May 20 , 2020
If you’ve ever wished your Echo Dot or Google Mini had a screen, a smart display might be a worthwhile investment for you. These internet-connected devices pair the functionality of digital assistants like Amazon Alexa with a tablet-like screen, allowing you to quickly access all sorts of information via voice commands and control your smart home from one central hub.
There are lots of these products available, and the best smart display for you depends on how you plan to use it. You’ll want to consider things like its operating system, compatibility with other devices, privacy features and screen quality to find the best option for your home.
One of the best all-around smart displays is the Google Next Hub Max, which costs $229. Powered by Google Assistant, this smart gadget has a 10-inch, high-definition screen, powerful built-in speakers with a three-inch woofer, plus a built-in Nest camera. It even offers Face Match, a feature that recognizes your entire household and displays relevant notifications like video messages and upcoming events.
As you might suspect, the Google Nest Hub Max can control devices from the brand, such as Nest cameras, thermostats and security products. But it’s also compatible with off-brand smart gadgets made by Sony, Philips Hue, Wemo, August and many more.
Want to test the waters before splurging on a high-end smart display? The Echo Show 5 is a deal at $60, offering the functionality of Amazon Alexa in a compact 5-1/2 inch screen. Using voice commands, this device can make to-do lists, retrieve weather and traffic updates and make video calls to other Amazon smart displays. The Echo Show 5 also features a built-in camera shutter for privacy.
Best for Kitchen
Many people use smart displays in their kitchen. One of the best options for this room is the full-size Echo Show, which retails for $229. With an easy-to-read 10-1/10 inch high-definition screen, it can showcase recipes from sites like Food Network Kitchen, set timers and alarms and even add items to your household shopping list. It offers hands-free calling via Skype. You can also use it to control smart devices from popular brands like Arlo, Sonos and more.
“This is a great kitchen companion,” writes one Amazon reviewer. “The screen is large enough to view from across the room. Before adding an ingredient to a dish, you can confirm the measurement without walking away from the stove, bowl, mixer, etc.”
Best for Bedroom
The Lenovo Smart Clock is a small smart display designed for the bedroom. While it features limited functionality compared to other products, its four-inch screen can show you the weather, news or traffic. This device is equipped with Google Assistant to answer all your voice commands, and it even includes a USB port to charge your phone or other electronics. This compact smart display only costs $60 and it doesn’t have a camera, so you don’t need to worry about privacy issues.
Best for Video Chat
If your main motivation for purchasing a smart display is video chatting with friends and family, you’ll definitely want to consider the Facebook Portal Plus, which costs $280. This product was designed with video calls in mind, and it has a 15-6/10 inch screen that can be used in portrait or landscape orientation. You can video chat with up to six people via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, and its smart camera automatically tracks your movement and adjusts the screen to ensure you’re always in-frame.
“The Facebook Portal+ display and AI camera technology far exceeds that of any other device I’ve used,” writes a verified Amazon buyer. “You no longer need to employ being your own camera man during the call — it’s completely hands-free and smoothly follows you around the room like a movie director”
Best Display Quality
Screen quality is the primary feature of the Lenovo Smart Display 10, which costs $150. It boasts a 10-1/10 inch high-definition screen with 920×1200 resolution, providing a crystal-clear picture in portrait or landscape orientation. Whether you want to make video calls via Google Duo, follow along with a recipe or view your family’s schedule, Google Assistant will help you accomplish it all. And the Lenovo Smart Display, with dual-array microphones and a 10W full-range speaker, is ideal for playing music.