Hands-On Review: the Lenovo Smart Display 7

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The Lenovo Smart Display 7 is a device after my own heart. Its modern design, intuitive functionality, and practical application are the first qualities I look for in a good a piece of consumer tech. Recently, I got to spend a couple days with the Smart Display 7 and was thoroughly pleased with the entire experience—so much so, I’m picking the Smart Display 7 as one of my top tech gifts of the season. Here’s why.

Lenovo Smart Display 7
Lenovo Smart Display 7

Design

One of the things I love about the Smart Display 7 is its aesthetic. I’m a sucker for clean lines and a simple (but not too simple) look. The Smart Display 7 emphatically checks those boxes with a modern design that fits well within almost any modern décor. The front of the display is largely occupied by its 7" touchscreen, which offers 1024 x 600 screen resolution and features dramatically thinner bezels than its predecessor. Above the touchscreen is a front-facing 2MP camera (for video conferencing) and below it sits a pair of left-and-right stereo speakers. The speakers are encased in a larger chamber that’s covered by a single sheet of gray fabric. According to Lenovo, the speaker design and enclosure are meant to improve the audio clarity and resonance, but what I really appreciated was how nice it made the display look. It’s an elegant touch and, in my opinion, looks much better than a grille.

Lenovo Smart Display 7

The back of the display is less striking. It features a straightforward, alarm clock-esque design with a plain white matte finish. The backside material has a little bit of a plastic feel to it, but that didn’t really bother me. The only time I even noticed the back was during my initial inspection. After setup, the back remained hidden. The only thing I ever saw was the nice screen and stylish speaker plate.

Despite very much loving the overall design, I will nitpick at one thing: the power adapter. Simply put, it is too big. The adapter blocked three whole outlets on my power strip and forced me to rearrange my entire plug situation. That’s a small gripe, one that shouldn’t dissuade anyone from buying the display, but it is worth mentioning in case your home outlet options are scarce.

Setup and Installation

There's not a lot to say about setting up the Smart Display 7 other than it is as easy and painless as anyone could reasonably expect. If you don’t already have the Google Home App, you’ll need to download it. Other than that, you basically plug the display in and let it do its thing. First-time users of the Google Home app will need to calibrate their voice commands, adjust settings, and connect to the Wi-Fi, but otherwise, the whole thing is a breeze. Barring a big software update, you’ll be out of the box and streaming in no time.

Performance

With smart displays, there are three factors I tend to look at when judging performance. The first is the digital assistant. The Smart Display 7 uses Google Assistant, which, as I have written before, is the most capable of all the assistants. It can answer virtually any question you throw at it; plus, it supports thousands and thousands of apps and smart devices, so you can execute myriad tasks (e.g., play a song, show a clip, dim the lights) with only the sound of your voice.

The other two big performance factors are sight and sound. How good is the display? What quality is the audio? First off, the touchscreen is solid. It’s perfectly responsive and, in terms of visual quality, it’s comparable to what you’d see on Lenovo’s Smart Display 8 or the Google Home Hub, which is to say, pretty good. Video and stills looked relatively sharp, and the viewing angles were good. audio, too, was quite good. In fact, compared to the single speaker output of earlier Lenovo displays, the Smart Display 7’s audio quality is noticeably better. Its 5W stereo speakers deliver solid, clear sound that’s perfectly suitable for songs and video, and definitely offers more resonance than its single-speaker siblings.

Lenovo Smart Display 7

Scoring high on all three performance metrics, the Smart Display 7 quickly became an integral part of my day. It was especially useful during my morning routine, which typically involves listening to last night’s monologues, some music or, if I need a ha-ha pick-me-up, one of John Mulaney’s comedy specials. Prior to the Smart Display 7, accessing any of that content meant scouring through my phone or turning on my PS4 to launch Netflix. Now, all I have to do is ask Google, and the Smart Display plays whatever I want, whether it’s a video clip or song or comedy special. I realize that’s not a huge timesaver or shortcut, but it is enough of an assist to impact my day positively, which I appreciate. What’s also great is that with the Smart Display, I can actually glance over and see the video I’m streaming instead of just listening to it play in the background or through my phone’s tiny speaker. I was surprised by how much better this made the experience and, in turn, my morning routine.

Of course, the Smart Display 7 does more than just play comedy clips and songs. You can use the front-facing camera for video conferencing, set timers and alarms, ask it a million questions, even control the other smart devices in your house. In my testing, the display aced all of these tasks without hiccup.

Lenovo Smart Display 7

Conclusion

Rigorous testing aside, the easiest way for me to judge a piece of tech is by how much I don’t want to give it back when the review period is over. Well, the review period is officially over, and I am definitely not returning the Smart Display 7 until I absolutely must. It was such a welcome addition to my home, both in terms of aesthetic and just how useful it was. Whether I was calling up recipes or queuing up songs, I really felt like I benefitted from having the Smart Display 7 around. Now, does that mean the Smart Display 7 is right for everyone? Well, I definitely think that most people would view it as an asset. It’s an easily accessible portal to an endless amount of information and entertainment—who doesn’t need that? Plus, even if you don’t take advantage of all its powerful features and functions, it’s still arguably the best looking alarm clock you’ll ever buy. If you’re in the market for smart display, I strongly endorse the Smart Display 7.

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