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Best Smart Display 2020 – Buying Guide and Smart Display Reviews

It all started with a talking speaker named Alexa and now she’s not the only one of her kind. Google brought us Google Home, a smart speaker powered by Google Assistant. Now, these assistants not only come on smart speakers but also on smart displays.

Smart displays are relatively new editions to the world of smart devices. Smart displays are just like their smart speaker counterparts but the key difference is a screen is included on the device.

Devices powered by Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have many capabilities including setting alarms, controlling smart lighting, playing music, and more. Smart displays are able to do what smart speakers can, including, play videos, display pictures, display weather, video calls, and more.

There are multiple different models of smart displays on the market and discerning the difference from each model can take more time than it is worth. In this guide, we will highlight the differences, similarities, and advantages of the best smart displays available in 2019.

The 6 Best Smart Displays For 2019

ProductScreen sizeFull HDResolutionVoice control 
2.5 inchesNo480x480Alexa
10 inchesYes1920x1200Google Assistant
10.1 inchesYes1280x800Alexa
10.1 inchesYes1200x800Alexa
7 inchesNo1024x600Google Assistant
8 inchesYes1280x800Google Assistant

Echo Spot

About the Smart Display

The Echo Spot is produced by one of the most famous and largest online retailers, Amazon. Amazon sells just about everything and if they don’t sell it yet then they probably will eventually. Amazon originally started out as an online bookstore and now has branched out to selling anything from appliances to groceries.

The Echo Spot is one of Amazon’s new devices in the Echo line. The Echo Spot is designed to look like an alarm clock but can do everything the normal Echo can and more. The Echo Spot has a front facing camera that is capable of capturing video for video calls. Normal voice calls are supported as well.

On top of the Echo Spot are 3 buttons for controlling the volume and to temporarily deactivate the microphones and camera.

Not only can the Echo Spot play music over its own speaker, but it can also connect to other speakers as well via Bluetooth and a 3.5mm audio jack. The screen measures 2.5 inches across and has a resolution of 480 x 480. The price for the Echo Spot varies and can range from US$99.00 to US$129.99.

Our Thoughts

Google Smart Display

The Echo Spot is the smallest of all the smart displays on this list and doesn’t offer a great viewing experience like many other smart displays, however, this is not what the Echo Spot is meant for. This device is best used on a nightstand to display time and weather as opposed to an entire YouTube Video.

However, even if it did have a larger screen it would not be able to display a YouTube video due to Google and Amazon’s ongoing dispute making all Google technology unsupported with Amazon devices.

For the cost of US$129.99, Amazon is asking way too much for such a small screen. US$99.00 is a bit more reasonable but even this price is a bit steep for a speaker with such a small screen on it.

We’d like to see the Echo Spot more competitively priced, however, Amazon holds a major lead in the smart speaker market, allowing them to keep their prices higher for now.

The Pros

  • Unobtrusive
  • Small

The Cons

  • Incompatible With Google Services
  • Expensive

Lenovo Smart Display

About the Smart Display

Next up, Lenovo is a Chinese company based in Beijing. Lenovo produces just about everything electronic from smartphones, laptops, servers, and more. In 2014 Lenovo purchased the famous brand Motorola from Google for US$2.91 billion.

Since then Lenovo has partnered with Google on multiple fronts, one of them being the Lenovo Smart Display. The Lenovo Smart Display comes with a 10-inch screen, being one of the largest screens for smart displays.

The back of this device is covered in a bamboo finish while the front has 2 speakers to the left of the screen. To the right of the screen is a camera allowing the device to make video calls. The design on the back of the device allows it to be placed vertically into portrait mode creating a more complete picture for video calls.

A switch to the right of the camera is included to cover the camera for privacy, the microphone can also be muted. The camera is a 5-megapixel wide-angle camera. This smart display is capable of cycling through your uploaded pictures via Google Photos.

Google Assistant comes preinstalled on this device allowing the user to use voice commands for multiple functions including music, smart lighting, video calls, and more. The cost of the 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display can range from US$199.99 to US$249.99, a fairly large difference in price.

Our Thoughts

Google Smart Displays

This smart display has a beautiful large screen, offering one of the best views for video calling and YouTube viewing on smart displays. The cost of US$249.99 can be a bit steep. However, the cost of US$199.99 is more reasonable, especially compared to its competitors like the Echo Spot.

The audio quality could use some improvement since the bass is lacking and the treble can sound a bit distorted at high volumes. For the price of US$199.99, we would like to see higher audio quality from this device.

The switch to cover the camera is welcomed allowing for peace of mind when it comes to privacy concerns along with the option to mute the microphone.

The Pros

  • Large Display
  • Landscape and Portrait Mode
  • Physical Camera Cover
  • Google Services Integrated

The Cons

  • Differing Prices
  • Mediocre Audio Quality

Echo Show

About the Smart Display

We’ve already covered Amazon previously in this guide with the Echo Spot description. Without further ado, we have the Echo Show! The Echo Show is Amazon’s premier smart display with a screen size of 10 inches.

Unlike the 1st generation Echo Show, the 2nd generation doesn’t have the awkward speaker beneath the display and the display is 3 inches larger than the 1st generation. The Echo Show allows the user to control music, smart lighting, and more throughout the house.

Though Google Services are still unavailable on Amazon Echo devices, YouTube can now be viewed on this device via the web browsers in Firefox or Amazon’s Silk browser. This is better than having zero YouTube access but YouTube video still can’t be accessed via voice commands.

The price of the Echo Show 2nd gen can range from US$179.99 to US$244.98, consistently cheaper than the Lenovo Smart Display.

Our Thoughts

Google Assistant With Screen

For a smart display this large, we would have wanted to see a bit more integration but Amazon keeps digging their heels against Google. Specifically, this smart display has zero Google Maps support. When the users ask Alexa for directions no maps are shown on the screen and no directions are sent to a smartphone.

This is a major caveat for all Amazon Echo devices since Google Services are a must to have a truly integrated smart device. Blocking Google Services makes Amazon akin to the Chinese government which blocks all Google Services, even GMail.

The price difference between US$179.99 to US$244.98 is fairly large. However, both prices are still cheaper than the Lenovo Smart Display. But does the cheaper price make up for the lack of Google Services? That is for the purchaser to decide, assuming they’re aware of such things.

There is no physical cover for the camera on the front of the display. The camera may be turned off in the settings but without an actual physical cover, there is no guarantee the camera is turned off.

The Pros

  • Large Display
  • Cheaper Than Competition
  • Integrated Web Browser

The Cons

  • Lacks Physical Camera Cover
  • Differing Prices
  • Incompatible With Google Services

Facebook Portal

About the Smart Display

Moving onto another device created by another famous company, Facebook. Facebook is used by 214 million Americans and 1.8 billion people worldwide. To say Facebook is far-reaching and powerful is an understatement. Facebook isn’t famous for their hardware, will this model change that?

The Facebook Portal comes with a large 10-inch display and a speaker beneath the display. The Facebook portal outpaces its competitors with a 12-megapixel camera, far better than the 5-megapixel cameras its competitors have.

The portal is meant for video calling more than any other smart display and it surpasses its competition with Facebook’s technology called Smart Camera. Smart Camera automatically adjusts the camera to follow the user around their room so they don’t have to adjust the positioning of the device.

Amazon Alexa is integrated with the device so controlling your smart home features are as simple as they are on an Amazon Echo. The Portal only allows video calls between other Portals and Facebook users, limiting who the user can video chat with.

The Portal’s camera and microphone can be disabled with a button on the top of the device and a camera cover is included with the device. All video calls made over Portal are encrypted so that Facebook can’t view your calls.

The price of the Facebook Portal ranges from US$149.00 to US$199.00, cheaper than the Lenovo Smart Display and Echo Show. Despite having Amazon Alexa, the Portal is able to use Google Services like YouTube since apps may be installed on the Portal.

Our Thoughts

Displays Home

This smart display outpaces all of its competitors when it comes to video calls and their quality. The Smart Camera is exceptional when focusing in on participants in a video call and the 12-megapixel camera is far better than the Echo Show and Lenovo Smart Display’s 5-megapixel camera.

The price of this device is very competitive. The highest price for the Portal is the cheapest price of the Lenovo Smart Display. The Portal falls short on audio quality compared to its competition. If you intend to use your smart display for video calls then this is the right smart display for you.

The Pros

  • Best Video Calling Experience
  • Encrypted Calls
  • Physical Camera Cover
  • Competitively Priced
  • YouTube Integration

The Cons

  • Video Calls Limited To Facebook Users
  • Mediocre Audio Quality

Google Home Hub

About the Smart Display

Next up we have yet another smart display from another company you may have heard of, Google. Google needs little introduction, they’re the most used search engine on the planet and have the most used mobile operating system on the planet, Android. But does their virtual assistant meet expectations?

The Google Home Hub is Google’s premier smart display. This device’s display is on the smaller side with a 7-inch display but does not disappoint. The display is designed to adapt to the lighting of the room making the images cycling through the screen appear as if they’re a normal photo in a picture frame. Google Photos is automatically integrated making it easy to cycle through the user’s favorite photos.

Google Assistant, of course, comes preinstalled with the device. Google Assistant is able to control music, smart lighting, and communicate with smartphones by sending directions, notifications, and more to a smartphone.

One thing the Google Home Hub lacks that the rest of the displays in this guide have is a camera. Without a camera, the Google Home Hub can’t make any video calls. However, this smart display is capable of normal voice calls.

The price for the Google Home Hub comes in around US$149.00. While this is cheaper than most of the smart displays in this guide, it doesn’t set itself apart with its price due to the lack of camera. The audio quality isn’t the best for music.

Our Thoughts

Google Displays

The Google Home Hub is a unique smart display for the sake of its adaptive screen brightness, making the images displayed to look like photos. For this feature, the Google Home Hub is the best smart display for the sake of being an electronic photo album. The display is unobtrusive and blends in with any room.

The pricing is rather high for this device since it does not support a camera, had this device supported a camera then the pricing would have been extremely competitive. For those looking for a smart display with a camera, this is not the device for you.

For those looking for a cheaper smart display without a camera that fits into any room, then this is the device for you.

The Pros

  • Adaptive Brightness
  • Google Services Integrated

The Cons

  • No Camera
  • Mediocre Audio Quality

JBL Link View

About the Smart Display

Finally, we have made it to our last smart display of this guide made by JBL. JBL is an American company based in Los Angeles California. JBL specializes in sound equipment for both consumer and professional use. Naturally, JBL has chosen to produce its own smart display.

The JBL Link View makes no compromises in its design from the high-quality speakers, camera, and display. The display measures a total of 8 inches, not the largest but definitely not smallest in this guide. Of all the smart displays covered in this guide, the JBL has the best sound quality.

The 5-megapixel camera on the front of the display is equipped with a physical camera cover. The JBL Link View is splash proof as well making kitchen use worry-free. Google Assistant comes pre-installed allowing the user to control music, smart lighting, and more with their voice.

The JBL Link View will cost about US$249.95, the most expensive smart display in this guide.

Our Thoughts

Smarts Screen

The JBL Link View is without a doubt the most expensive and one of the best smart displays in this guide. The higher expense for this smart display is due to the excellent audio quality along with all the features its Lenovo counterpart has. The splash resistance isn’t needed for smart displays but is reassuring.

For the price of US$249.95, this smart display packs a punch that matches the price for an excellent smart display and speaker. The price may seem high but for those looking for a smart display that can be used for music, this is the definite choice.

The Pros

  • Excellent Audio Quality
  • Physical Camera Cover
  • Splashproof

The Cons

  • Expensive

Do You Need a Smart Display?

Some may find that owning a smart display may be unnecessary and others may find it to be completely necessary. If one’s house has smart lighting, heating, cooling, and outlets then a smart display can make controlling these appliances in their house easier than a normal smart speaker would.

For those that love cooking, a smart display offers the ease of viewing recipes that a smart speaker can’t provide. For those that want an electronic photo album, smart displays offer unparalleled advantages compared to normal electronic photo albums.

When it comes down to it, owning a smart display should be based on the user’s wants and needs around the house. However, which smart display to buy is a whole other question to answer.

The Best Smart Display of 2019

Google Assistant Screen

Drum roll! The best smart display of 2019 goes to the JBL Link View! The JBL Link View accomplishes everything asked of a smart display and more. The screen is large, the speaker is high quality, the assistant is fully integrable with smartphones, and the video calling is not compromised.

Costing US$249.95, the JBL Link View is the most expensive smart display in this guide and is the highest quality. This may not be the correct smart display for each and every user but it outshines its competition with the excellence it provides.

Technology is always advancing, smart displays are relatively new but will become far more common, better, and hopefully cheaper in the coming future.

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