Lenovo Smart Assistant powered by Amazon Alexa (Another device not to buy!)
While much of the world raves about Amazon’s Echo, I’m not in love with it. Not to put too fine a point on it it’s about the most useless piece of tech I’ve ever purchased, unless that is you like a voice controlled moderately acceptable music device in your front room.
I’m sure there are some good points about Echo, or at least there will be one day when it can answer queries in the same way as Google, can check traffic on a route that isn’t the single route I’ve pre-programmed into Echo via an app and that can do shopping without telling me it can’t order Amazon Pantry items. In the mean time, bearing in mind the limitations of Echo, it came as somewhat of a surprise to see Lenovo design an device powered by the same Amazon Alexa technology known as the Lenovo Smart Assistant.
The one thing Lenovo have going for them is apparently a better speaker. You will be able to buy a bog standard Lenovo Smart Assistant $130 ($50 cheaper than Amazon’s version), or you can opt for one with Harman Kardon audio at $180 (same price as the Amazon Echo).
The one and only problem with trying to compete against the $150 Amazon Echo on sound quality is however the Amazon Dot. Dots come in at $50 and have a terrible speaker, but they do connect to any high quality speaker via Bluetooth or cable. That gives you a premium solution at a much lower cost than a Lenovo Smart Assistant.
If you like ‘pretty’ then you may prefer Lenovo Smart Assistant to Amazon Alexa for aesthetic appeal, that’s if you like the softer Google Home reminiscent pastel shades in preference to the start black or white of Amazon Alexa. In truth this isn’t a display device but something to sit in a corner as it’s far-field mikes are intended to pick up commands from anywhere in the room – The whole point of a voice controlled device is kind of predicated on the fact you don’t actually have to look at it.
Similar to the Amazon Echo App, Lenovo will have an Android and iOS app companion app available but it’s unclear if it’ll have the same functionality as the Amazon version. If Lenovo have any sense they’ll scale back the plethora of spam Skills on offer from Amazon developers and insist on serious skills only.
Should you buy a Lenovo Smart Assistant? Well they’re not out just yet and you’ll likely not see them until May this year. The good news is that Amazon Echo and Amazon Dot are both available in the UK but (unless you want a voice controlled music device) we don’t think they’re sophisticated enough to justify buying either.
My son works for a large web design company, and the techno geeks there have the Amazon Echo doing everything from dimming the lights to talking to the coffee machine, but then it is thier job to evaluate such stuff and money does not seem to be an issue – overall the Echo was well recieved and they do consider it to be the future as more smart appliances become common and the world moves toward the Internet of Everything. Would I buy one? na, junked the smartphone in favour of one I could put in my pocket and afford to lose! And I really, really dont need to have a conversation with the ‘fridge just yet.