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The best smart displays of 2019 – CNET

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The Google Nest Hub and the Amazon Echo Show are two of the best options. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

With popular models like the Google Nest Hub (formerly the Google Home Hub) and the Amazon Echo Show 5 leading the way, the smart display category has blossomed over the past year. Almost a dozen smart displays have hit the market, with a new batch launching this summer. Smart displays combine the always-listening voice assistance of a smart speaker with a touchscreen for watching videos, controlling your smart home and more.

If you’re ready to upgrade your smart speaker, or you’re just starting your smart home and you find the touchscreen appealing, here are the best smart displays available now.

Note that the products discussed here are independently chosen by our editors. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

Read more: Google Nest Hub wins CNET’s Editors’ Choice. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

You can often find the Nest Hub (formerly called the Google Home Hub) on sale for $100 or less, making it an affordable entry point for the category. It’s also the smartest and best overall, making the lower price even more appealing. 

Thanks to the built-in Google Assistant, the Nest Hub responds to all of the same voice commands as the Google Home Mini smart speaker. The touchscreen is a little small at 7 inches, but the adaptive brightness makes pictures look particularly great. Google will even customize a slideshow of family pics as your screensaver.

You can also watch videos and control your smart home with an intuitively designed control panel. Unlike most of the other smart displays, the Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera, but that might be a bonus if you have privacy concerns and want to put it in your bedroom. The colorful fabric design can blend in anywhere, though the touchscreen comes in particularly handy if you want step-by-step help through a recipe in the kitchen.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

With the Show 5, Amazon’s Alexa will respond to your voice commands, and you can use the screen to play games, browse recipes, control your smart home and more. The 5.5-inch screen is small, but it fits well next to your bed and includes a physical shutter for privacy.

In addition to the usual tricks, Amazon rolled out a new smart-home control panel with the Echo Show 5. A sunrise alarm feature helps ease you out of your sleep with a screen that starts getting brighter 15 minutes before your scheduled wake-up time. You can watch new how-to videos, or make a video call with a tap. 

Google Assistant still makes better use of the touchscreen than Amazon — in particular, the cooking directions and smart home controls are better — but the Echo Show 5 is close enough if you’re already invested in Alexa, and it’s better for your bedroom even if you’re neutral as far as the assistant is concerned. It’s Amazon’s best smart display yet. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

If you want a 10-inch touchscreen powered by Google Assistant, the Lenovo Smart Display looks elegant and features the same smarts as the Nest Hub. Lenovo actually offers two different models: a 10-inch version for $250 and an 8-inch model for $200. The 10-inch smart display has a bamboo back that’s particularly well suited for the kitchen.

The Lenovo Smart Display was actually the first smart display to debut with Google Assistant built-in and it’s still one of the best. You still get Google’s smart-home control panels and recipe guides, and the Lenovo display has a camera for video calls and a physical shutter to cover it if you want privacy. 

Note that the Google Nest Hub Max has a similar 10-inch screen and is due out in September. The Hub Max will have extra features like gesture controls and a built-in security cam for roughly the same price, so it could make Lenovo’s display obsolete. Nevertheless, Lenovo’s stylish display is the best 10-inch model with Google Assistant right now.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you want a smart display that can double as a speaker for a party, look no further than the JBL Link View. Like the Lenovo Smart Display, it has Google Assistant built-in, and the same basic interface as the Lenovo model and the Nest Hub. It only has an 8-inch screen, which isn’t great for $250, and the design is a little clunky.

Nevertheless, it has all of the same great touchscreen features as the other Google Assistant models and when you start playing music, the JBL Link View shines. The sound quality is a little bass-heavy, but it’s loud and full enough to get a room rockin.

On the way:

The Google Nest Hub Max — Amazon just moved into entry-level smart displays with the Show 5, and Google’s next model will look to outdo Amazon on the premium end. The Hub Max will have a 10-inch screen and a $230 price. It’s due out Sept. 9. Plus, it has a built-in Nest Cam so it can watch for motion when you’re gone. That Nest Cam will also recognize gestures so you can play and pause music with your hand, and it can follow you around while you talk during video calls.

Smart display comparison

Best overall Best Alexa display Best full-size display Best sound quality
Google Nest Hub Amazon Echo Show 5 Lenovo Smart Display 10-inch/8-inch JBL Link View
Cost $130 $90 $250/ $200 $250
Screen size 7-inch (177.8 mm) 5.5-inch (139.7 mm) 10.1-inch (256.5 mm) / 8-inch (203.2 mm) 8-inch (203.2 mm)
Resolution 1,024×600 960×480 1080p (1,920×1,200)/ 720p (1,280×800) 720p (1,280×800)
Dimensions (WxHxD) 7.02 x 4.65 x 2.65 inches (178.5 x 118 x 67.3 mm) 5.8 x 3.4 x 2.9 inches (148 x 86 x 73 mm) 6.8 x 12.3 x 0.5 – 5.4 inches(173.87 x 311.37 x 12.5 — 136.02 mm)/ 5.6 x 10.4 x 0.5 – 4.4 inches (142.21 x 263.21 x 12.5 — 111.36 mm) 13 x 6 x 3.9 inches (332 x 152 x 100 mm)
Weight 1.1 lbs. (480 grams) 0.9 lbs. (410 grams) 2.6 lbs. (1,200 grams) / 2.2 lbs. (1,000 grams) 2.9 lbs. (1,300 grams) net weight
Wireless connectivity Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0 Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth speakers requiring PIN codes not supported Wi-Fi (802.11ac, 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2
Voice assistant Google Assistant Alexa Google Assistant Google Assistant
Calling and messaging Direct dial (US, UK, and Canada, outgoing calls only), video calls with Google Duo Alexa Messaging, Skype, direct dial (US and Mexico) Direct dial (US, UK, and Canada, outgoing calls only), video calls with Google Duo Direct dial (US, UK, and Canada, outgoing calls only), video calls with Google Duo
Smart kitchen features Step-by-step recipe assistance with YouTube tutorial videos Step-by-step recipe assistance; Amazon Meal Kits integration Step-by-step recipe assistance with YouTube tutorial videos Step-by-step recipe assistance with YouTube tutorial videos
Onscreen smart home controls Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in camera No Yes (1MP) Yes (5MP) Yes (5MP)
Privacy shutter n/a Yes Yes Yes
Microphones 2-mic array 2-mic array 4-mic array (2 front, 2 rear) 2-mic array
Speakers Full range speaker (80 dB SPL @ 1KHz, @ 1m) Full range 1.65 inch 4W speaker .75 10W Full Range Speaker 2 x Passive Tweeters 2 x 10W speakers with 2-inch (51 mm) full range drivers
Streaming music services iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music
Streaming video services YouTube, YouTube TV, Google Play Movies, CBS All Access, HBO Now Amazon Prime Video, NBC, Vevo YouTube, YouTube TV, Google Play Movies, CBS All Access, HBO Now YouTube, YouTube TV, Google Play Movies, CBS All Access, HBO Now
Compatible smart home cameras D-Link, EZVIZ, Nest Cam, Netgear Arlo, Skybell Video Doorbell, Smartcam, Swann, TP-Link Kasa Cam, Vivitar Amazon Cloud Cam, Amcrest, August Doorbell Cam, Blink, Canary, D-Link, EZVIZ, Logitech Circle, meShare, Nest Cam, Netgear Arlo, Ring Video Doorbell, Toucan, TP-Link Kasa Cam, Wyze Cam, Zmodo D-Link, EZVIZ, Nest Cam, Netgear Arlo, Skybell Video Doorbell, Smartcam, Swann, TP-Link Kasa Cam, Vivitar D-Link, EZVIZ, Nest Cam, Netgear Arlo, Skybell Video Doorbell, Smartcam, Swann, TP-Link Kasa Cam, Vivitar
Other notable features Ambient EQ automatic adaptive screen brightness; Digital picture frame via Google Photos with Live Albums; Live TV with YouTube TV; Send directions to your phone or chosen recipes from your phone to the display; Digital Wellbeing mode for parental restrictions and downtime hours Sunrise alarms. Tap to snooze. Customizable clock faces. Customizable alarm tones. YouTube access via Silk or Firefox browsers Live TV with YouTube TV; Send directions to your phone or chosen recipes from your phone to the display; Digital Wellbeing mode for parental restrictions and downtime hours Live TV with YouTube TV; Send directions to your phone or chosen recipes from your phone to the display; Digital Wellbeing mode for parental restrictions and downtime hours
Color options Charcoal, Aqua, Chalk, Sand Charcoal, Sandstone Bamboo/gray Black
Availability US, UK, Australia and 12 others US, UK, Australia and 7 others US only US only
Expected ship date Available now Available now Available now Available now
Warranty 1-year 1-year 1-year 1-year

The rest:

Amazon Echo Show (2nd generation) — The original Echo Show helped popularize the smart display back in 2017, and the current second-gen Show improved on it in every way with better design, sound quality and a more useful screen. It’s a good premium counterpart to the attractive $90 entry point of the Echo Show 5. The second-gen Show has great sound quality and a 10-inch screen. The touchscreen just isn’t as useful as similar models with Google Assistant.

Facebook Portal and Portal Plus — The $200 Facebook Portal and the $350 Portal Plus make great video calls. They can track and follow any individual in frame so you can move freely as you talk. Otherwise, they have Alexa built-in, but they aren’t as smart as the rest. And of course, Facebook has recently faced numerous privacy scandals, so putting one of its cameras in your home takes a big leap of faith.

Lenovo Smart Clock — This $80 smart alarm trims out a lot of the functionality of smart displays. There’s no camera. You can’t watch videos or look at pictures. You can customize alarms and scroll through screens with weather and commute info. It’s cute and tailored for your nightstand, but it’s more of an upgraded alarm clock than a full smart display.

Now playing: Watch this: The battle for the best smart display: Google Home Hub…

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LG WK9 — LG’s smart display sounds great, has a camera and has the same Google Assistant smarts as the other third-party displays. It originally cost $300, which was way too much, but you can now regularly find it for less. Still, it doesn’t sound quite as good as the JBL Link View, and the 8-inch screen is surrounded by an ugly exterior. The WK9 doesn’t distinguish itself enough to be worth your consideration.

The Amazon Echo Spot — The Spot was Amazon’s first attempt at a bedside smart display, but it has a camera and no shutter, which is a problem for a device meant to be near you while you sleep. The screen is tiny. You can still watch videos, but why would you? Otherwise, it doesn’t have much in the way of unique features tailored for your bedroom and it’s too expensive at $130. Go with the Show 5 if you want an Alexa touchscreen next to your bed.

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