Lenovo Smart Assistant is Amazon Alexa in a New BodyBy - 01/06/2017
Amazon’s Alexa is no doubt one of the leading voice-controlled AIs on the market. It has been for quite some time now, which is why at CES 2017, Lenovo announced Smart Assistant, a device that would take advantage of Alexa’s intelligence.
Lenovo wasn’t the first one to come up with the idea of putting Alexa into a different body. For the most part, the thinking has been innovative: integration with home robots, intercoms, connected lights, and cars. But Lenovo is taking a page straight out of Amazon’s book by offering their own cylinder shaped, Alexa-enabled speaker that can do whatever Amazon Echo can. Originally, one of its main selling points was its price. At $129.99, it is $50 cheaper than the 1st Generation Amazon Echo ($179.99) However, times have changed. Amazon has launched the 2nd Generation Amazon Echo with a lower price tag ($99.99), Echo Plus ($149.99), and several other Alexa-enabled devices (Echo Show, Echo Spot, Echo Look).
With all of these changes in place combined with the fact that Lenovo has failed to release its smart speaker on their promised date, does the Lenovo Smart Assistant still make sense?
What Can Lenovo’s Smart Assistant Do?
Lenovo Smart Assistant can do everything Echo can do, literally everything. It houses the same Alexa technology found inside both Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices. As such, it works with the same music services including Prime Music, Pandora, and Spotify. It can also search Wikipedia for useful trivia tidbits and supports skills.
Skills are the magic behind connecting Alexa’s services to devices that can help protect your home. Currently, Amazon offers skills for several smart home and home security devices. For example, you can arm your Frontpoint system with your voice, check out Blink Camera’s latest motion events, or even integrate indirectly to hundreds of other devices and services via IFTTT.
Alexa works with the following home security services to help protect your home, or at least make it more comfortable.
According to Lenovo, the Smart Assistant is also designed to run Lenovo smart home devices, though they don’t get specific as to what that means.
So if Lenovo Smart Assistant performs the same tasks, using the same technology, the same app, and looks basically the same, why buy it?
Lenovo Smart Assistant vs. Amazon Echo
As Lenovo Smart Assistant and Amazon Echo basically use the same software, perhaps the answer lies in the hardware. The major difference between Lenovo Smart Assistant and Amazon Echo (1st Gen) is sound quality. Lenovo’s device has a better speaker, and the Harman Kardon edition has an even better speaker. It also has eight microphones that can pick up voice commands from up to 16 feet away versus the 1st Gen Eco that only has seven. That said, I’ve never had a problem with the original Echo hearing me, even when I’m in another room.
However, keep in mind that there’s a new Amazon Echo as well as Amazon Echo Plus. Both devices offer improved audio. They both come with Dolby-powered dual speakers. Echo has a 2.5″ woofer and 0.6″ tweeter, while Echo Plus has a 0.8″ tweeter and a 2.5″ woofer.
As for the microphone, Echo and Echo Plus still feature seven far-field microphones. Once again, even though they only have seven mics, I’ve never had any issues with Echo hearing me.
|Amazon Echo||Lenovo Smart Assistant||Harman Kardon Edition|
|Alexa Voice Service|
|Alexa App Access|
|Far Field Microphones||Seven 360-degree far-field microphones||Eight 360-degree far-field microphones||Eight 360-degree far-field microphones|
|Speaker||2.5″ Woofer and 2.0″ Tweeter||10W Woofer and 5W Tweeter||Additional 2″ Sound Cavity for a Clearer Tweeter and Deeper Bass|
|Processor||Texas Instruments DM3725 ARM Cortex-A8 Processor||Intel® Celeron® N3060 Processor||Intel® Celeron® N3060 Processor|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, WiFi||Bluetooth, WiFi||Bluetooth, WiFi|
|Color||Black||Light Grey, Black, Orange, Blue||Black|
|Shipping||Now||May 2017||May 2017|
|Buy Now||Coming Soon||Coming Soon|
Lenovo may have had the advantage when they first announced Smart Assistant. However, you can’t expect technology to remain stagnant. Amazon has improved their lineup of Echo devices over the past months, and it’s now safe to say that the Smart Assistant is too little too late. If Lenovo launched the speaker back in May like they originally promised, it might have had a chance. But now that Echo is down to a hundred bucks and offers improved features, why even bother?
Photo Source: Lenovo