Dec 2nd, 2020 publishUpdated   Dec 15th, 2020, 10:23 am

If you’ve already put your smart home system together, chances are that you already have the best smart speakers that fit the bill. Whether it’s the Nest Audio family with Google Assistant, HomePod for the Apple faithful, or Echo speakers for Alexa fans, we really have reached the pinnacle (to-date) of smart home speakers.

But the truth of the matter is that there are still areas of the home that could provide even more benefits with the help of a smart speaker. Gone are the days of the old-school alarm clocks that continue beeping and making noises until they get thrown off of the bedside table. Now, there are new speakers that provide many of the smart features you would want, with some bonus features.

Lenovo joined the fray when it released the Lenovo Smart Clock back in 2019. This was a pretty capable smart speaker, with the ability to act as a true mini-smart display. Fast forward to today, and Lenovo now has the Smart Clock Essential, which is just a bit different.

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential Specifications

  • 4-inch LED Display
  • 1x 1.5” 3W speaker
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • LED ring light on back
  • Physical buttons
  • Microphone switch

The Good

There is a lot to like about the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, especially for those who don’t want a true smart display in their bedroom. From telling the time, to setting alarms and helping you see in the middle of the night, Lenovo did a lot to entice those looking for a new alarm clock.

Simple design

Instead of trying to do too much by including a mini smart display, the Smart Clock Essential is just that — a clock. After powering it up and syncing it with your Google Home app, you’re provided with the time and the temperature on the 4-inch LED display. On the top, you’ll find four physical buttons to adjust the volume, play or pause, and set an alarm.

On the back, there’s an LED ring that works as a night light, so you can forget having to fumble around with your phone to see in the dark. Lenovo also packed a physical mute switch, along with a USB-A port if that’s your kind of thing. The entire ensemble is sleek and is covered in fabric, which means it matches quite nicely with any other Nest speakers in your home.

Five more minutes

I don’t know about you, but I always need to get a few extra minutes of sleep when I wake up in the morning. There are multiple alarms that are set, each with varying snooze time frames. With the Smart Clock Essential, you can simply tap the top of the clock twice to snooze your alarm. Or, you can just yell “STOP” after it starts making noise, but that turns the alarm off altogether.

Control your smart home

As this is a smart speaker, it only makes sense for it to be able to control your various smart home products. Simply add it to your Google Home app, assign it to an area or room, and then ask Google Assistant to turn the lights off with ease. This is really convenient in the mornings, as you can also ask Assistant to let you know what’s going on in the news, or to play your favorite playlist.

The Not So Good

Nothing is perfect, and that sentiment rings true for the Smart Clock Essential. Corners had to be cut, as was expected when Lenovo introduced this smart speaker at just $50, which was $30 cheaper than its predecessor.

The light is too bright

There is one annoying issue with the lights on the Smart Clock Essential. The primary display, although it features an ambient light sensor, still ends up being too light in the middle of the night. The same goes for the LED ring light on the back of the clock, which is supposed to be your night light. You can adjust the light with your voice, but there are no hardware controls, and it can still end up being too bright for a dark room.

Useful but underwhelming

Lenovo knows this isn’t going to replace something like the Nest Hub, which explains the move to a more-traditional clock design. Having Assistant on your bedside table can be extremely useful, especially with the alarm clock features that are built-in. But the speakers themselves really shouldn’t be used for anything more than alarms and the occasional tidbit about the news. You won’t find any noteworthy bass thumping, and the high-end noises don’t sound really great.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the market for a smart clock with Google Assistant smarts onboard, then you don’t want to miss out on the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential. There’s really nothing else on the market like it, at least that is as small and compact as Lenovo’s offering. You’ll get an LED display with the time, day, and temperature, along with physical buttons on the top and an LED ring on the back to help navigate your dark room.

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_75 (4.75 / 5)

The Good

  • Traditional clock with Assistant
  • Physical mute switch and control buttons
  • Built-in LED ring light

The Bad

  • Speaker really isn’t that loud
  • Touch-sensitive snooze can be finicky
  • Lights may be too bright for some

The Bottom Line

Those looking for a new alarm clock to help them get up in the mornings will enjoy the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential. From the Assistant-enabled smart speaker to touch-sensitive snooze controls, this alarm clock has just about everything you could want.