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How to choose smart screen that suits you

Smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod are still a good form for most homes if you like to listen to music above all else. But some of the smart assistants who run them have found themselves in smart displays, a new form factor that brings some exciting changes.

Whether you're bound in Amazon or Google's ecosystem of apps, smart monitors give you the ability to do more hands-free than any smart speaker can. Boiled down, they are equipped to handle tasks that are usually reserved for your smartphone or tablet. In addition to listening to music, you can control your connected home tech, jump into a video call, or follow a recipe on the screen to name a few examples.

This smart device category is set to grow, with Android Things-driven alternatives coming from likes like LG, Sony, and JBL. But for now, we're focused on helping you decide between three alternatives: Amazon's Echo Show, the smaller Echo Spot and the Lenovo Smart Display of Google. And the good news? They are all pretty beautiful.

Amazon Echo Show
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

This rather unassuming smart screen has a seven-inch screen and is tied heavily with Amazon's services. If you have experience with the Echo speaker, Echo Show works in the same way with its long-field microphones and Alexa integration. But it's a bit more expressive, what about its touchscreen display. All and all information you request is displayed on the screen.

Despite this extra effort level, the echo setting requires very little from the user. There is no app store, and it is not necessary to switch around the home screen icons when you set it up. It simply sets out for your wishes, although it can entertain by playing movies and TV from Prime Video, video clips from its partners, such as CNN, as well as video chat.

The Echo show and the less, cheaper Echo Spot feature "Drop In" video call, which lets you jump into a video unannounced with a trusted contact. Before you get alerted, you must know that this must be enabled by both users, but it basically only allows a party to automatically open a communication line without synchronizing time and place. This feature works between all echo devices, fire tablets, and iOS and Android phone users who have the Alexa app installed.

If you want to boost your phone, Echo Show is definitely higher and better sound. We found out that it surpasses the echolites, but it's not as good as something like Sonos: One. This smart screen can play melodies from your phone via Bluetooth, but the Echo Show audio can not be routed through another audio source, as opposed to the Echo point with the 3.5mm connector.

Amazon Echo Spot
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Echo Spot $ 129 illuminates Alexa in its spherical design, giving the same skills as any Echo speaker. But, like the Echo Show, this model has a built-in display. It is only circular instead of a rectangle, and is much smaller and cheaper.

For approximately the same price as Show, you can get two Spots and gift one to a close friend of family member to keep in touch via the "Drop I" video chat feature described above. We have also seen more spots used in the same house as a means to quickly call someone in, such as an upstairs office to ask a question.

There are some special uses for a smart display of this size. In the kitchen it is ideal for setting timers and listening to music. For other rooms, it can handle alarm tasks without getting lost. While it's by no means a security camera, the "Drop In" feature lets you keep an eye on what's happening in another room.

It seems quite trivial about why someone will use Spot for entertainment purposes beyond listening to music or watching a short video clip. The circular display is quite small, but it is in jail for Prime Video and Amazon Channels. As for music, this little speaker's flow is below what some of the Echo speakers can put out, but it's definitely helped by its 3.5mm connector that can send to your current speaker system. Lenovo Smart Display

Lenovo Smart Display
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Lenovo's appealing Smart Display comes in two sizes: 8 inch or 10 inch, respectively, priced at $ 199 and $ 249, respectively. Smart Display looks like a digital picture frame, though it is obviously far smarter than one.

This model runs Android Things, Google's OS, which is built specifically for things of things devices. Like Amazon's smart monitors, this Lenovo model is likely to control most of the connected technology you have in your home.

Although Google's smart monitors are a bit short of groundbreaking features, there are some talk sets here that can be hard to live without choosing Amazon's Echo Show. First, a larger screen. If you want to read recipes while cooking, it will be a little easier on Lenovo monitors.

The second major feature? YouTube. It's invaluable that Google Assistant can provide YouTube videos as a solution to your question. You can share Google Maps locations from Smart Display to your phone as well. In such situations, strong links with Google services are rewarding. Although it is also one of this product's condemning facets if you're not so heavily invested and right now it's hard to play video from other sources, like Netflix or Hulu, on Smart Display.

In the case of video chat, Smart Display only supports Google Duo. Amazon's "Drop In" feature is certainly more unique than Google's implementation, but Lenovo's screen gets kudos in the personal ward to build in a hardware switch that covers the camera in front.

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