Reviewed by Louise Totton
Everything is getting ‘smart’ these days – we no longer have phones, we have smart phones. You don’t have to attach your speakers to a music player anymore – smart speakers have taken care of that – we even have smart lightbulbs in our house that we can turn on and off via our Alexa or smartphone app! Smart watches have existed for a long time now, so it’s no great surprise that clocks have got in on the action! There are a number of smart screens on the market, but the Lenovo Smart Clock was the first one that I had seen that was designed just to be a clock!
I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t quite sure why I would need one of these – I have had my trusty LED alarm clock for approaching 10 years and I always thought that it does everything that I could ever want from a bedside clock – it tells me the time and it wakes me up! Having said that, we are big fans of tech and gadgets in our house, so we were happy to try it out!
I was initially a little surprised at just how small the Smart Clock was – the screen is a dinky 4”. Because phones are getting so much bigger, and I had also been considering the purchase of the Echo Show, I had somehow expected the clock to be a little bigger. Having said that, once it is sat on the bedside table, where space is somewhat limited, you realise that the size is probably just about right and if it were any bigger, it wouldn’t fit as easily.
It is small, but it is also perfectly formed! The device is covered in a light grey fabric material that also matches some of the other Google home accessories. It is an incredibly simple design – the only two buttons are volume control buttons and they sit almost invisibly on the top of the clock. It doesn’t have a battery, it is instead powered directly via the mains plug that is included in the box. The power port is situated on the back of the device alongside a mic muting switch and a USB power out port, so that you can still plug your phone in to charge, even if sockets are limited.
Setting up was really easy and is done via your smartphone. I have an Android phone with a Google account logged in, so the set up took all of my information and settings from this and it literally took 5 minutes to get up and running! Once the clock was logged in and synced to my Google account, all of my diary reminders and events were synced, so the clock would be able to remind me in the morning of any upcoming events for the day.
First and foremost, this is a clock – it isn’t a smart screen in the way that a tablet is, and most of its functionality is accessed through Google Assistant voice commands. The screen is touch screen, but it isn’t large enough to use for browsing the internet or watching a film, so this device won’t replace your tablet in those respects. It is compatible with Spotify (as long as you have an account), so you can access your full music library but will have to do so either by using your voice or your phone. None of this is an issue at all for me, but I had assumed that given as it had a touch screen, it would be used as an interface for the apps that it supports.
It does support an impressive array of apps – Spotify, Nest, Phillips Hue, YouTube Music, Deezer and a couple more. It has to be said that the range isn’t as impressive as the range that Amazon’s Alexa devices support, but again, it’s an alarm clock so they’re probably not needed! I did, however, find that the Google voice recognition to be much better than that of my Alexa – it understood me more, gave me more relevant answers and was much quicker to do so, and its recall of facts was quicker and more accurate too
What it does do, is to help you to manage and set up your day, your morning routine and your night time routine. If you have the correct smart devices in your home, when you tell it that it’s sleep time, it will dim the lights, lock the doors and play some relaxing music for you. If you are lucky enough to have a connected coffee machine, it will make your morning brew when you wake up, after waking you up slowly and naturally with a gradually increasing light!
The alarm sounds on it were a lot better than a lot of the alarm sounds on some clocks – I need to be woken slowly and gently in the morning and the Lenovo Smart Clock does exactly that! Of course, it can also wake you up with a bit more of a bang, if that’s your thing, but I can’t imagine anything worse! When it does wake you up, it will run through your daily events and routine with you, as well as checking the traffic information for your daily commute.
I think this is a brilliant little device – as long as you are expecting a clock rather than a fully-fledged tablet. There is no camera for video calling, which I personally like as I would feel quite uncomfortable with an internet connected camera in my bedroom! It is incredibly easy to use – because there aren’t thousands of features, the ones that it does have are easy to access, simple to use and work perfectly. You can see the weather either at the touch of a screen or just by asking and setting the alarm is an absolute doddle. In the morning, the alarm can be snoozed or turned off just by touching the screen, which is far easier than reaching for a specific button!
If you are technical enough to have a house full of connected gadgets and gizmos, this little clock would really come into its own. Even if you’re like me and don’t yet have many devices to connect to it, it’s still a super little clock, great fun to use and literally puts your daily schedule at your fingertips at the beginning of the day when you need it most.
For more information or to buy visit www.lenovo.com.