Lenovo Debuts Streamlined Smart Clock Essential With Google Assistant
- Lenovo Smart Clock Essential updates Lenovo Smart Clock from last year
- Still uses Google Assistant
- Expands from bedroom focus to clock for any room
- No touchscreen and fewer features, but a little over half the price of Lenovo Smart Clock
Lenovo is bringing its smart clock concept to new rooms with the debut of the Smart Clock Essential, a slimmed-down follow-up to the Lenovo Smart Clock that debuted a little over a year ago. The Essential uses Google Assistant like its predecessor but doesn’t have a touchscreen. The $50 smart clock. $30 less than the one from last year, is more about adding Google Assistant to more rooms than replacing existing smart displays.
The Smart Clock Essential looks even less like a smart display than Lenovo’s earlier product. Lenovo highlighted the simplicity of its design and access to Google Assistant apps rather than the hardware’s flexibility. Notably, the clock looks not very different from the kind of LED clock you might see a decade or more ago, with buttons on the top to adjust volume and set timers. Only the USB port and a few other visible elements indicate it is basically a smart speaker with a clock display. For instance, the four-inch screen includes not just the time and day, but also the local weather and temperature. There’s a nightlight in the back by the USB port and a small speaker for playing music that is the same size as the original Lenovo Smart Clock. Using Google Assistant, the clock can link to other Google smart devices, letting it act like a Nest Mini smart speaker with less powerful speakers and more visual graphics. That said, it can’t display pictures from Google Photos like the original smart clock or show images from Google Assistant-powered cameras.
The best comparison to the Essential might be the new Smart Clock attachment for the Amazon Echo Flex. The Flex is a plug-in for adding Alexa to a new area, while the USB plug-in clock adds a visual display for the time. In a variation of Lenovo using Google Assistant, the clock for the Flex is built by ThirdReality as part of the “Made for Amazon” program. The modular nature of the Flex means the smart clock can be removed and replaced with something else, and the prices are even the same, as the Flex costs $25, and the clock plug-in costs $15. The Flex has a smaller speaker, but the basic idea of a voice assistant access point is the same for both devices. Amazon and Google both want people to be able to talk to their respective voice assistants from anywhere in their homes and are leveraging partnerships with third parties to make it happen.