Just over two years ago Lenovo introduced its 10-inch smart display to us at CES 2018. When we finally got a look at it in December of that year we loved it. A lot has changed since with other players entering the smart display market, including Google themselves.
Lenovo though have been keeping on, continuing to refine and expand their smart display offerings.
The company’s latest smart display is the Smart Display 7 and as you would expect it has a 7-inch display. Not only that but its style and design differs rather substantially from their previous offerings. As such it was well worth us taking a look at their new impression of a smart display and sharing our thoughts with you.
|Good looking — very Nest-like||Speakers lack bass|
|Front firing speakers||Proprietary cable|
|Relatively cheap price||Duo the only video chat option|
Ooh it’s so stylish
The Lenovo Smart Display 7 is totally different to the Smart Display 10 and the Smart Display 8 in that the speaker sits below the display rather than next to it. This could be a factor of the design being too long if next to a smaller display which I suspect, or it could just be a change of mind. Either way, the change is nice and allows the smart display to take up less bench space.
The speaker is covered with a grey fabric giving the device a very Nest-like appearance. The fabric is a nice touch, softening the device making it sit nicely in any decor. Lenovo has done a great job with the design of the device making it seem less harsh and less “clinical”.
The display is angled back a bit with a small wedge behind it, keeping the device compact and neat — keeping with the idea of the device being smaller. Being smaller you can place it virtually anywhere in your house without having to arrange too much for it to not look out of place.
What’s it packing on the inside (and outside)?
The 7-inch display is small but not too small. Sure it is difficult to see from across the room but if sitting next to you on a desk it is perfect. The 7-inch display packs a display resolution that on paper seems woefully inadequate but that 1,024 x 600 resolution on the IPS display might seem puny but on this display it looks great. You are not holding it 30cm from your face like you would a phone and it looks crisp and detailed.
Photos on it looked really good with decent colours and brightness. As for responsiveness it seemed good and responded to my actions as required. Now it is not packing a high end Snapdragon processor or any such thing and as such the response is not the same as you get from a high end smartphone. It wasn’t super fast but was still certainly adequate, as adequate as any other smart display that I have used. The viewing angle of the device was perfectly fine with photos being visible from nearly any angle.
The display packs a RGB sensor to adjust the tint of the display to match the lighting of the room. This seemed to work well without any issues and it is possibly the reason the display and images on it looked so good all the time. The warming and cooling of the colours made for a pleasant viewing experience.
The speakers are dual 1.5-inch 5-watt speakers covered by the grey cloth. the speakers were able to produce a very loud sound but as you’d expect from such small speakers they do lack bass. Hiphop music as such sounded a bit “tinny” with little depth to it. The sound was certainly good enough to listen to but it is certainly not Bose or high end speaker quality.
The top of the device houses a 2MP wide-angled camera for video calling — there is also a privacy shutter included by Lenovo that you can turn off the camera with to protect your privacy. The camera lens on the front of the display is actually covered over physically with an orange circle to denote the camera being inoperable.
The camera was clear enough but had some weird colour shifting happening. Whether that was the environment it was set up in or not I am not sure but the room is just like any old office. When using the device somewhere where there was more natural light such as the kitchen the camera did not have these weird issues.
The top of the device also has a switch to turn the microphone off as well for those who are privacy conscious. Next to it are the volume buttons so you can be sure Lenovo has included all the privacy buttons expected in new smart displays these days.
Speaking of the microphone, Lenovo has packed the Smart Display 7 with a dual array microphone which is able to hear my instructions from a long way away. It was as good as any other smart display I have tested.
What are its capabilities
The Lenovo Smart Display 7 has the same smart capabilities as other simple smart displays. My entire new house is controlled by Google Assistant (some Google Assistant devices, most with Z-wave Google assistant integration) and I could control it all via the Smart Display 7 via voice control or the onscreen controls. Swipe down from the top and you will see the onscreen Google Home control.
You can still pull up Google Assistant cards such as Google News, Maps, Podcasts and more. Swipe up from the bottom to bring up controls of the device including brightness, volume, DND, set or alter alarms and details on the connected Wi-Fi.
What more do you want from a smart display in 2020. Sure Google has a few more gimmicks in it’s larger offering but the basics are all in the Lenovo Smart Display 7. The issues it has are common to all Google Assistant smart displays — they cannot display web pages and Duo is the only option for video calling.
These are things Google will hopefully fix in the coming years but for now they are limitations.
The casting capabilities are as hit and miss as they are with all other smart displays. YouTube and YouTube music work brilliantly, as do music apps. Stan, Kayo and Google Play Movies work but unfortunately Netflix still fails, as does Amazon Prime Video. The casting feature is a great feature to easily be able to play exactly what you want because I’m sure most of you know how often the voice commands fail to find what you ask for. At one stage I asked the Smart Display 7 to play Ice Cube Lethal Injection album and it played some random,weird music I had never heard of, let alone asked for.
So should you buy it?
The Lenovo Smart Display 7 is a relatively cheap device and at $119 is great value for a smart display that is not just a great sophisticated design but a great smart display where the display is great quality and does everything you expect it to.
The only issues I had with it were the lack of bass in the sound when compared to a smart speaker (that so many smart displays also have — it is a display with an addition of a speaker — if you want a top quality speaker buy just that) and the colour shift with the camera in the un-naturally-lit room. Other than these two issues I found the Lenovo Smart Display 7 to be just what it should be and can highly recommend it.