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Lenovo Smart Screen

Dave's Lenovo Smart Display

So you got yourself a Google Home Display? I did …

… and I'm not sorry I bought it. This won't be that much of a review, but an overview of what this can do.

First I want to write about how I came about this. I first got wind of the Lenovo Smart Screen back at one of the shows in January. Several were shown, but I knew that this was the one I wanted.

In June, an online seller jumped the gun and offered them for sale with the promise of a September 2018 ship date. It was offered at $20 off or $230 plus tax. I am a patient fellow, so I placed my order. By late August, I saw lots of others got theirs, but nothing for me! Also, hearing of an impending release of a smart screen by Google, I canceled my order.

Then I saw a post by someone on Reddit stating that another seller was offering these for $150. The seller was reputable, so I placed the order. I knew that these wouldn't last for long at that price for the 10 inch model. Perhaps they meant to offer the 8 inch model. I didn't hold my breath for delivery, but the seller came through!

Lenovo 8 inch smart display
8 inch Lenovo Smart Display in the kitchen

First looks

First, there are several makers of smart screens that operate on the Google Home platform. My descriptions on how my display works should be the same as the Google Nest Hub, and the JVC smart display. The look, feel and hear of the Lenovo should apply only to the Lenovo 10 inch screen.

The Lenovo Smart Screen is a nice looking device. I wasn't disappointed. I plugged it and set it up, sans instructions. Everything set up correctly. But it was missing features that the Nest Hub (formerly GHH) had. As of this morning (Halloween 2018), the update came. I can now continue with my review.

I set up my display in my whole house group where my other GH speakers reside.

The audio from the LSD (Lenovo Smart Display)is very robust. There isn't a bsss peak like the GH has. I didn't see a bass/treble adjustment in the app.

Speaking of the GH app, you'll recognize a lot of the settings that are available on the GH. There are also some screen specific settings available, such as the magnify screen, closed captioning and some experimental options.

The Lenovo Smart Display device contains the Google Android Things as the central part and allows functionally. It set up via the Google Home app. Like the other GH's, the adjustments are made in the Devices area.

Other built features include seeing what you say to the LSD. This is helpful if a command goes wrong. You can see what wasn't understood and perhaps speak a little different so the Google Home servers understand.

So what can you do with this display?

Get the time: When the LSD is idle, you can view some cool looking clocks. I like the flip card clock.

Look at your pictures: By using Google Photos, your display can turn in to a digital photo frame. Select the folder at Google where your photos are stored. And to think that I was going to buy one of these photo frames soon!

Cast from Computer: I just tried this with You Tube from my PC. It was slightly different than shipping audio throughout my Google Home kingdom. I started a video, clicked on the cast and picked the device to cast through. (While doing this, I found out that my Vizio tv next to me supported this too! Learning every day.)

Ask for the weather forecast: Kind of mundane with just the speaker, but with the speaker you see along with hearing. The daily forecast shows what you are in for if you venture outside.

Timer Display: Using the GH displays are great for monitoring timers you've set. There is a graphic display of the countdown, so you always know how much time is left.

See what tune is playing: Many of the music stations and music services put up a slide with the name of the song and artist, as well as some album art covers. It is nice to sit here and look who is performing the enjoyable music.

Adjust Your Stuff

Here is where everything starts to add up with these smart displays. That is, the presentation on the screen of the other smart devices look like the new Google Home App! I think they did this on purpose.

When you flick down from the top of the screen, there appears a read only version of the app home screen.

The lights and GH devices are all represented on the screen. But you can only change the state of your switches, and play audio on a device.

Any glitches?

Yep, there are always glitches.

Multi room audio distribution works pretty well unless trying to cast from my computer. The "whole house" cast sometimes doesn't make it to the LSD from my computer. I expect this will be taken care of soon.

I haven't noticed other glitches, but when I do, I'll list them here. I'm not trying to find fault with all my stuff, but it is handy to know so one can work around the difficulty if possible.

Hints & Tips

Unclutter Your Rooms: As I am getting used to the new screens in the app and Lenovo, I noticed that I had lots of icons. My living room had the most icons of all.

I also noticed that there were some lights and switches that I didn't want to group control. (refers back to my Boolean and Venn days) My tv bias light, while it is a light, is not used for general lighting. It is there to make my tv viewing nicer. When I say "all lights off" from my living room screen, I don't really mean my bias light too.

The simple solution is to name a new room and put the bias light in it. I made a room called Television room and put the bias light there. (I also moved my Roku there too.) I don't really have a room for my television, but Google doesn't know this (yet).

I picked the room name far down the alphabet so the "room" would show at the bottom of the list. I assigned my Humidifier switch from the living room to the "Wet room".

Google Nest Hub (formerly known as Google Home Hub, GHH)

Dave's Google Nest Hub placed in the office
Dave's Google Nest Hub in the office

I wasn't going to do it, but there was a great sale on the Google Nest Hub at the end of 2018, so this little device joins my Google Home Empire!

With all the reviews and commentary floating around, not to mention the You Tube reviews, I knew what I was getting in to. I did have a question on the smaller screen size, given my less than optimal vision, and the power consumption.

The screen is really excellent! My new Google Nest Hub now resides on my office desk, next to my computer screen. Once I am in focus, the screen is easy to read and the operation is easy. The nicest thing is this small unit fit on my very crowded desk.

This screen replaces the original Google Home speaker, which I've always thought has very good audio, even if it is a little bass heavy. The small speakers behind the Nest Hub aren't real wonderful. I would say they sound about as good as the Google Home Mini. The audio is clear and clean, which is important.

A couple months ago, I added my sound bar (with external Chromecast Audio dongle (discontinued product) connected via optical cable) to my whole house group. I'm presently using this speaker only with the Chromecast as the tv in the room isn't used very much.

Using the handy remote control, I leave the soundbar turned off. This is because the standby current would increase my electric bill by nearly $20 per year. So until I want to play some music, I just listen on the Nest Hub. But since I usually cast to my whole house group, I can turn on the soundbar at any time.

While speaking of power consumption, I did a measurement on the Nest Hub before installation. The power measurement came to just a tad over 3 watts. A watt less than the Lenovo Smart Display, and about a watt above the GH. That comes to a little over 26kWh. (At my current rates, that is $6 a year.)

I could have changed the default media speaker for the Nest Hub, but I found that clunky as the soundbar is off most of the time.

The ability for different configurations of the GH system is astonishing! I get to have it my way.

I think I could recommend this product to nearly everyone. I wonder if the audio would be robust enough for a senior to use this product. The next time my old friend is by, I'll see.

The retail price is $149, but it seems that $99 is the street price quite often. I paid $100 for mine, and it included two GH mini speakers. I don't have a use for them, but someone will want them someday.

I don't think I'll buy more smart displays as my home is filled with GH stuff. I thought of a smart display for my kitchen, mostly for timers, but the living room one can work by walking to it.

What is my Google Home Display future?

The future has happened. Presently, the LSD is in my living room, next to my tv chair. Then another in my kitchen and a Nest Hub in my office. My bathroom and bedroom still are audio only and are likely to stay that way.

Please bookmark my Google Home pages and stop by now and again. I'm doing regular updates as more are made and I learn more.