Lenovo’s pared-down Smart Clock Essential has an old-school LED display

The basic LED on the $50 Smart Clock Essential only tells you the time and temperature, but you can still ask Google Assistant to set an alarm.

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Nope, the new Lenovo Smart Clock Essential doesn’t do videos, slideshows or fancy user interfaces. Instead, you get a back-to-basics LED, although Google Assistant is still under the hood.

Slated to go on sale this fall for $50, the Smart Clock Essential is—essentially?—Lenovo’s take on Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo Dot with Clock, although the Smart Clock Essential’s four-inch LED display is slightly more detailed than the Echo Dot’s spare digital readout, featuring the temperature and weather as well as the time.

As with last year’s Lenovo Smart Clock (which we’ve reviewed), the Smart Clock Essential has a fabric-covered base and a single 1.5-inch 3W speaker, while a two-microphone array lets you chat with Google Assistant.

Naturally, you can ask the Assistant to set alarms, check the day’s agenda, play tunes, and control your smart home devices. The clock also boasts a built-in 31-lumen nightlight.

Along the top of the Smart Clock Essential are play, alarm and volume up/down buttons, while a mic-mute switch sits in back. Also in the back is a USB Type-A port, which you can use to charge your smartphone.

lenovo smart clock essential rear facing 2 Lenovo

Sitting in the back of the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is a microphone mute switch, along with a USB Type-A charging port.

Powered by an Amlogic A113X processor with 4GB of RAM, the Smart Clock Essential can connect to your home network via dual-band Wi-Fi, and it can stream audio to Bluetooth speakers courtesy of its Bluetooth 5.0 support.

At $50, the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is $10 cheaper than the list price for the Echo Dot with Clock, which has a basic LED clock readout peeking out from behind the speaker’s fabric covering.

That said, the Smart Clock Essential costs just as much as the current sale price for the similar-sized (and previously $80) Smart Clock, which comes with a full-on LCD screen that displays a variety of clock faces. While the Smart Clock couldn’t display photos at launch, an update last August added integration with Google Photos.

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