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Lenovo reveals the best Amazon Echo Dot with Clock alternative I've seen yet

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa, plugged into a Lenovo Ambient Light Dock
The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa, plugged into one of Lenovo's Ambient Light Docks (Image credit: Future)

Lenovo’s known for some of the best smart speakers that don’t come directly from Amazon and Google. But up until now, Lenovo’s speaker-smart clocks only supported the latter’s voice assistant, Google Assistant. This is changing with the new $59 Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa, announced during CES 2022.

In its first attempt at one of the best Alexa smart speakers, Lenovo is taking a simple approach with the next evolution of the $49 Lenovo Smart Clock Essential. Though the shape and general design looks more like the $89 Lenovo Smart Clock 2, the updated Smart Clock Essential isn’t a smart display. Instead, it shows the time like a humble bedside alarm clock — no touch controls in sight.

While a touchscreen comes in handy for customizing your clock face or interacting with your other smart home devices, a fingerprint-free timepiece is just as tempting. And the 2022 Smart Clock Essential still manages to look more modern than the older one. Not only is it compatible with the optional stand that functions as built-in nightlight and wireless smartphone charging pad; it can dock in two new tactile, light-up stands shaped like sea creatures called Lenovo Ambient Light Docks. 

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa plugged into an Lenovo Ambient Light Dock

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa plugged into an Ambient Light Dock. (Image credit: Future)

Also available in a rust-colored Clay Red finish, the Smart Clock Essential with Alexa definitely plays up the kid-friendly role. The stands are adorably squishy and display fun light shows, reminding me of the Amazon Echo Glow. But the Echo Glow still requires a nearby Alexa speaker to control with your voice, while the Smart Clock Essential with Alexa offers a speaker and cute bedside light combined. 

I even saw the clock face transform into a pair of eyes when I summoned Alexa, which can be done with a wake word or by pressing the launch button on the top of the Smart Clock Essential. It’s unclear whether the face is a specific input assigned by the squid-shaped base the unit was attached to, though. 

Of course, you could skip the accessories and use the Smart Clock Essential as you would the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock, calling on Alexa when it’s convenient but otherwise keeping the device somewhere you’d want to see the time at a glance. Considering the Dot with Clock is my top choice among the best smart home devices, I find the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential an easy sell. 

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa in Clay Red finish

(Image credit: Future)

As an Alexa user, I’m not keen on using Lenovo’s past smart clocks with Google Assistant on a regular basis. But I could see myself placing a Smart Clock Essential with Alexa on my bedside, ready to take commands for controlling the best Alexa compatible devices in my home, or simply launching my sleep sounds. And unlike my Echo Dot with Clock, the Smart Clock Essential has a USB port, so I can use it to charge my smartphone or smartwatch.

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa price and release date

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa even comes at the same price as the Echo Dot with Clock: $59. Meanwhile, the Lenovo Ambient Light Docks cost $29 each. The Smart Clock is available starting this month, with the docks coming before the end of Q1 2022.

This is just one of the many new product reveals we've seen tied to the big show, check out our CES 2022 live blog for the latest news.

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.