Product comparison - smart displays

2 minute read

I bought a Google Home Hub recently, and then followed that up with a 10” Lenovo Smart Display for the living room. Having lived with both, and bought a third device based upon my experiences, I thought I’d write up a little about them.

This isn’t a full review, there’s no shortage of those out there already, this is more of a look at which I prefer, and why.

Google Home Hub

I bought this first, while it was on sale, and put it on the desk in my home office. On a desk the display is ideally sized, and while the speaker won’t give my Sonos Play:1 anything to worry about, it’s better than the Home Mini that’s also in the office.

The display itself is very nice. You can tune the auto-brightness, the level at which it switches to a clock (or off), and more. Like the speaker though, it’s just a little under-sized.

The display stays active all the time when the light level is above the threshold you set in the configuration options. If you’ve got it display photos then you’ve got an always changing display. Obviously not ideal if you’ve got limited bandwidth, or a low bandwidth cap though.

Lenovo Smart Display

As I mentioned, the sound quality on the Home Hub is better than the Mini, but still not awesome. The Lenovo addresses this well, and 10” display is much better in the living room. Still not going to give the Sonos anything to worry about, but enough for casual listening.

Well, ok, the 10” display is better sized. The way that display is used though… that’s not so good.

The least of the annoyances is that despite being set for 24 hour clock, it forgets that and uses a 12 hour clock. Then there’s the aggressive timeout to the clock if you don’t walk in front of the display regularly. Oh, and you can’t tune the auto brightness, so it’s often too dull. Indeed, you can’t control the display settings at all, which was a big shock after the Home Hub. It’d not mind the timeout to the clock if I could control how quickly that happens.

The one bright side is that it does use less data that way, if you’re on a limited plan.

Interestingly, of the three displays I’ve got, this is the one that randomly goes unavailable in Home Assistant. I’ve no idea if that’s just plain bad luck, or an indicator of something else.

The third display

What did I buy for the third display? Well, no great surprise it went to the Home Hub. While the display is smaller, and the sound quality not as good, the usability of that display is leaps and bounds ahead of what Lenovo has. If Lenovo could fix the bugs, and make the display as configurable as the Home Hub, I’d be buying those instead, but there’s no sign of that happening, sadly.

And I do expect to buy more of the Home Hubs, to replace some of the Minis that I have. There are many places where a smart display would be more useful than a smart speaker, like in the bedroom where it also becomes a bedside clock. Maybe I can hope that Google will do a 10” version.