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Lenovo Smart Display 7 review: Not dethroning the Nest Hub any time soon

If you haven't already bought a smart display and you aren't skipping out over privacy concerns, you really should pick one up. They're a lot more than just a "digital photo frame," providing all the same utility as a smart speaker, plus piles of extra interaction from a touchscreen. But you might want to be careful about which smart display you buy. Lenovo's newest Smart Display 7 might have an attractive design, but it's got piles of little problems that might make the identically-priced (and often discounted) Nest Hub a better choice. Sadly, it doesn't quite live up to the high standards set by Lenovo's previous models, either.

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Lenovo unleashes Black Friday deals on Chromebooks, smart displays, and more

Black Friday is in full swing, and the industry's most prominent tech brands are unleashing plenty of deals for the taking. Following up on an entire portfolio of discounts that were announced right after Halloween, Lenovo has taken the wraps off even more Black Friday savings on some of its best Google-powered gadgets, including smart displays, Chromebooks, Android tablets, and more. Here are the highlights worth checking out:

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Amazon's mid-size Echo Show 8 smart display is now available for purchase

If you can't decide between the 10-inch and 5-inch Echo Shows, Amazon unveiled an 8-inch smart display at the end of September, which offers a good compromise thanks to its compact footprint and fair-sized display. The device is now available on the retailer's site, selling for $130.

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(Update: Official) Google Assistant Ambient Mode arrives on more phones, brings smart display features

When Google first introduced the Google Assistant Ambient Mode, it was initially limited to smart displays. Then at IFA 2019, Google introduced a version for portable devices, such as tablets and phones, turning them into something like a Google Nest Hub when they're docked or being charged. After being initially available for only a handful of tablets and phones, the Assistant ambient mode is starting to roll out to more phones. 

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Sling adds support for voice control and Google Assistant smart displays

Cutting the cord is a difficult decision, but Sling makes it easier. Its service offers live TV so there's no need to give up on football, your local stations, or the 24-hour news cycle. Sling has supported Chromecast for some time now, and today the company is adding voice control options as well as the ability to stream on your Google Assistant smart displays.

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Google smart displays finally start showing dates on slideshow photos

You might remember a decade ago when everyone wanted a digital photo frame, but those devices were all junk. In the era of smart displays, we finally have good digital photo frames powered by Google Photos that happen to do a lot of other things, too. The experience is getting a bit better today with the addition of dates in the photo slideshow. However, they only appear on some photos.

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Lenovo Smart Display 7 pre-orders start at $130, double the price of a Nest Hub

Back in September, Lenovo revealed an updated version of its Smart Display with a slightly-smaller 7-inch screen (8" and 10" models are already available). Now the new Google Assistant-powered display has gone on sale, but it seems to be exclusive to B&H Photo.

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Assistant on Smart Displays can now listen for and speak Italian

Until recently, you could only officially talk to Google Assistant on your Smart Display in nine languages. With the addition of Italian, we're now at ten.

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Spotify's Behind the Lyrics roll out to Google Nest Hubs and other Smart Displays

One of the major benefits of having a smart display instead of a speaker is seeing relevant controls and information on the screen. For music, that means album art, playback controls, videos if available, and most importantly, lyrics. On Google Assistant smart displays, only titles from Google Play Music showed lyrics, but that's now rolling out to Spotify as well.

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[Update: Fixed] Lenovo Smart Displays are stuck in an update loop

Lenovo's lineup of smart displays are some of the most popular Assistant-powered screens, but no product is perfect. Some owners are experiencing a bug that locks their smart displays in a loop while updating, but Google is already working on a fix.

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