Thanks tolockdowns, voice assistants are . But relying on a voice-driven tool like a smart speaker can be frustrating, whether you’re hearing impaired or just trying to use Alexa without waking up the kiddos after bedtime. Enter smart displays, which bring all the smarts of the assistants, but add visual and tactile elements. If you want to video chat with friends during quarantine or check who’s ringing the doorbell, a display is perfect for you.
Smart Display Industry
The smart display industry has flourished in recent years, with theand the (formerly the Google Home Hub) at the forefront of the screen wars. It makes sense that there are almost a on the market: They’re a great combo made up of the always-listening voice assistant (like you’d find in a ) and a touchscreen for watching videos, controlling devices, adding things to your to-do lists and more. The even adds in that can display personalized bits of information whenever it recognizes you.
If you’re looking to upgrade your current smart speaker, or you’re just starting yourand you find the touchscreen appealing, here are the best smart displays available now. We’ll update this list periodically.
You can often find the Nest Hub (formerly called the Google Home Hub) on sale for $100 or less, making it an affordable entry point for the category. It’s also the smartest and best overall, making the lower price even more appealing.
Thanks to the built-in Google Assistant, the Nest Hub responds to all of the same voice commands as the Google Home Mini smart speaker. The touchscreen is a little small at 7 inches, but the adaptive brightness makes pictures look particularly great. Google will even customize a slideshow of family pics as your screensaver.
You can also control your smart home devices, like your smart doorbell, with an intuitively designed control panel. Unlike most of the other smart displays (and unlike its new big brother, the Nest Hub Max), the Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera, but that might be a bonus if you have privacy concerns and want to put it on your bedside table. The colorful fabric design allows the device to blend in anywhere, though the touchscreen comes in particularly handy if you want step-by-step help through a recipe in the kitchen.
With the Show 8, Amazon‘s Alexa will respond to your voice control and voice commands, plus you can use the screen to play games, browse recipes, watch movies and Prime Video trailers, control your smart home and more. The 8-inch screen is small enough to stay out of the way, but big enough that you won’t have to squint. It also includes a physical camera shutter for privacy.
In addition to the usual tricks, Amazon included its recent sunrise alarm feature, which helps ease you out of your sleep with a screen that starts getting brighter 15 minutes before your scheduled wake-up time. You can watch new how-to videos, or make a video call with a tap.
Google Assistant still makes better use of the touchscreen than Amazon — in particular, the cooking directions and smart home controls are better — but the Echo Show 8 is close enough if you’re already invested in Alexa, and it actually has a camera for video chatting, which the Nest Hub doesn’t. In short, the Show 8 is Amazon’s best smart display yet.
If you want a 10-inch touchscreen powered by Google Assistant, the Lenovo Smart Display looks elegant and features the same smarts as the Nest Hub. Lenovo actually offers three different models with 10, 8 and 7 inch screens. The 10-inch $250 smart display has a bamboo back that’s particularly well suited for the kitchen.
The Lenovo Smart Display was actually the first smart display to debut with Google Assistant built-in and it’s still one of the best. You still get Google’s smart-home control panels and recipe guides, plus the Lenovo display has a camera for video calls and a physical shutter to cover it if you want privacy.
Smart displays let Amazon, Facebook, Google show you answers to your questions
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Smart display comparison
|Best overall||Best Alexa display||Best full-sized display|
|Google Nest Hub||Amazon Echo Show 8||Lenovo Smart Display 10 inch/8 inch|
|Cost||$129 (£119, AU$199)||$100||$250|
|Screen Size||7-inch (177.8 mm)||8-inch (203.2 mm)||10.1-inch (256.5 mm)|
|Resolution||not listed||720p (1280 x 800)||1080p (1920 x 1200)|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||7.02×4.65×2.65 inches (178.5x118x67.3 mm)||7.9×5.4×3.9 inches (200.7×137.2×99.1 mm)||6.8×12.3×0.5 to 5.4 inches(173.87×311.37×12.5 to 136.02 mm)|
|Weight||1.1 lbs. (480 grams)||2.29 lbs. (1038 grams)||2.6 lbs. (1,200 grams)|
|Wireless Connectivity||Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth||Wi-Fi (802.11ac, 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth|
|Voice Assistant||Google Assistant||Alexa||Google Assistant|
|Calling and Messaging||Direct dial (US, UK, and Canada, outgoing calls only), video calls with Google Duo||Alexa Messaging, Skype, direct dial (US and Mexico)||Direct dial (US, UK, and Canada, outgoing calls only), video calls with Google Duo|
|Smart kitchen features||Step-by-step recipe assistance with YouTube tutorial videos||Food Network GO; Step-by-step recipe assistance; Amazon Meal Kits integration||Step-by-step recipe assistance with YouTube tutorial videos|
|On-screen smart home controls||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Built-in Camera||No||Yes (1MP)||Yes (5MP)|
|Microphones||2-mic array||2-mic array||4-mic array (2 front, 2 rear)|
|Speakers||Full range speaker (80 dB SPL @ 1KHz, @ 1m)||2x full range 2-inch 10W speakers||1.75-/2-inch 10W full range speaker, 2x passive tweeters|
|Streaming Music Services||iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music||Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn||iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music|
|Streaming Video Services||YouTube, YouTube TV, Google Play Movies, CBS All Access, HBO Now||Amazon Prime Video, NBC, Vevo||YouTube, YouTube TV, Google Play Movies, CBS All Access, HBO Now|
|Compatible smart home cameras||D-Link, EZVIZ, Nest Cam, Netgear Arlo, Skybell Video Doorbell, Smartcam, Swann, TP-Kasa Cam, Vivitar||Amazon Cloud Cam, Amcrest, August Doorbell Cam, Blink, Canary, D-Link, EZVIZ, Logitech Circle, meShare, Nest Cam, Netgear Arlo, Ring Video Doorbell, Toucan, TP-Kasa Cam, Wyze Cam, Zmodo||D-Link, EZVIZ, Nest Cam, Netgear Arlo, Skybell Video Doorbell, Smartcam, Swann, TP-Kasa Cam, Vivitar|
|Other notable features||Ambient EQ automatic adaptive screen brightness; Digital picture frame via Google Photos with Live Albums; Live TV with YouTube TV; Send directions to your phone or chosen recipes from your phone to the display; Digital Wellbeing mode for parental restrictions and downtime hours||Sunrise alarms. Customizable clock faces. Customizable alarm tones. YouTube access via Silk or Firefox browsers||Live TV with YouTube TV; Send directions to your phone or chosen recipes from your phone to the display; Digital Wellbeing mode for parental restrictions and downtime hours|
|Color options||Charcoal, Aqua, Chalk, Sand||Charcoal, Sandstone||Bamboo|
|Availability||US, UK, Australia and 12 others||US, UK, Australia and 7 others||US only|
|Expected ship date||Available now||Available now||Available now|
: At $229, the Nest Hub Max ups the Google Assistant’s screen size from 7 to 10 inches and offers better sound quality than before. The real story, however, is the addition of a sophisticated camera that can track movements and gestures, or identify faces to show you personalized info on the screen. It’s an impressive combination of hardware and software, but it comes with . For most people, we think the original, camera-free Nest Hub is a lot closer to the smart display sweet spot.
: The Echo Show 5 is the cheapest of Amazon’s displays, and it features most of the perks of the Show 8. Its resolution is lower than the Show 8 and its screen is smaller. While it features a tap-to-snooze alarm feature that makes it perfect for a bedside alarm, its sound quality isn’t close compared to its bigger siblings.
: The original Echo Show helped popularize the smart display back in 2017 and the current second-gen Show improved on it in every way with better design, sound quality and a more useful screen. It’s a good premium counterpart to the attractive $90 entry point of the Echo Show 5. The second-gen Show has great sound quality and a 10-inch screen. The touchscreen just isn’t as useful as similar models with Google Assistant.
: This $50 smart alarm trims out a lot of the functionality of smart displays. There’s no camera and you can’t watch videos. You can customize alarms and scroll through screens with weather and commute info. Thanks to a recent update, you can also look at personal pics and the Smart Clock will scroll through selected albums from Google Photos as your screensaver. It’s cute and tailored for your nightstand, but it’s more of an upgraded alarm clock than a full smart display.