Lenovo's Smart Assistant Has Alexa Inside for Less

Editor in Chief
Updated

Lenovo Smart Assistant Hands-on

The Amazon Echo is so popular that Amazon simply can't keep up with demand. Fortunately, an alternative is coming with Alexa inside, and it's not only cheaper but better in a couple of ways.

We went hands-on with Lenovo's new Smart Assistant here at CES 2017, which will go on sale in May starting at $129. Based on my initial impressions, it could be a great value.

Why You Should Care

  • The Lenovo Smart Assistant boasts eight far-field microphones, which is one more than the Echo. This allows the smart speaker to hear your commands from up to 16 feet away.
  • Unlike the Echo, which is available in black and white, the Smart Assistant will come in more fun colors, including green and orange.
  • A special black Harman Kardon Edition, which promises superior audio via an additional 2-inch sound cavity, will cost $179. A Lenovo rep says that even the regular Smart Assistant offers deeper bass than Amazon's speaker.

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Hands-on Impressions

  • The demo units we played with were definitely pre-production models, as they needed to be reset a few times. Still, I had no problem turning off a nearby lamp with a Philips Hue bulb inside, or firing up 107.9 FM in Las Vegas on iHeart Radio.
  • As with the regular Echo, this is a wired product, so it needs to be plugged in. But you do get both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board.
  • There's a ring around the top that lights up when Alexa is listening, and you can control the volume by turning a dial atop the LED.

Pricing and Availability

The Lenovo Smart Assistant will be available in May for $129. The Harman Kardon edition will cost $179.

Outlook

There are going to be tons of gadgets in 2017 with Alexa inside, but the Smart Assistant looks like it could be a pretty good bargain if it performs as well as Lenovo promises.