Lenovo Smart Clock tasks Google Assistant with waking you u…


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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

By far my favorite feature of the Lenovo Smart Clock is a touch sensor that allows you to hit it when you’re annoyed that it’s time to wake up. Whack the top once to snooze your alarm or twice to turn it off entirely. Even better, when you do finally dismiss the alarm, it can trigger your “Good Morning” routine through Google Assistant and turn on your lights, tell you about your day and play the news.

I got the chance to play with the petite smart clock at CES, and thanks to Google Assistant, it doesn’t lack for other features. In fact, it will respond to all of the same voice commands you can give to a Google Home or a Google Home Mini. You can play music, search the web, control smart home devices and more just by asking. You can even group your Smart Clock with other Google smart speakers for synced playback. The Smart Clock is one of several high-profile announcements Google is making at CES 2019

The smart clock has a 4-inch touchscreen, which is tailored to show info relevant to your day. You can set alarms, check your calendar, check the weather and even check traffic on your way to work by swiping over on the display. You can use it to check the feed from a Google-compatible smart camera like the Nest Cam, too. If you play music, it will show what song you’re playing, but that’s it. The Lenovo Smart Clock is only designed to show you the info you need when you’re going to sleep or waking up.

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A category of its own

Representatives from Lenovo and Google were both clear that they view this as a new category of device, separate from a full-sized smart display. Indeed, while I thought at first that it would just be a shrunk-down version of Lenovo’s own Smart Display, and while it’s similarly built with Android Things — Google’s trimmed down operating system meant for smart home gadgets — the Smart Clock’s screen is much more streamlined, designed specifically to fit on your nightstand.

Unlike smart displays, the Smart Clock won’t be able to play videos, display pictures, show you the steps of a recipe or pull up a smart home control screen. It also doesn’t have a camera. By contrast, Amazon has a similar smart alarm clock with a display called the Echo Spot, but it does have a camera and is much more like a miniaturized version of a smart display.

Wake up time

While the Lenovo Smart Clock does lack some of the features of smart displays, the clock functionality is more robust. It will suggest alarms based on your first meeting time the next day. You can quickly see upcoming alarms and times. The clock is the only option for an ambient screen (smart displays can scroll through pictures or artwork), but you can pick from a variety of clock faces.

30 minutes before an alarm, the screen on the Smart Clock will gradually begin to brighten in an attempt to gently wake you up. Once the alarm does go off, you can snooze it or dismiss it with a voice command. You’ll see buttons with both options on the screen, or you can whack it.

Whichever option you pick, once you dismiss your alarm, Google Assistant can start your “Good Morning” routine. Routines are customizable grouped commands within Google Assistant that allow you to control multiple smart home devices at once. They can also play music, a podcast or the news. You can pick which words trigger routines and they should work with any device you own that has Google Assistant equipped.

Triggering a routine with an alarm is new. Google announced the feature late last year, and it’s expected to roll out to all Google Assistant devices by the time the Smart Clock launches this spring.

So while the gradually brightening clock face, the suggested alarm times and the routine triggers are cool new features that should roll out with the Lenovo Smart Clock, expect to see them all on Google’s smart displays like the Google Home Hub and the Lenovo Smart Display around the same time.

Trimmed size, trimmed price

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The Smart Clock shows simple messages that it deems important to your day. 


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Lenovo Smart Clock is smaller than every smart display we’ve tested — the Lenovo Smart Display comes with an 8- or 10-inch screen and the Google Home Hub has a 7-inch screen. It also doesn’t have as many features, but it’s petite and cute with a simple fabric base, volume buttons and a USB port on the back for charging your phone while you sleep.

It’s also more affordable. The Lenovo Smart Clock will go on sale this spring for $80, as opposed to $250 for the 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display and $150 for the Google Home Hub. Given that the Google Home Mini smart speaker costs $50, it looks properly priced as a middle child with a screen that’s useful, but not as robust as a smart display.

I don’t think the Lenovo Smart Clock will be as broadly appealing as a smart display, especially since the Google Home Hub already fits nicely on a night stand and in the kitchen. That said, if you want a smart alarm clock that’s great at waking you up and still allows you to vent your morning frustration, it could be pretty compelling. 

CES 2019: Every story so far: See all of CNET’s coverage of the year’s biggest tech show.

CES 2019 schedule: It’s six days of jam-packed events. Here’s what to expect.

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