Skip to main content

Lenovo's Smart Assistant Has Alexa Inside for Less

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.

MORE: Best Smart Home Tech - Systems, Gadgets, Devices

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.