Lenovo first got into the smart clock biz last year, with the creatively named Lenovo Smart Clock. That device was essentially a tiny Google Assistant-powered smart display positioned as a clock replacement. It was a neat idea, but an introductory MSRP of $80 made it a tough sell. Lenovo is trying again this year with the Smart Clock Essential, a smaller, simpler, less expensive take on the same idea.

The front face of the Essential is home to a four-inch LED display that shows a large clock face along with the weather. It seems like the display is actually just a clock — don't expect to watch Hulu on this thing. It's also got a nightlight function, something the original lacked. The rest of the design is more or less the same as last year's Smart Clock: the device is wedge-shaped and wrapped in fabric, with buttons up top and a mute switch and USB port on the back.

Despite the simpler display, you can still interact with Google Assistant by voice to set alarms, play music and podcasts, and do just about anything else you're used to Assistant-powered speakers doing. If you live in the Google ecosystem and have been jealous of the Echo Dot that has a clock in it, this seems like a pretty good substitute.

The Smart Clock Essential will be available sometime next month for $49.99. Considering the original Smart Clock is still available and frequently discounted (it's also $50 right now), it doesn't seem like there's a ton of reason to pick the Essential — unless you're specifically after a simpler device, that is.

More or less available

Nearly on schedule, the Lenovo Smart Clock can now be purchased from Best Buy for $49.99. The product description reveals a few additional details, like how the clock has a built-in nightlight:

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is the ultimate smart clock for any room. With a big & bold display you can check out the time from across the room, whether in the kitchen, in the living room or on a shelf. Talk to Google for hands-free help. From checking the time & weather, setting timers for cooking, adding items to your shopping list or making hands-free calls, the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is here to help you be more productive and take back time. It’s also a great night-time companion with its built-in nightlight that provides a small source of light without waking up the whole family. No more stumbling around in the dark when searching for things. Listen to music, news, podcasts, and more with the clock’s quality speakers. Control over 40,000 compatible smart devices from over 5,000 brands. Ask Google to set the temperature, dim the lights, and more. Just say "Hey Google."

The clock is still listed as coming soon on Lenovo's own website, and B&H Photo is only taking pre-orders.

Really available now

While the Smart Clock Essential went on sale in a limited way last week, it's now really available for purchase. You can grab it from these retailers: