The Amazon Echo smart speaker, powered by the Alexa voice assistant has been a surprise hit. It’s popularity has given a rise to a number of smart home speakers. The Google Home, powered by Google Assistant is a great smart speaker and some would say it’s even better. Then, there’s the Harman Kardon’s speaker, powered by Microsoft’s Cortana, in the works. And as you might have guessed, the Lenovo Smart Assistant is the latest entrant to the category. Announced prior to CES 2017, it’s not really an Amazon Echo competitor, considering it’s powered by Amazon’s Alexa platform.
Now that a new Alexa smart speaker has arrived (apart from Amazon’s other offerings like Tap and Echo Dot), you must be wondering, how does the Lenovo offering fare against Amazon’s, right? Well, we thought so and thus, we are pitting Lenovo Smart Assistant against Amazon Echo to find out which is the best Alexa speaker out there:
Design and Size
The Lenovo Smart Assistant speaker looks a lot like Amazon Echo and that’s not a bad thing, considering we like how the Amazon device looks. It features the same cylindrical tube-like design but there are differences. First off, unlike the Echo’s flat top, the Lenovo Smart Assistant features a top that is jutted out. According to Lenovo, this makes up for a better ventilation for the Intel Atom processor. Also, the Lenovo Smart Assistant is available is three vibrant colors: Light Gray, Orange, Blue and a Black Harman Kardon edition.
Other major difference when it comes to the design is the fact that Lenovo Smart Assistant ditches the mute button, that you find in Echo on the top. The mute button is handy, when you don’t want Alexa to listen to you and its removal in Lenovo’s speaker is a big deal, at least for me. Lenovo’s speaker does feature the activate button, which is used to set up Alexa.
Other than that, it features the volume ring on top along with the cool LED light ring, we’ve come to love in the Echo.
Microphones and Speakers
The Lenovo Smart Assistant features 8 far field 360-degree microphones with noise cancellation, so that it can hear you well even if you have a large house. The mics work in 6+2 arrangement and can hear commands from as far as 5 metres. On the other hand, the Amazon Echo features 7 far field 360-degree microphones that do the job of receiving commands pretty well. The Amazon Echo mic does a great job and with an additional mic, the Lenovo speaker should do even better.
When it comes to speakers, the Lenovo Smart Assistant features some serious power, especially in its Harman Kardon edition. The standard Lenovo Smart Assistant features a speaker that packs 5W Treble and a 10W Woofer. The Harman Kardon edition adds a 2-inch sound cavity, which offers deeper bass and clearer sound. The Amazon Echo features a fairly powerful 360-degree sound system with a 2.5-inch woofer and 2.0-inch tweeter. While the sound quality is decent on Echo, the Harman Kardon Lenovo Smart Assistant should offer way better sound.
Like Amazon Echo, the Lenovo Alexa speaker features WiFi Dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) tech and support the 802.11a/b/g/n standard. Both the devices also support Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, so that you can play music over Bluetooth from your Android or iOS device.
Also, the Lenovo speaker, like Echo, is not a portable device and you will have to keep it connected to a power outlet all the time for it to work.
The Lenovo Smart Assistant trumps the Amazon Echo when it comes to under the hood specifications. Compared to Echo’s outdated Texas Instruments DM3725 ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 256 MB RAM and 4 GB of storage, the Lenovo speaker features Intel’s Celeron N3060 processor and packs in 2 GB RAM, 8 GB of storage.
The fact that even the Lenovo Smart Assistant is powered by Alexa, makes sure that the voice capabilities on both speakers will be pretty much identical. Basically, you get the same Alexa commands for both the devices, plus you can customize your experience with Alexa skills.
However, there’s a bit of confusion on the fact that Lenovo is said to be releasing its own app to pair the Smart Assistant with your Android or iOS device, while Lenovo’s website states that you will be able to use the Alexa app. Well, we should know more about it when the Lenovo Smart Assistant is released.
Price and Availability
The Lenovo Smart Assistant will be released in the US in May 2017. Its standard edition will go for $129.99, while the Harman Kardon edition will be priced at $179.99. Before it arrives in the US, it will be released in Lenovo’s home market, China, in March. On the other hand, the Amazon Echo is available in the US, UK and Germany and is priced at $179.
|Lenovo Smart Assistant||Amazon Echo|
|Dimensions||NA||9.25 x 3.27 x 3.27 inches|
|Weight||760 grams||1045 grams|
|Buttons||Action||Mute, Action, Volume Buttons|
|Lights||Light Ring||Light Ring|
|Speaker||360-degree sound system (5W Tweeter and a 10W Woofer) and Harman Kardon edition adds 2" sound cavity||360-degree sound system (2.5-inch Woofer and 2.0-inch Tweeter)|
|Microphone||8 far field 360-degree microphones with noise cancellation||7 far field 360-degree microphones|
|Processor||Intel Celeron N3060||Texas Instruments DM3725 ARM Cortex-A8|
|RAM||2 GB||256 MB|
|Storage||8 GB||4 GB|
|WiFi||802.11a/b/g/n Dual Band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)||802.11a/b/g/n Dual Band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)|
|Bluetooth Audio Input||Yes||Yes|
|Bluetooth Audio Output||No||No|
|AUX Audio Input||No||No|
|AUX Audio Output||No||No|
|Power||Adapter (not portable)||Adaper (not portable)|
|Alexa Activation||Voice or Action button||Voice or Action button|
|All Alexa Features||Yes||Yes|
|Price||$129.99 (Standard), $179.99 (Harman Kardon)||$179.99|
|Colors||Black, Light Gray, Green, Orange||Black, White|
Lenovo Smart Assistant vs Amazon Echo: Which Alexa Speaker Should You Buy?
To sum things up, the Lenovo Smart Assistant speaker is simply a repackaged Amazon Echo with a better speaker. So, if you have been waiting for a new Echo that packs in better speakers, the Lenovo offering should be a decent choice. However, the lack of mute button is kind of a big deal to me but to each his own. Well, that’s what I think but I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of the Alexa powered Lenovo Smart Assistant speaker? Sound off in the comments section below.