Amazon may have pioneered the smart-speaker movement, but Google isn't far behind. A year after Amazon debuted the first Echo, Google followed in its footsteps with the Home. The company copied Amazon yet again with the Home Mini, which is its version of the Echo Dot. Last year, Amazon revealed the Echo Show -- an smart speaker with a display. And, sure enough, earlier this year, Google announced that it, too, was getting into the smart-display category.
One year after enlisting the help of third-party manufacturers to get screen versions of Google Home into your life, Google has launched its own smart display, called Home Hub. Designed to be a smart home controller, it's equipped with a speaker for alarms and timers, and it comes with a screen so you can view the thousands of pictures you've stored in Google Photos. Another advantage of having a display: It can show you results and speak them to you, which -- in many scenarios -- is very useful. Just say "OK Google" to get Google Assistant's attention, followed by a command, and then control the results with your fingers on the screen. However, it's not the only smart display with built-in Google Assistant smarts -- let alone the only smart display.
Not sure if you should get a smart display or a tablet? We're not saying you should shell out mountains of money to get two devices, but you should think about picking up a hybrid like the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 at one low cost. The 2-in-1 features the usefulness of a premium smart display, but with the versatility of a tablet. Normally going for $249.99, the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 is powered with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant for up-to-the-minute news and weather updates that get displayed on its 10.1-inch full HD touchscreen. Its Smart Dock features two Dual Dolby Atmos-supported speakers that can extend audio to fill a room in smart display mode.
The second-generation Echo Show is better than the first in every respect, ranging from its industrial design to its audio and video performance. It's the best smart display today, but that could change as soon as tomorrow if Google announces its own smart display and it turns out to be great. Sonos, meanwhile, still has the best smart speakers for music (the Sonos One and the Sonos Beam). While the second-generation Echo Show is powered by the same system-on-chip as the first-generation Echo Show (a quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8350), the new model is outfitted with a larger, higher-resolution display; better loudspeakers; a more attractive enclosure; an integrated ZigBee smart home hub; and even the option for hardwired ethernet. Alexa is also becoming a better digital assistant, a development that will improve every Echo model.
It's coming out a year later, but Lenovo's Smart Display is clearly an answer to Amazon's Echo Show. Just like the Show, the Smart Display is a smart speaker -- powered by the Google Assistant instead of Amazon's Alexa of course -- with a touchscreen bolted on. SEE ALSO: Amazon's Fire TV Cube is a glimpse at Alexa-controlled entertainment, but it needs work It's also similarly pricey at $200 for the 8-inch display and $250 for the 10-inch version, which I've been using at home for just over a week. With a Google Home priced at $130, the big question on everyone's mind is: Is a touchscreen worth another $70-120? I wish there was a simple answer, but it all comes down to how much you value the information that gets displayed on the screen.