Lenovo Smart Clock Essential

"The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential will wake you up, but it's a snoozer that knows what else is out there."

  • Compact design

  • Shows the time clearly

  • Affordable price

  • USB port for charging devices

  • No way to set an alarm through the Google Home app

  • A firm tip is required to snooze

  • Not good for music playback

More than any other company besides Google itself, Lenovo has designed Smart Assistant devices with the Google Assistant. From smart displays to hybrid tablets, Lenovo has one of the more robust portfolios. While this isn't the first time the company has delved into the world of alarm clocks, the latest addition is the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, giving consumers even more choices about what to impress these prime properties about their beds. The sticker price of $ 50 seems like a home run, but it needs to stand out from others to make a better buy than the competition.

Bring back alarm clock

Today's smart home devices can be overwhelming at times, especially as Google's smart home ecosystem continues to evolve. What is evident here is Lenovo's intention to simplify the design of its smart alarm clock. Unlike its earlier efforts, this one doesn't have a touchscreen, but rather the LED design of traditional alarm clocks. With that in mind, the Smart Clock Essential has a bit of nostalgia.

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential takes up roughly the same space as the Google Nest Mini and is a suitable addition to any bedside table. Thanks to the large LEDs on the front, I can quickly see the time – and without straining my eyes if I suddenly wake up in the middle of the night. It's also great that the temperature and weather conditions are shown through icons. Around the top lip of the device are physical controls for volume and pause / play, as well as a button for manually setting alarms. If you're like me and have a charger nearby for your smartphone, you'll appreciate the fact that there is a full-size USB stick just for that purpose.

One could argue that its design is nothing more than a shrunken version of its sibling, the Smart Alarm Clock, but the Essential's use of LEDs instead of a touchscreen display makes it less distracting. It's simple, looks clean, and saves space.

All Google Assistant smarts

Interaction with Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is done through voice actions and commands through the Google Assistant. In this regard, it works like any other smart speaker or display. Compared to the Google Nest Mini, the Essential is definitely a better option when you consider the visual element it provides for showing the time, day of the week, temperature, and weather conditions. It's just more convenient than asking the Google Assistant for all of these details, for example.

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is a suitable addition to any bedside table.

There are two ways to set an alarm: you can tell the Google Assistant to set an alarm, or you can set an alarm manually in Essential. At a time when voice actions are faster, this method may seem archaic, but those who grew up with a real alarm clock will appreciate that bit of nostalgia. On a more modern note, I find it convenient that I can just respond with "stop" to turn off the alarm when it goes off.

But what if you need a little extra time to wake up? Then you can just say, "Hey Google, sleep for six minutes." You can also turn off an alarm by pressing any of the physical buttons other than the alarm button. You can also tap the top of the Essential to turn it off.

I really would have liked more controls in the Google Home app, such as the ability to set alarms. On the one hand, I understand that voice commands have become the preferred method for setting alarms, but it wouldn't hurt to give users the option to set one through the Google Home app.

Some minor quirks

Don't expect the sound quality to blow your mind, which is to be expected given the size. It is what you hear about the Google Nest Mini. For responses from the Google Assistant, the 3-watt speaker is enough to recognize it, but it lacks the robust tones and punch of other audio-centric smart speakers – like Google Nest Audio or Google Home.

I found some minor quirks with the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential that hopefully will be fixed with future software updates. For some reason, it can't compete with other Google Assistant speakers or displays in the same room. Whenever I ask him to turn the night light on or off, my Google Nest Hub responds with an error. However, if I mute the Nest Hub and say the command again, it works like a charm. Also, the snooze function doesn't work when I tap the top of the device.

Our opinion

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is a tough call. It's a touch of nostalgia, but it doesn't bring anything new to the (night) table.

How long it will take?

Since it will remain stationary, it is unlikely to break. It's sturdy and well built so I'm confident it will withstand a fall. There is a 1 year limited warranty that covers defects.

Is there a better alternative?

There are some products in Lenovo's own portfolio that are better alternatives. The logical suggestion is the $ 80 Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock, which has a touchscreen display that offers some “light” smart display features, such as: E.g. access to smart home controls (e.g. turning on lights) and live feeds from surveillance cameras. The Lenovo Smart Display 7 offers the best solution as it is a full featured smart display with a camera that costs $ 100.

Should you buy it?

Yes, mainly for cost reasons, when you don't need the added functionality of the other alternatives above.

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