Smart speakers are a convenient way to interact with your voice assistant, but they fall short when you need visuals. If you need to stream videos, participate in video chats, or want information at a glance, you’ll need a smart display.
Here are six of the best smart displays available today.
The largest of Amazon’s Alexa-powered smart displays is the Echo Show. The wide 10.1-inch touchscreen dominates the front of the device. It clearly displays Alexa’s responses to your questions and allows you to allows you to interact with the on-screen smart home controls easily. Above the display there is an array of microphones, so you won’t have to raise your voice to be heard. There’s also a 5MP camera for video calls.
The Echo Show has a relatively slim build and features a fabric exterior that goes well with any home decor. In addition, the device has physical buttons to tweak the volume and disable the microphone or camera. Unfortunately, the latter is a software-based solution and doesn’t actually block the camera with a physical shutter, unlike some other smart displays.
Further, the Echo Show has a set of 2-inch speakers with dual-neodymium drivers that produce a sound that’s both loud and clear. When idle, the Echo Show can act as a digital photo frame too. The Echo Show is also available in a more compact form factor.
For almost half the price, the Echo Show 5 has a 5.5-inch screen and a single speaker. The Echo Show 5 does have one upper hand over the Echo Show, though. It sports a dedicated light sensor. Therefore, the screen’s brightness can automatically adjust to the amount of light in the room.
Apart from the Echo Show, Amazon also produces the Echo Spot. Instead of a central dashboard to your smart home, the Amazon Echo Spot is meant to be a smarter bedside clock. However, that doesn’t mean the Echo Spot is lacking in features. It comes with all the same software smarts as the Echo Show.
The Amazon Echo Spot has an adorable, round 2.5-inch touchscreen and a software interface to match that circular design. Like the Echo Show, it includes a camera you can employ for video calls, and four microphones.
As you’d guess from its size, the Echo Spot features a much less powerful speaker, but since there’s a 3.5mm audio jack, you have the option to channel the audio output to external speakers.
The Nest Hub Max is Google’s take on the smart display. It lets you talk to the Google Assistant, view the replies on a screen, and manage Assistant-compatible appliances.
The Google Nest Hub Max has a clean exterior that puts a bright screen atop a fabric speaker base. It houses a 10-inch HD touchscreen, a 6.5MP camera, far-field microphones, and stereo speakers. In addition to video calls, the Nest Hub Max can function as a home security camera, and you can remotely check the camera’s live feed from your phone.
Plus, the device’s motion sensors support hand gestures. So for instance, you can wave your hand to pause the music playback. The Google Nest Hub Max’s kill switch also physically turns off the microphone and camera.
The Nest Hub Max has a more affordable sibling called the Nest Hub too. The Nest Hub has almost the same abilities except for a smaller 7-inch screen, entry-level speakers, and no camera.
The Lenovo Smart Display is a third-party Google Assistant smart display. While most of its specs are similar to the other devices, it does stand out in a couple of areas.
For starters, the Lenovo Smart Display has a sleeker bamboo back panel, unlike the fabric one found on the Google Nest Hub and Amazon Echo Show. On top of that, it has a massive sound grill on the front that accommodates two 10W speakers.
The Lenovo Smart Display has a 10-inch 1080p screen, dedicated keys for turning off the microphones and cameras, a 5MP wide camera, and four microphones. The Lenovo Smart Display has an 8-inch size option as well.
Audio accessory maker JBL’s Link View is for those who value sound over everything else. It flaunts two 51mm full-range drivers that deliver a high-end audio experience. JBL has even managed to cram in a small subwoofer.
Sandwiched between the two front speakers is an 8-inch HD touchscreen. What’s more, the JBL Link View boasts a 5MP camera which you can physically shutter too.
The JBL Link View’s weakest attribute is its design, which looks dull and archaic among its peers. Its price is also double that of other 7-inch or 8-inch smart displays.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 ships with a feature called Show Mode. When you dock the tablet, the Show Mode activates and turns it into essentially a cheaper Echo Show. You can talk to the Alexa voice assistant, use it as a digital photo frame, control your smart home appliances, and pretty much do all the things you would do on a regular smart display.
The downside to this setup is that you will have to rely on the hardware of an affordable tablet for smart display purposes. Therefore, the microphones won’t be as accurate, and the speaker quality will be average. The Amazon Fire HD 8 is also available in a 10-inch variant.
The Best Smart Display for Your Home
Smart displays are handy for a number of purposes. You can employ them as smarter bedside clocks, digital photo frames, dashboards for your smart home. For any of those uses, these smart displays are the best options available today.
To take full advantage of your smart display, you need an ecosystem of smart appliances. If you’re still trying to figure it all out, here’s how to build an effective and affordable smart home from scratch.