Other Gadgets

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential: Trusted bedside companion

Mala Bhargava June 23 | Updated on June 23, 2021

A tiny alarm clock with Google’s voice assistant always at hand

Smart clocks are one of those gadgets that you don’t need until you experience them. After using them for a while, you really find their absence an annoyance and an inconvenience. Google and Amazon have a host of smart display devices which of course display the time and allow you to set alarms, but Lenovo also has a few on offer, one of which is its relatively tiny Smart Clock Essential, an improvement on an original that came out a few years ago.

The Essential, as we’ll call it for short, is a mere 4 inches across. It doesn’t feel that small and actually is the right size you’d expect a small bedside table clock to be. The back sticks out, covered in a grey fabric, quite far outward because after all, it does have a speaker inside it. That fabric is probably prone to get quite dirty so it’s best not to forget it while doing the dusting.

The clock has to stay plugged into power. It’ll always be a little warm, but that’s ignorable. It doesn’t run on battery. Once it’s turned on, you’ll hear the clock telling you to download the Google Home app on your controlling device. Open the Home app and you’ll be led through the process of setting up step by step. There’s nothing much to it. It practically completes itself and lets you know.

Voice control

Now the Essential is ready to be used. It’s really got the heart of a smart speaker in the body of an alarm clock. You can just use it as a clock and city temperature gauge and set an alarm from one of the buttons located on top, but it’s easier to do with a voice command — which doesn’t have to be at all loud. You can whack a button to turn off an alarm but that too is easier with voice. When you say ‘Hey Google’, four little lights light up to show it’s listening. Ask the usual Google questions and it’ll answer. Sadly, the screen doesn’t change to show you anything else when you say, ask for weather information, but that’s more the job of a smart speaker with display. All changes can be made from the Home app.

The time on the clock is displayed in very large and bright digits which can be seen from far. In the dark, it would be impossible to sleep, so the device dims the display. The display isn’t touch sensitive and interactive but is a full-fledged Google assistant device all the same.

The clock has a night light you can voice command which is very useful for restroom trips in the dark.

Music sources

The one thing the little Essential does do is control a big lunch of smart home devices — to be set up from the Home app. You can also play music on it though any of the several supporting music sources including Spotify. It can also act as a chromecaster. As a speaker for music, it’s obviously limited being that small, but it can get loud and is quite okay for some un-demanding listening and definitely for listening to the news etc.

You may wonder what the other devices in the room will do when you say ‘Hey Google’ but since they’re all on the same network, they do figure out which one is about to answer and they will give right of way, depending on your proximity.

Published on June 23, 2021

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