There is no shortage of devices with Google Assistant, and smart displays — like the Lenovo Smart Display and Google Nest Hub — have become quite popular. There's also quite a bit overlap between them, and the Assistant-powered Lenovo Smart Clock only muddies the waters more.
In this post, we'll be comparing the best Assistant smart display around with the first Assistant smart clock, and help you decide which is best for your needs.
The Nest Hub and Lenovo Smart Clock both have a screen, microphones, and a speaker, but that's where the design similarities end. Starting with the screen, the Smart Clock has a small 4-inch IPS display, while the Nest Hub has a larger 7-inch AMOLED screen. Both devices automatically change the display brightness depending on the room's light level, but the Nest Hub's screen definitely looks better.
On the back of both products, you get a power connector and a microphone mute switch. However, the Lenovo Smart Clock has an added bonus feature — a USB port. You can charge your phone, tablet, or other USB-powered device straight from the clock. That way, you won't need to take up another outlet with a charging adapter.
There are a few other differences worth mentioning. The clock has volume buttons on the top, but the Nest Hub has them on the back. Also, the clock has a sensor on the top for detecting when you tap it, and can either snooze or shut off an alarm.
I wouldn't fault you for thinking that the Smart Clock and Nest Hub do the same things — after all, they both have Google Assistant and a screen for displaying information. However, there are several major differences between the two when it comes to software features.
First, let's go over what they both can do. They both have Google Assistant, so they can answer general knowledge questions, stream music from services like Spotify and YouTube Music, control smart home devices, create reminders, set alarms, check your calendar, and more. Both devices also appear as Chromecast speakers on your home network, so you can stream audio (and video, in the case of the Nest Hub) to them from other devices.
Playing news briefings on the Smart Clock (left) and Nest Hub (right)
Most of the functionality that was introduced with Assistant smart displays is not present on the Smart Clock. The Nest Hub can show you visual steps for cooking recipes, play YouTube videos, stream YouTube TV, and bring up video news briefings. None of that works on the Lenovo Smart Clock.
Home View on the Smart Clock (left) and Google Nest Hub (right)
A few smart display features have been ported over to the Smart Clock, but with limitations. Instead of the 'Home View' panel that gives you access to every local smart device, the clock only has a toggle for lights (though you can still ask with voice commands to control other devices). You can't call people on Duo from the clock, but you can still place regular phone calls.
The ambient display on smart displays also isn't on the Smart Clock, so instead of being able to see images from your Google Photos library, you can only pick from a handful of clock faces. Many people love to use the Nest Hub as a digital photo frame, but you can't do that with the Lenovo Smart Clock.
Which should you buy?
Unless you really like the more compact Smart Clock, you should definitely get the Google Nest Hub. It has more features than the Lenovo Smart Clock, it has a much better screen, and it still functions as an alarm clock. The Nest Hub can be easily found for $100, and sometimes for as low as $70 or $80 — around the same price as the Lenovo Smart Clock.
Once the price of the Smart Clock starts to go on sale, it might be a more fair competition, but paying roughly the same price as the Nest Hub for significantly less functionality doesn't make sense in most situations.