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Review: Lenovo Smart Clock Essential – Wake Up Smart

This article will explain everything about Lenovo's latest smart clock model, Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, an alarm clock with an LED display

Lenovo presented the first in 2019 Lenovo Smart Clock. A smart display that had many similarities with the Google Nest Hub. A new model was introduced towards the end of 2020 presented, namely the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential. This model is more limited in terms of functions than the regular model, but also a bit cheaper. Now we can best describe this product as a smart alarm clock, even though you can of course place this device anywhere in the house. Can you wake up smart with this smart alarm clock from Lenovo? We figured it out.

What is it?

Actually, we can describe the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential in just one sentence. It is a smart speaker with Google Assistant, but with an LED display. The LED display is purely for reading the time. It’s not a touchscreen. You can see the outside temperature on the screen and whether it is sunny, rainy or cloudy, for example. So it is really just a traditional alarm clock with an LED display, but with a Google Assistant speaker built-in. Oh yes, let’s not forget the built-in night light.

The built-in Google Assistant makes it in fact a smart speaker, just like one Google Nest Mini. The smart alarm clock offers exactly the same options in terms of voice commands as other smart speakers. You can ask questions, request the weather forecast, operate your smart home and everything else you can do with a smart speaker. A simple ‘Hey Google’ shows the familiar four lights at the top of the display. This way you know that the Google Assistant is listening to your voice commands and you can start with your questions.

Design

I don’t know exactly what I expected when I opened the Lenovo Smart Clock box, but I didn’t expect it to be as small as the Lenovo Smart Clock actually is. That is not necessarily a negative point. It is a small and compact alarm clock with a 4-inch display. The dimensions (hxwxd) are 64 mm x 121 mm x 83 mm. The weight is 328 grams.

The rectangular display turns into a gray fabric on the sides. The housing converges at the back, making the back narrower. On top we find four physical buttons (volume down, volume up, play / pause and alarm) on the front and the Lenovo logo on the back. If we look at the back, we see the ring of the night light, a physical slider to turn off the microphone of the Google Assistant, a USB connection to charge devices such as your smartphone or smartwatch and the power connection.

At the bottom we find two feet to firmly place the smart alarm clock. There is nothing to criticize about the design. It is a well-built alarm clock with a luxurious look due to the gray fabric. The alarm clock is certainly not out of place in a modern interior.

Installation of the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential

The installation of the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is exactly like a Google Home / Nest Mini speaker. In the Google Home app, press the plus sign at the top left, choose ‘Set up device’ -> ‘New device’ -> Choose your home and the app will search. The smart alarm clock is found and you click through a few windows for Voice Match and the like. If you have already set this up with another Google Home speaker, you can skip this all. Installation is a breeze.

Setting the alarm

Of course you use an alarm clock to set an alarm. The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential offers two options for this. You can use the physical buttons on top of the device. However, this is quite cumbersome and without the manual it will be a problem for many people. You have to press and hold the physical alarm button for a while and then you can switch between the different categories with the alarm clock button. The volume buttons let you change the numbers. I do not recommend using this option. It works, but it is not a fast option.

The second option is to use the Google Assistant. And then preferably the English Google Assistant. Why you may wonder? The Dutch-speaking Google Assistant will not let you set a media alarm. So you cannot wake up to your favorite music via Spotify or your favorite radio station. You have to do it with the standard music. It is not annoying music to wake up to, but you would like to have some more options here.

If you use the English Google Assistant, you do have the option to set a media alarm with the command: “Hey Google, set media alarm in eight hours.” You will then be asked what should be played. In the Google Home app, we’ve already linked Spotify before, so then just call out your favorite band or song and you’re done. The alarm will now ring in eight hours with your favorite music.

We cannot blame Lenovo for the fact that the Dutch-speaking Google Assistant still cannot set media alarms. Here in the Netherlands, we are still lagging behind with the virtual assistant compared to the American and English version. Fortunately, you can easily set the Google Assistant to be bilingual. Open the Google Home app, click on your profile at the top right and choose ‘Settings for the Google Assistant’. In the next window, choose ‘Languages’. Probably only Dutch is set here. Then add English (United States) to this. Now you can use the Google Assistant bilingual. If you speak in Dutch, you will receive an answer in Dutch. If you speak in English, you will receive an English answer. So if you want to set a media alarm, use the English command above.

The sound

You can hear that the speaker is really tuned to voices. The voice of the Google Assistant is crisp and clear. Of course you can also play music, but you should not expect too much from this in such a small housing. The sound is just not up to the Google Nest Mini. It sounds just too depressed for that. You can compare it with the first generation of Google Home Minis. Not bad, but not suitable for use as a main speaker in the house. You can still turn the volume up nicely, but you will no longer be able to discover much layering in the music. Of course you can simply include this smart alarm clock in your created speaker group. The sound is fine for a bedroom to use as an alarm clock or as background music.

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential in use

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is, especially when you use the voice instead of the physical buttons, an excellent alarm clock to have at home. It has an Ambient Sensor, which automatically dims the display when it gets darker in the bedroom. You may read stories online that the display is way too bright. Indeed, this turned out to be a problem just after launch. However, this problem has been solved for a long time with an update. The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential now clearly shows the time where the brightness of the display is always perfectly matched to the environment.

A nice extra is the night light on the back of the smart alarm clock. You can turn it on or off by pressing and holding the volume down button or by using a voice command. You can also adjust the brightness of the night light by means of a voice command. So do you like to sleep with a small light on or do you want some light when you have to go to the toilet at night? Then this is a handy addition to the smart alarm clock. The night light also gradually turns on automatically when the alarm clock rings and when it is still dark in the house. If you set an alarm during the day and it is light, the night light will not turn on.

The manual also deserves a plus. In these modern times we often miss a physical manual and have to look online or find out for ourselves. The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential comes with an excellent manual including a Dutch explanation.

Due to the lack of a touchscreen, you have to do many actions or settings with your voice. For example, in the Google Home app you can change the time format from 12 hours to the 24 hours used in the Netherlands, but not much more. The brightness of the night light, a media alarm clock, the brightness of the display, you actually have to do everything with your voice. Once set up, it is of course ready, but you really need your smartphone and the Google Home app. It doesn’t work without it. This is something to keep in mind that the alarm clock is best operated by voice commands.

One downside is the price. During the launch, an asking price of 59.99 euros was used. At the moment, the asking price is 49.99 euros. That’s on the sturdy side. In the United States, the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is priced at $ 25. So we are more than twice as expensive here. However, Lenovo regularly has promotions and discount codes with which you can purchase this smart alarm clock for 30 euros or less. That’s a great price for this smart alarm clock.

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential – Conclusion

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is typically one of those devices you didn’t think you needed, but are still very happy you bought. It’s just an alarm clock with an LED display, but you can go in all directions thanks to the speaker and Google Assistant on board. Setting the alarm can be cumbersome, but once you have it, it is no problem. It is really an alarm clock that you have to operate with voice commands. If you don’t want that, this is not the alarm clock for you. Yet the positive predominates with this smart alarm clock. The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is a great product that would not look out of place in your smart home.

Pros

  • Alarm clock and Google speaker in one device
  • Wake up to your favorite music
  • Night light is an added value
  • Sound fine
Negatives

  • Physical buttons are cumbersome
  • Some settings can only be changed with your voice
  • Just a little too pricey without an offer

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