Has your smartphone become a greasy, sauce-splattered feature of the kitchen counter? Do you want a more convenient way to view photos or control smart devices around your home? If you answered yes to both or either, you need a smart display.
Smart displays are part voice-assistant, part touchscreen. They are excellent for streaming music and video. They’ll also answer questions about the weather and summon recipes you can follow hands-free.
Choosing the Best Smart Display for You
With Amazon and Google at the forefront, the smart display industry has flourished in recent years. There are now dozens of smart displays on the market. Which smart display is best for you?
We’ve rounded up the best smart displays available to consumers right now in the list below.
Google Nest Hub Max
The newest iteration of the Google Nest Hub arrived in 2021 and it’s a fitting introduction for the category. That’s because Google Nest Hub Max is the smartest and best overall.
The Nest Hub Max responds to the same voice commands as the Google Home Mini smart speaker.
The touchscreen is 10 inches and the speakers are brilliant. Google will even customize a slideshow of family pics as your screensaver.
The camera allows you to make video calls over Google Duo and even Zoom. The same camera can also identify individual members of your household.
You should note that the Nest Hub Max’s facial recognition algorithms will show personal information for each person. You may want to get a privacy cover to block the camera when it’s not in use.
Lenovo Smart Clock
The Lenovo Smart Clock is one of the smallest smart displays on the market. But with its 4-inch screen, the Smart Clock can do almost anything a Google Assistant device can do.
The device’s clock functions are among its key features. The screen gets dim enough not to disturb you when you sleep. It will even suggest alarms based on your routines.
You can plug your phone into the extra USB port to charge it, as well. That reduces the number of wires dangling from your bedside table.
But the Lenovo Smart Clock’s diminutive size does mean it’s less useful in some ways. You’d have to lean in close to look at recipes or watch videos.
Amazon Echo Show 10
The third-generation Amazon Echo Show 10 has a 10.1-inch display positioned on a large speaker for better audio quality. But what makes this device unique is its base.
The Echo Show 10’s motorized base allows Alexa to spin the screen around so it is facing you. Its built-in camera and tracking algorithms keep the screen pointed in your direction when you’re using it.
More interestingly, the screen swivels and follows you as you walk around the room. That means you’ll stay in the frame while video-chatting or the screen will keep a recipe in view as you move about your kitchen.
You can video-chat using Skype. You can also make video calls with others who have an Echo Show or the Alexa app. But like Google’s smart displays, this device has no support for Facebook Messenger.
Amazon Echo Show 8
If you don’t need your Echo Show to monitor your movements, there is the second-generation Echo Show 8. The device features an 8-inch HD screen and improved sound quality over the original.
There’s a built-in web browser that will open via voice commands, say, “Alexa, open Firefox.” Or you can type a website URL on the on-screen keyboard and bookmark favorites.
Amazon’s step-by-step recipes rival those of Google’s displays. However, WIRED says they are still not as good as Google Assistant in this regard.
JBL Link View
In our opinion, JBL’s Link View offers great value for your money. This device, which is equipped with Google Assistant, has the best speakers of all the displays we tested. The sound is brilliant.
The 8-inch screen is ideal, too. The device is small enough so it doesn’t occupy too much space on your countertop.
But the screen size is perfect – big enough for crisp, clear Google Duo video chats or displaying photos.
The Link View has a built-in privacy cover over its webcam, too. This ensures no one is snooping on you. That said, this model.
That said, JBL first introduced this device to the market in 2018. That’s a bit old as far as today’s smart devices go. So, you may want to wait a bit and get in on sale soon.
Lenovo Smart Display
The Lenovo Smart Display is an excellent kitchen assistant with a sleek design and a high-resolution touchscreen. It multitasks well and responds quickly to both touch and voice commands.
The device does not sound as good as the Link View but its design is more kitchen-friendly. If you like to follow Google’s visual recipes in the kitchen, you’ll love this device.
You can prop up the 8- and 10-inch models vertically for Google Duo video calls or keep it widescreen, too. And, like the Link View, this device also has a privacy shutter so you can keep the camera covered.
There are now four versions of the Facebook Portal. There is an 8-inch mini version, a 10-inch version, and the big 15.6-inch Portal+.
Then there’s a Portal TV which turns your TV into a videophone. Facebook will take $50 off if you buy two devices at once.
The Portal rotates. The camera follows your movements much like that of the new Echo Show 10.
Facebook says that calls are encrypted and the camera can be disabled or blocked with the camera cover.
Outside of video chatting, Portal devices operate like the Echo Show. You can use Facebook or Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. You can use the Portal app from your phone or tablet, too.
If you don’t need a screen, a smart speaker offers all the convenience of an assistant. The key difference is that smart speakers sound a great deal better. Sonos recently updated the Sonos One with a faster processor and more memory, too.
The second-generation Sonos One has Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support. But the device only uses BLE as an option for setting up the speaker. The Sonos One does not feature Bluetooth audio streaming.
Like all other Sonos speakers, the One supports multi-room, whole-home music playback. Sonos has built the most robust and broadly supported proprietary multi-room music platform on the market.
The Sonos app works with more than 50 different streaming music services. These include Amazon Music, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, and Spotify.
A New Realm of Convenience
Of course, the question is, “Do you really need a smart display?” To answer that, you need to consider what these devices can do.
Smart displays can act as hubs for your smart home devices, like security cameras and bulbs. You can control everything with your voice, quickly calling up video feeds.
Because they’re made to be displayed, you don’t have to get an extra stand when viewing videos, too. This makes them a good deal less fussy and cumbersome than an iPad in this regard.
Ultimately, smart displays – like many other new technologies available to consumers – offer a new realm of convenience. That’s something more and more people are discovering they need in their homes.