People always say, “to see is to believe.” And this new tech is something you have to see to believe. Literally. With a smart display, not only can you hear any one of the best virtual assistants, but you can see them respond in real-time as well.
If this caught your eye, then you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of the best smart displays to get more efficient smart home devices.
What is a Smart Display?
A smart display is a smart home device that responds to your questions by telling and showing you information relevant to your query. It’s similar to a smart speaker, except that it has a touchscreen where you can see the information you need. These smart displays are currently compatible with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, which allows you to do voice commands. You can integrate it with other smart home devices, too, so you can control them through this.
With a smart display, you can view photos, watch videos, and play music with ease, making it a useful device. It can also show you the weather and even your calendar to let you know about your schedule for the day. Some would place it in their kitchen for quick referencing to a specific recipe. There are more features a smart display can offer, which may vary depending on the model.
Best Smart Display Devices
Now that you have an idea about what a smart display is, it’s time to know which models are popular right now. There are only a few trusted smart display devices you can see in the market, so it’s not challenging to pick the ideal smart screen. To help you decide which you should get, here are some overviews for the best models under this category.
The Google Nest Hub, formerly known as Google Home Hub, is a small smart display packed with a lot of useful features. It has a 7-inch screen, two microphones, a light sensor, and a new Ambient EQ feature. This measures the light of your room and matches it with the brightness and warmth of the screen display. It also has a button to adjust the volume and a switch to mute the microphone for when you’re going to have a private conversation.
Speaking of privacy, this smart display is something to consider since it does not have a built-in camera. You will not think of it as something that spies on you, which will give you peace of mind. The only downside of this is that you’re the only one who can see the person you’re calling when you do a video call; they won’t be able to see you. It is also worth noting that you can only use Google Duo for video calls, as it is Google’s app specifically for that function.
You can still do many things using this smart display like play music from Spotify or watch videos from YouTube. You can also search for recipes and have Google Assistant read you the directions out loud. There is also a Routines feature that will implement a number of grouped, customized commands with only a simple command. This device also now functions as a smart home control center since you can organize your smart home devices in its control panel. You can “view rooms” to see and even control the connected devices, making your life easier.
The Lenovo Smart Display is easy to set up and you can assign it to any room you set on the Google Home app. While this 10-inch smart display works in landscape mode, you can use it in portrait mode when video calling. Just like the Google Nest Hub, you can only use the app Google Duo for video calls. It can also call some of your contacts or businesses using voice commands.
There are more things it can do, though: it can play some music and show the time and current weather conditions. You can also customize the ambient display to show personal photos from your photo album or Facebook account. It is also perfect for your countertop as it can provide you the recipe you need and dictate the necessary steps out loud. With this smart display, you can also sync the smart devices connected to your Google account and control them with your voice. With this, you can see and talk to the person who rings your video doorbell or pull out the feed of your smart home security camera.
You can also program this smart display to do multiple tasks by grouping commands using the Routines feature. For example, it can turn the lights on, show you how the weather is, and tell you your appointments by saying “Hey Google, good morning.” If you don’t want to use your voice, you can also control your smart devices by making a few taps from the smart display. What makes the Lenovo Smart Display an excellent model is it allows you to switch your microphone and camera on or off. This is also a superb way to beef up your security.
From the company that started the smart display category, the Amazon Echo Show 8 does not disappoint. This features an 8-inch touchscreen with 1280 x 800 resolution as well as stereo speakers that produce impressive sound. This also has four microphones so it can hear voice commands but you can mute it using the Mic Mute button. There is also a built-in camera, making it possible to do video calls to other Echo devices and Alexa app users. If you want to make sure no one is watching you, there is also a built-in privacy shutter that lets you cover the lens.
The Amazon Echo Show 8 can do all the things an Echo speaker does, and it offers more features that make use of its display. It can provide you the weather and traffic reports, cycle through your schedule, and even show you news headlines when it’s idle. It can also walk you through a recipe by displaying the instructions step by step and have Alexa read it for you. You can also watch videos on Amazon Video and Hulu, but you will have a hard time accessing YouTube.
Echo show 8 can also play some songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and many more. It can also play music from your phone via Bluetooth or use the 3.5 mm port in the smart display to connect your phone. Another excellent feature of this is it can make calls to phone numbers in North America. You can use it for voice and video calls, too, thanks to Amazon’s Drop In chat functions.
As a smart display made by a company that manufactures audio equipment, JBL Link View’s stereo speakers do not disappoint. It can produce a clear and loud sound, making it a great option for those who highly consider the audio quality of a smart display. It also has an 8-inch screen with a 1280 x 800 resolution and a 5-megapixel camera that you can use for video calls. As for the microphones, they are also sensitive enough to hear you from another room, which makes the device convenient to use. If you’re worried about your privacy, its PrivacySwitch lets you enable and disable your camera and mute your microphone.
This smart display has an adaptive brightness that can go up or down depending on the ambient light in the room. If you turn off your room lights, a night clock would still appear, but you can still turn the screen display off completely using a voice command. It will display clock faces or a slideshow of snaps when it’s not in use, but you can customize it in the mobile app. You can showcase your photos from Google Photos or even from your Facebook and Flickr galleries as well.
You can use this smart display to watch videos on YouTube using only the sound of your voice. If you have smart speakers or other smart devices that listen to you, worry not because they would know which should respond. You can also play songs from YouTube Music but you can also pair it with your phone via Bluetooth. The JBL Link View is also a great cooking companion because aside from its ability to provide recipes, it’s also splash-resistant.
The Google Nest Hub Max is a smart display with a 10-inch screen and speakers that produce great sound quality. It also comes with a built-in Nest Cam, allowing you to monitor your home and watch the live feed on your phone. If you don’t want to use the camera, you can disable it using its switch, but it won’t physically cover the camera. The mentioned switch will also mute the microphone, but you can turn it on from the settings bar on the screen.
What makes this smart display unique is you can control it with gestures, making it easier to use. With this, you can pause or resume playback without touching anything as you only need to raise your hand near the camera. Another outstanding feature is its wide-angle lens that can pan, tilt, and zoom to keep you in the frame during Google Duo video calls. There is also a facial recognition feature that can show you your appointments and messages when it recognizes you.
The built-in Nest Cam can also detect motion and unusual noise which would trigger it to record clips. You should note, however, that this smart display’s security feature requires a Nest subscription. Fortunately, you can still watch the recorded videos within 24 hours and view the live feed without subscribing.
The 2nd Generation Amazon Echo Show is surely an upgrade, as it is sleeker and louder with 10W speakers. The improvements are hard to miss in terms of size, features, and interface. It has a 10-inch touchscreen with 1280 x 800 resolution and a 5-megapixel camera you can use for video calls. You can disable the camera and microphone with a press of a button so you wouldn’t have to worry about your privacy.
You can ask Alexa to show you weather reports and not only will you hear its response, but you will also see visual information on the screen. This smart display can also play tunes from Amazon Music and other supported streaming services like Spotify and TuneIn. If you want to watch videos, you can play Amazon Video content but only in 720p video resolution. This smart display can now also browse almost anything on the web using the Silk browser. With this, you can visit your social media sites and even play videos on YouTube, but not using voice commands.
This smart display also supports both voice and video calls to other Echo devices and Alexa app users, thanks to its Drop In services. You can also use Skype to reach more people. Alexa can also do direct phone calls in North America, but your smart display can’t receive one.
This Alexa-compatible smart display is not your common personal communication device as it seems to focus more on video calls. Setting it up is easy since all you need to do is plug it in, select your language, and connect to your Wi-Fi. It would also require your Facebook or WhatsApp account to make it work.
It features a 10-inch HD screen with a 13-megapixel camera and produces an excellent sound quality, thanks to its 10 watts of audio power. If you’re worried about your privacy, you can disable your microphone and camera using a switch or its integrated camera cover.
The Facebook Portal can display photos from your Instagram and Facebook account when it is in digital photo frame mode. It can show you photos of your favorite contacts on Messenger, too. Not only can you display their photos, but you can also call anyone from your contacts by asking Portal to do so. You can also do a group call, but there is a limitation with the number of people you can add to the call.
This smart display can also play music from many streaming services like Spotify, and you can also watch videos on Facebook Watch. It can also search for recipes, making it suitable for your countertop. What makes this unique is its Story Time mode that inserts effects and masks as you tell the story during video calls. Its Smart Camera can also pan and zoom as you move around to keep you in the frame, making it an exceptional device.
This 5-inch smart display fits perfectly wherever you place it, be it on your bedside, living area, or countertop. It has a built-in camera and microphones that you can disable using the physical shutter and mic mute button, respectively. It is easy to set up, as you would only need a Wi-Fi network and your Amazon account to do voice commands.
The Amazon Echo Show 5 would show the time and weather by default, but there are other things you can view on the screen. There is a panel that would show you the Alarms, Routines, Music, and many more that you can customize with just a few taps. If you want to use voice commands, you may do so by saying the wake word and your command. You can also give a series of related commands without having to say the wake word all the time, thanks to its Follow-up mode.
There are a lot of things you can do with this smart display such as play some music using only the sound of your voice. You can also play songs from your phone by pairing it with your smart display via Bluetooth. It’s also possible to make a phone call, but you can only call some North American numbers. You can also do voice and video calls with other Echo devices and Alexa app users using Amazon’s Drop In feature.
The Lenovo Smart Clock may be the smallest smart display on this list, but it is as capable as any other smart device out there. It has a 4-inch touchscreen with 480 x 800 resolution that displays the current time in different clock faces. It also has microphones you can mute, but it doesn’t have a built-in camera which privacy-concerned users would appreciate. This is more than your traditional alarm clock as it has a built-in Google Assistant that allows you to use voice commands.
You can set alarms, timers, and even reminders with your voice, making it a useful device. This can also suggest alarms depending on your calendar schedule for the next day. There’s also a Sunrise Alarm feature which brightens the screen display gradually 30 minutes before your set alarm. When the alarm starts, you can stop it by tapping the Lenovo Smart Clock or simply say “stop” since it listens to you.
You can ask it to play tunes from supported music streaming services, but some features are not available. This smart display cannot make calls, display pictures, and play videos. While this may be true, you can still use it to view the live feed of your connected smart home security camera.
What to Consider When Buying a Smart Display?
Before you buy a smart display, you must know what features to look for in a device so you won’t regret your purchase. To help you pick the one that suits you and your needs, here are the things you should consider.
We’ve often wondered if Alexa is always listening, so it’s only natural to worry about your privacy. When choosing which model to buy, you might want to go with the ones that allow you to mute the microphone. Some models also have a built-in camera, so you can also consider the ones that can disable it when it’s not in use.
Screen Size and Resolution
Another thing you should consider is the size of the screen and its resolution because these can affect the quality of the visuals. If you are going to use your smart display for video streaming or cooking, you might want to go with the ones with larger screens. Most often, those with larger screens can play videos in higher resolution, giving you a better viewing experience.
Although smart display devices focus more on the visuals, you should still put the audio quality into consideration. It should be loud enough for you to hear its response or diction of recipe instructions, for instance. Audio quality is also important when you want to use your smart display to play music or watch videos. If you already have some smart speakers at home or any wireless speakers you can connect this to, this won’t probably bother you.
A camera is a great additional feature as it would unlock more functions and would give you a better experience. If you are looking for a smart display that can let you do video calls, you should look for devices with a built-in camera. You should note, however, that there are only certain applications and devices you can use to do video calls. There are also smart display models that can function as a security camera to let you feel more secure.
Voice Assistant Support and Smart Home Integration
Picking a smart display also comes with choosing which virtual assistant you prefer. If you already built an ecosystem with either Amazon or Google, you should go with the one that supports what you already have. This way, you can have full control over multiple devices by using only the sound of your voice.
With that being said, you should also consider the compatibility of your smart display with other smart home devices. Although most are compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, there are still devices that don’t support one or both. If that’s the case, you cannot control your devices, say your smart light bulb or your video doorbell, if it’s not compatible with your smart display.
Another thing you should look for in a smart display is its Bluetooth connectivity. This can come in handy when you want your smart display to play music from your phone or tablet. It is important because there are limitations with the services that a smart display provides so pairing it with your phone can be your answer.
Smart Display vs Tablet
Aside from having a display screen, smart displays and tablets have a lot of things in common. Both these devices also allow you to play music and watch videos, but their primary functions differ from each other. In fact, Google even keeps their smart display devices keyboard-free so they would differ from a tablet. With this said, you cannot type in your Wi-Fi password which leaves you to use your mobile app to connect to the internet. Echo Shows have this, though, so you can do the setup process using the smart display’s screen.
Smart display devices do not run the same operating system as those on tablets. For instance, Google Nest Hub uses Android Things and Amazon Echo Show uses Fire OS. These are both Android-based operating systems, but they are meant for the Internet of Things. Unlike tablets, a smart display is not meant for games, social media, and internet browsing (except Facebook Portal). It serves as a virtual assistant that lets you control your smart home devices with the sound of your voice.
Is Having a Smart Display Worth It?
A smart display is indeed a significant addition to your home since you can have a voice assistant that can respond with visuals. Not only will it make your everyday life more convenient, but it will also maximize your other smart home devices’ features. It can serve as your smart home device control center, too, making it a vital piece in your home. You may want to opt for smart speakers since it’s more affordable, but it will not show you visual-heavy things.
With all the features it can offer, a smart display is worth having. With this, you can have a virtual assistant that would show, not just tell, and a digital display that you can customize in many ways. It is also an excellent cooking companion, as it can show and read the recipes you ask for, making it perfect for your countertop.