The Lenovo Smart Display 7 is a beautiful Google Assistant-powered smart home “hub” that gets a lot of things right.
It boasts a compact, but ample screen; good privacy features; a front-facing speaker; and excellent microphone performance. But it’s a long way from perfect.
The biggest drawback is the audio performance. And, as with all smart home displays, its angle of operation is fixed. More on this below.
See also: Best Phone NZ 2020
Lenovo hardware; Google software
There are three dominant voice assistants out there. Google, Alexa and Siri. Out of the three, Google is the natural choice for third-party manufacturers to work with. So there are no surprises here.
In fact, Lenovo has been making smart displays with Google Assistant for a couple of years now – and Smart Display 7 is its latest attempt.
Is Google Assistant good? Yes! It’s the best voice assistant there is, drawing on Google’s vast library of user data that stretches back two decades.
The question I keep asking myself is what does Lonovo hardware bring to the table, that Google’s own hardware, er, doesn’t.
And I’m struggling to answer that question. The best I can come up with is that Lenovo’s smart home hardware is more affordable. Just.
As I said above, the Lenovo Smart Display 7 is a good-looking device. So there’s that. But the quality of this 1,024 x 600 SD resolution display is very average from a sharpness point of view. Videos and pictures are noticeably grainy when compared to the displays you’ll find on modern smartphones or iPads.
That said, the Lenovo Smart Display 7 does still perform will in bright rooms – meaning you can use this device in any room in your house and still see what’s on the screen, even when the sun is flooding in through the windows.
If only the sound quality had a redeeming feature. Sadly not. The sound is really tinny. And that’s a shame, as I think the warmth of sound that good smart home devices have, is a real plus point for the fledgeling industry.
Is NZD$229 an attractive price for the Lenovo Display 7? I’m not sure.
Yes, it’s not expensive as some of its rivals – but as a product, it’s not as good either.
The Google Nest Home Hub Max – with its superior hardware – is retailing for around $400 in here in New Zealand. The Lenovo Smart Display 7 is nearly half the price at $229.99.
But that’s a bit of an unfair comparison, the nearest competitor to this Lenovo is the ageing Google Nest Hub that launched back in 2018, with equally bad audio. And you can pick up a Google Nest Hub for $139.00 these days.
Is the Lenovo Smart Display 7 $80 better than the Google Nest Hub? Probably not.
Good news! You can cast video and audio to your Lenovo Smart Display 7. Well, you can cast YouTube, TVNZ and Spark Sport. But the services you really want – Netflix and Amazon Prime – won’t cast.
To be fair to Lenovo, Amazon’s Echo Show devices share the same frustrations with no support for Netflix. But that’s more understandable as Netflix is a direct rival to it’s Amazon Prime Video service, and tech companies often refuse to play nice.
The problem with fixed-angle devices…
Gah! Why are smart displays non-adjustable? I’m 6’2”, and my fiancée is 5’4”. It’s a problem here. And non a unique one.
Lenovo, Google, Amazon – any manufacturer that makes a smart home device with a screen and a camera – seem not to care about their display and camera angles. Why? I wish I knew.
And while the angle of the Lenovo Smart Display 7 isn’t a deal-breaking issue *most* of the time – it becomes a real pain when you try to use the camera for a video call. Forcing you to perform the needlessly-difficult task of aligning your face, and your torso or forehead, with the camera.
I positioned the Lenovo Smart Display 7 in my kitchen – a like-for-like swap with an Echo Show (a device that also suffers the fixed-angle design flaw). And when I have used the smart display for a video call, I’m forced to wedge something under the back of the device.
Lenovo Smart Display 7: Verdict
This device’s best quality is its looks. Woof! It’s a gorgeous looking product. Its next best feature is (excellent) Google Assistant support. After that, everything is rather average.
If you’re looking to equip your home, or another area of your home, with an affordable Google-powered smart home display that isn’t expensive – this is a good option. However, if you’re looking for a with good sound that you’ll enjoy using (for music and podcasts) in a busy area of your house – this isn’t it.