One of our favorite gadgets of 2019 was the Lenovo Smart Clock powered by Google. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a typical Google Smart display, but its wake-up features, affordable price and small form factor do more than make up for it. However, recently the company released an even simpler version of the device, which is rightfully called Lenovo Smart Clock Essential.
In essence, the claim to an intelligent display has completely disappeared; the LCD display has been replaced by a simple LED display. It’s really more of a Google-powered speaker with a clock. As a result, I do not like it as much as the original Lenovo Smart Clock, but it is also 30 affordable affordable and if all you really want is an alarm clock with a smart Google assistant, then the essence definitely fits the bill.
The Smart Clock Essential from Lenovo has a design language very similar to the original, with a trapezoidal shape and a gray fabric coating. But with a width of 4.76 inches at a height of 2.52 inches and a depth of 3.27 inches, the Essential is shorter and wider than its predecessor, with smoother edges and rounded corners. While the smart watch looked like a miniature smart display, the Essential smart watch really looks like an ordinary old digital alarm clock.
The big reason for this is the bright 4-inch LED screen with bold numbers that can be easily read in the room. In addition to the time, it also displays the day of the week and the current weather. If you have set an alarm, there will also be a small clock icon on the left side.
However, unlike the smart clock, there is no ambient light sensor that does not automatically attenuate or brighten depending on the environment. Instead, I need to adjust the brightness myself by being able to instruct it through a voice command. So, for example, I could say, “Hey Google, set the screen brightness to 50” and it will drop to 50% of its maximum brightness. It’s certainly not as practical as an ambient light sensor, but I didn’t think the LED numbers were too distracting; They are no brighter than the other digital alarm clocks I have used in the past. That said, I think it’s a problem that the only way to adjust the brightness is through voice control. I would have enjoyed a manual option.
At the top of the Smart Clock Essential there are volume controls as well as a play button and an alarm setup button. On the back is the mute switch of the microphone, as well as a USB-a port to charge your phone at night. There is also a built-in night light on the back, which you activate by holding down the volume button or using your voice (“Hey Google, turn on the night light”). By default, the night light emits a soft white light, but stays bright enough so I don’t have to stumble when I go to the bathroom. Just like the LED screen, you can adjust the brightness of the night light by asking Google to do so.
A short press of the above alarm setup button will display your existing alarm. If you have more than one set, tap the next one again (each alarm is indicated by a digit at the bottom right. Thus, the first alarm indicates “01”and the second alarm “02″, etc.).
The easiest way to set up an alarm on the Smart Clock Essential is through Google Assistant, but you can also do it manually by pressing and holding the alarm button. You can not only set the hour and minute, but also set the alarm for weekdays, weekends or individual days. You can navigate through the different categories using the volume buttons. To cancel an alarm, you must press the alarm button and then press the volume button, or simply tell Google Assistant to do so. Just like the previous smart watch, shouting “Stop” will trigger the alarm. Or, you can also choose to press the top of the smart watch to buy it repeat time.
The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential only has a 1.5-inch three-watt speaker, so I didn’t really expect much from the audio quality. But it was surprisingly loud, and I loved booming Spotify’s lizzo songs in the morning while I was in bed. The audio quality is about the same as the original smart clock. Of course, it’s not as heavy in bass or rich as the audio from the Nest Hub or Sonos One, but because of its size, I thought it would be good enough. I can pause the music by pressing the play button above or simply by voice command.
Of course, like most other smart speakers powered by Google, I can ask you for information like the weather, my upcoming appointments, my to-do list, and more. You can also use it to control smart home appliances such as Philips Hue lamps or Chromecast. It also works well with Google’s smart routines, such as a” good morning “routine or a” good night ” routine, which you can customize for a series of actions, such as turning off lights or lowering the temperature.