walmart – $100

Second place: Google Nest Hub Max

Google Nest Hub Max

If you like Google but you don’t want a camera for video calls or you just prefer a bigger screen, consider Google Nest Hub Max. At 10 inches instead of 7 inches, it works a lot better for watching videos from YouTube and YouTube TV. It’s especially useful in the kitchen, where it acts as a sort of portable television and you can see those step-by-step cooking instructions at a glance. Bigger screen also means bigger picture frames, you might like.

As mentioned, the Nest Hub Max adds a camera to the mix. It doesn’t have a physical shutter, which is a concern, but you can turn it off with an electronic switch. You can use the camera for video calls with Google’s Duo service as well as the Zoom feature, and it can also act as a Nest Cam to help you keep an eye on your house while you’re away. Another benefit of the camera is the addition of Face Match facial recognition for authentication purposes, which we found to be a bit more accurate than just using Voice Match.

Last but not least, the Nest Hub Max’s camera adds a unique gesture feature that lets you play and pause media simply by raising your hand over the screen. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it’s potentially useful if you’re in a noisy environment and just want the music to stop without having to scream through everyone. Or perhaps you have messy hands while cooking and don’t want to get the screen dirty.

Buy the Nest Hub Max at Walmart – $170

Best Amazon Smart Display: Amazon Echo Show 8

Amazon Echo Show 8


Our favorite Amazon smart display is Echo Show 8 second generation. Its 8-inch screen is just right; it doesn’t take up as much space as the Echo Show 10, but it’s also more suitable for watching videos than the small one Echo Show 5. Like other Amazon smart displays, it has a built-in camera, but has a physical camera cover to help alleviate privacy concerns.

As such, the Echo Show 8 is an attractive choice if you want the option of using the smart display for video calls. Not only has the camera quality great, but the Show 8 also features auto-shaping of your face and tracking your movements during video calls. This is useful if you want to move around while having a conversation, or if you have mean kids and pets running around the house and you want to involve them in the conversation. You can use the Echo Show 8 to make calls between other Echo Show displays, or through Skype or Zoom.

Like other smart displays, the Echo Show 8 also acts as a digital photo frame and can be used to keep up with the news, check the weather, and control smart home devices. If you want to use your smart display to play music, we also really liked the sound quality of the Echo Show 8 due to its deep bass and rich tonality.

Buy Echo Show 8 at Amazon – $130

Runner-up: Amazon Echo Show 5

Amazon Echo Show 5 . Smart Speaker

Nicole Lee / Engadget

Only 5.5 inches wide, Echo Show 5 is one of the smallest smart displays on the market, and as such, would work well on a desk or nightstand. In fact, one of the reasons we like the Echo Show 5 so much is that it serves as an excellent smart alarm clock. It has an ambient light sensor that can automatically adjust the screen’s brightness; tap-to-snooze function so you can mark the top of it for a few minutes with your eyes closed; plus a sunrise alarm that slowly brightens the screen to wake you up gently.

The Echo Show 5 has a camera, which might make you nauseous if you’re a privacy-minded person – especially if this is supposed to be placed next to your bed. It does, however, have a physical camera cap, which should help alleviate any fears.

Buy Echo Show 5 at Amazon – $85

The best smartwatch

Lenovo Smart Watch

Perhaps the smart display doesn’t appeal to you because you’re not interested in watching videos on it. But maybe the idea of ​​a smarter alarm clock like the Echo Show 5 intrigues you. In that case, I recommend a 4-inch monitor Lenovo Smart Clock 2this is not an official smart display as you cannot play any video on it, but it uses Google smart screen technology, so you can use it to control smart home as well as checking out my Nest Cam.

We also like it because it doesn’t have a camera, which makes it perfect for your nightstand. It has all the features we want in a smart alarm clock, like an ambient light sensor, tap-to-snooze function, and a sunrise alarm. Plus, the latest version can double as a night light – you can swipe the screen down to turn it on – and you can get a optional wireless charging dock go with it.

If the Smart Clock 2 is too high-end for you, Lenovo offers an even simpler version called Essential smartwatch. It’s not really a smart display – it’s actually a smart speaker with a clock – but it performs many of the same functions as the Smart Watch 2.

Lenovo sells Smart Clock Essential in two different versions: One with Google Assistant, while the other powered by Alexa. Devices with Google Assistant have a built-in night light, an additional USB port for charging the device, and a microphone mute button. The Alexa-compatible one, on the other hand, has an optional docking station that can be used with accessories like a wireless charging dock or a ambient light base (it has a sea lion or squid pattern) that can act as a night light. .

Buy Lenovo Smart Clock 2 at Walmart – $70
Buy Lenovo Essential Smartwatch at Walmart – $33

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