Lenovo dropped its new Smart Clock Essential, an update to the original Smart Clock but with a $30 drop in price. The clocks are shaped almost identically, and both have Google Assistant, Google's chirpy voice assistant, talking away from inside. So why would you want to buy one over the other?
Here's how both shape up on their own and side by side, to help you decide if one of these smart clocks is right for your home.
First, both the Smart Clock Essential and the Smart Clock are shaped nearly identically with a rounded, rectangular four-inch face and a funneled back that's covered in a gray, mesh cloth. They're both lightweight, have a charging and USB port in the back, along with a physical mute switch for turning off the microphones.
The two devices also have buttons to physically control settings like volume, play and pause.
But one key differentiator? The screen. On the Smart Clock Lenovo put a touchscreen display, one that has 10 different faces and operates by swiping and moving your finger across the surface. This isn't a display though — you're not going to watch video, and there isn't a way to hold a video call as the original Smart Clock does not have a camera, just like the Essential. So the screen is basically another way to engage with the clock, and offers some pretty options for clock faces.
The Smart Clock Essential tosses that touchscreen aside for a simple LED display — and if that sounds retro, it is in what we think is charming way. As such you can see very little beyond the basics: the time, the local temperature, a bit about the weather via icons, the day of the week — and whether the microphone is muted or not. That's a biggest piece of the $30 difference between the two, and one Lenovo believed was clearly worth jettisoning to make something closer to the $50 price tag the Essential carries.
There are also four physical buttons on the top of the Essential — two for volume, one that controls play and pause, and a fourth that you use to adjust the time and alarm.
The Smart Clock Essential has a nightlight on the backGearBrain
Think you're not anything fancy with the Smart Clock Essential? There you would be wrong. The clock, even as basic and simple as it appears, also has a nice feature: a nightlight. You can turn that on and off by holding the volume button down, or you can just ask Google Assistant to handle that too. Talking to Google's voice assistant also lets you increase and decrease the brightness of the light as well — and the brightness of the screen.
You don't get Sunrise, though — that's a feature specific to the screen on the original Smart Clock which gently brightens the screen, starting 30 minutes before your alarm. The original Smart Clock also lets you tap the top of the Essential to pause or snooze an alarm, and you can change the alarm sounds as well. As a bedside alarm clock, these are nice add-ons, and something to keep in mind as you're choosing.
The original Smart Clock also has a bit of an edge on sound, with a 6W 1.5-inch speaker with a dual passive radiator. The Essential has just a 3W 1.5 speaker and does not have a radiator. All of the means you're not going to replace a Sonos in your home, nor even a Nest Audio with either of these devices, but you get a bit of an edge in terms of maximum decibels with the original Smart Clock.
The original Lenovo Smart Clock has a touchscreenGearBrain
Both the Smart Clock and Smart Clock Essential fold equally into the Google Home ecosystem. Both work as Google Assistant speakers, and can draw on the same smart assistant abilities as long as you're logged into your Google account, and linked to the Google Home app. So in that regard — aside what the hardware can provide (a screen that can gently brighten before the alarm) — you have basically the same device.
But one key differentiator between the two? Price. You can pick up the new Smart Clock Essential for $49.95. The Smart Clock, the original, is still priced at $79.95, but we've seen that lower during different times of the year, and expect it will come down again this year.
The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is $49.95GearBrain
The Smart Clock Essential is a stripped-down, streamlined version of the original Smart Clock, a Google Assistant device that delivers fewer fireworks — no touchscreen, a less powerful speaker, and fewer features like Sunrise. But you're also paying $30 less and still getting a solid Google Assistant speaker — plus a retro LED clock that provides all the basics you really need to wake up, like an alarm and a snooze, as well as a device that can act as a timer in a kitchen or on a desk.
Both deliver Google Assistant, and both bring an extra USB charging port function as well. Then, ultimately, for those choosing between the two, it's a matter of deciding whether an extra $30 is worth spending for a touchscreen interface and a couple of features that enhance the alarm clock ability, but don't negate it.
Unboxing in less than 10 seconds Lenovo Smart Display 7 with Google Assistant www.youtube.com