As if humans weren’t lazy enough that they invented a single device to do all their activities!
Yes, we are talking about a mobile phone! But that was not enough, we have now managed to invent a device that helps you do those same regular day to day phone and physical activities without even having to actually hold the device. Just talk to the device like you would normally to a person and the biggest benefit of this is, you don’t have to be particularly nice and adhere to social norms! Just be loud and clear, let your voice do the magic!
The device here is known as a smart display because why not? In function, it is essentially what you get when you try to combine a smart speaker and a tablet. You can operate it without having to actually touch it, as in the case with a smart speaker and you can keep it switched on all day without having to worry about its disturbing others, like a tablet. Being a relatively new product in the market, it is a little unheard of, but in essence it is Alexa or google assistant with touch screen display with the potential to cause poor eyesight as well. Though sim assisted voice calling features are not available on smart displays yet the smart display prides itself to have good quality video calling functions through a plethora of apps like google duo, skype, etc.
The screen size ranges from 5 inches to 10 inches in general with availability of camera functions and like google assistant or Alexa, they too can be compatible with certain devices and can be voice controlled or controlled through a mobile app. This is an ideal device for those who are too busy or too lazy to walk up to a fan or tube- light to switch it on and prefer to request others, but are either short on favors or live alone. On a serious note, the new smart displays are ideal devices to connect and control other devices because of their ‘voice recognition’ and ‘voice command functions.’ Depending on company and type of device, there are some smart displays that come with pre- installed apps and you cannot download more, while some have wider functions and allow downloading of certain apps.
As of now there are limited companies offering to sell such devices, but with its variety of functions, it is safe to say that we may expect more companies to follow suit and help form a healthy competitive market for the product. In this article we will be considering 5 main products:
- Amazon Echo show
- Lenovo Smart display 7
- Google nest hub/ hub max
- Portal smart Facebook tablet
- JBL link view smart display
- Being an amazon product, the echo show provides compatibility with Alexa, your amazing virtual assistant and friend who helps you gain control of your smart house through simple voice commands and has a skillset constituting over 15,000 skills and counting.
- It comes with a 5MP front camera with in built adjustable shutter enabling your family and friends to have a clear view of you during video calls.
- With a sharp voice recognition ability, facilitated by its 2 microphones, the device can recognise commands in noisy environments.
- Video streaming and music streaming services are available on installed applications such as Netflix and spotify.
- Echo Show’s speakers show dual 2” premium drivers, a passive bass radiator, and Dolby processing to deliver high grade acoustics for music enthusiasts. Options to adjust the treble, mid, and bass levels using only voice commands are available, or we can also set up multi-room music to play music across compatible Echo devices throughout your home.
- It has a massive 10.1 HD inch screen
- It is extremely simple to set up
Our review: It is great product if you are comfortable using Alexa and have a smart home that responds to it. Audio and video quality are great and useful for small parties. The camera being 5MP, is placed somewhat oddly making the person have to stand while using hands free video calling feature. The echo show does much better than its other counterparts ‘Echo Show 5’ and ‘Echo show 8’ which have smaller screens 5inches and 8 inches respectively and a 1MP camera.
- Accommodates google assistant and its compatible devices for hands free, voice commanded use. Google assistant being a counterpart to Alexa also has multifunctional use and is preferred more by some customers due to its convenient use and compatibility with almost all widely used google apps.
- It has an appealing and accommodating design making it ideal for households.
- It has a forward firing speaker giving a huge boost to its acoustics
- the card-based interface of a Google Assistant smart display is a multitasker’s dream. It is superior in accessing and view recent controls giving it an edge over Alexa.
- Another significant feature of the Lenovo Smart Display 7 is its RGB light sensor, through which it can sense the brightness of the surroundings and adjust its own brightness accordingly. So its an ideal device if you plan to keep the smart display in contrast to bright light, for example close to windows during the day
- It comes with a 2 MP front facing camera which is better than the 1MP camera provided by ECHO show 5 or 8
- Our review: Since it lacks web browsing functions, has a poor audio system and its screen size is not appealing to all users, the Lenovo smart display seven receives tough competition from its other counterparts. Owing to the diverse functions of google assistant, it can still be considered in the game. Adding on to its benefits, its physical camera shutter and RGB sensor, it might be considered a great purchase during sales. Still, as we cannot download apps to the device, its functions become quite limited. Popular streaming channels like Netflix cannot be downloaded causing a disadvantage in its video streaming services, that being said Hotstar app users may cast their phones to the smart display and view content. Overall, it is not the best of the best, but it is ideal for people wanting just basic functions without distractions.
Purchase link – Lenovo Smart Displays
- Voice control feature available with google assistant
- Google assistant can control all other compatible devices, like lights, plugs, cameras, Tv etc.
- Netflix and you tube available preinstalled enabling a wide variety of content for streaming purposes.
- Provides personal settings for up to 6 members ensuring a family’s privacy and autonomy.
- Light weight- 480 grams only
- App installation feature is not available
- No front camera.
Our review: The usual information and smart home features are available, and while Google Assistant’s selection of supported home automation devices isn’t quite as massive as Alexa’s, it’s a bit better at dealing with natural language and less picky about grammar. Since all google displays are compatible with google cast you can stream media easily which if not possible could have been a deal breaker for many consumers as the device, like the Lenovo smart display 7 also lacks web browsing and app installing abilities. It has another variant called google nest hub max which has a 10 inch screen making it more appealing to some customers thereby bypassing any inconvenience that could have risen due to its screen size. It has a sleeker design than the Lenovo smart display making it more attractive. Not having a front camera is a big downside to the product but then again a more advanced googles hub nest max has a front camera enabling video calls using google duo.
Google nest Hub – Purchase link
- You can video call straight through facebook apps such as messenger and whatsapp.
- It has a great 10.1 inch screen size that is convenient for simple use by very young or elderly users.
- Supports only basic Alexa functions.
- It has a rear webcam resolution of 12 MP making it the best camera amongst all products discussed here.
- Battery needs to be bought separately from device.
- Our review: our honest review is that this is just a device with a fancy camera that’s sole important use is to make video calls. There have been some instances where customers have not been able to receive calls. The non- availability of a battery and having to purchase it separately is a huge deal- breaker for the product. Due to its limited functions, this device could be useful for elderly customers who only wish to Video call over long distances. They do not have to get confused with other functions and this is especially helpful if the customers in question are new to using digital devices. But by all accounts, apart from the camera, this device is not for the general public looking to use it for day to day general activities.
Facebook portal – Purchase Link
- JBL is arguably a gold standard In the speaker industry with beautiful acoustics. The link view smart display has followed suit.
- It comes with an in built google assistant and google nest which helps control your house and beautifully start your day with just voice commands.
- An 8inch HD touch screen that is just the right size! Not too small like the 7inch nor too space consuming like the 10inch displays.
- There is a 5 MP front facing camera with inbuilt shutter which is better than most of its other counter parts in the smart display category.
- One key feature is its water- resistance or splash proof hardware. This coupled with the thousands of recipes provided by google assistant make this smart display the ideal candidate for kitchen use. The sturdy build of the device only further enhances its kitchen use potential.
- Smart display only supports the English language which may limit its use in bilingual families.
- Absent web browser and app store
- No vertical orientation
- Easy to set up.
- On setting up, the device gives you a virtual tutorial about itself and how to make the best of it.
Our review: We would say that the JBL link view smart display is the ideal candidate for kitchen use. With its splash proof technology (can be used while washing dishes) , sturdy design (may withstand an unfortunate light fall) and amazing speakers which help you listen clearly even in noisy environment like one may expect in a busy kitchen, the link view tops off other contenders. What it achieves in hardware is slightly compromised by its first- generation software. The lack of app downloading and web browsing facilities may make it a deal breaker for some customers. That being said, its ability to make hands free video calls through google duo, presence of a number of pre- installed apps like you tube, Spotify, and other google apps still make it a desirable product. The chrome casting feature available in this product helps cast many other apps for audio or video streaming except Netflix. Due to its horizontal basic structure you cannot prop the device vertically, most of your Duo calls will consist of a vertical video have empty sides on the screen. There is a lack of uniformity in the abilities of google assistant across google compatible devices and because of this, functions of google assistant on the smart display are limited with respect to google nest hub max.
On overall assessment, we can conclude that the top contender is the ‘Amazon Echo Show’. Due to the sheer number of skills and functions that Alexa can perform; the device outperforms all others. This multifunctionality coupled with thoughtfully constructed hardware makes it the best deal in the market. After the enormous success of the Amazon smart speaker, it is safe to say that the Amazon Echo show is going to follow suit unless other companies invest more time and attention to this product category. For those who are not used to or are not comfortable with Alexa google nest hub Max is an ideal choice of product in this category. For homes that revolve around their kitchen, the JBL link view smart display is a contender that is hard to beat. The important point to note is that the competing companies specialise in other fields, for example Lenovo is more into laptop and smart phone manufacturing; Google and facebook rule the software world! It is not advisable to judge these companies solely on the basis of their products in the smart display category.
As of now, the smart displays have not come with a function that makes their use mandatory. It basically means, a smart display as of now does not have the capacity to replace a phone, laptop or TV. With technology getting more advanced by the day and humans getting more physically lazy, middle man products like smart displays have come into existence. That being said, we cannot critically determine the future of this product category because when competition will increase, so will the quality of the product! But in today’s world, a smart speaker seems to be able to do all the functions that a smart display does, apart from video calls for which much better devices currently exist. But for you techno savvy customers who go the extra mile, we whole heartedly recommend the ‘Amazon Echo Show’ or the ‘Google nest Hub max’! Aloha!