- Smart displays add a screen to the typical smart speaker experience, so you can ask the digital assistant questions and see answers on the screen.
- You can also view videos and photos on smart displays, as well as control compatible smart home devices.
- The Amazon Echo Show is the best smart display for Alexa fans because it works with most major smart home devices, has a good-sized screen, and supports Amazon Prime Video and Hulu playback.
- For Google Assistant fans, the Lenovo Smart Display is the best choice with its large display, wide smart home compatibility, Google Calendar and Google Maps support, as well as the ability to play YouTube videos.
- Amazon Prime Day is back on July 15-16. We expect to see Prime Day deals on electronics, including smart displays. Shop the best Prime Day 2019 deals across tech, home, kitchen, and more. The Insider Picks team will be updating this list frequently.
Smart home hubs are going through a transition. Gone are the days when owning a smart home hub meant having a small plastic square that lived next to your internet router. These days, hubs often come in one of two form factors: a smart speaker or a smart display. Plenty of smart displays have been released over the past few years, and they’re getting better and better, so there are now quite a few great options.
Smart displays can come in handy for a ton of different reasons. For starters, they can be used to control your smart home and offer visual, on-screen controls. On top of that, they can show you things like the weather and upcoming appointments that you might have on your calendar. You can pull up the latest photos from friends and family. You can also use a smart display to video chat with your friends and family, as well as play video from select services.
There are a number of things to consider when buying a smart display. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is your smart home ecosystem. If you’re set up with an Android phone and devices connected to the Google Home app, then you’re going to want a smart display that uses Google and controls Google devices. If, instead, your home is set up with Alexa and Alexa-compatible devices, then you’ll want a display that has Alexa built into it. Sorry, Apple users, there’s no Apple-branded smart display yet (although plenty of users have turned old iPads into one), but all of the devices on this list have iOS apps.
Currently, no smart displays are compatible with all the popular streaming services, and it varies in terms of the services that are supported. Google smart displays can stream YouTube videos and stream some other video content from your phone with the Cast function, while Amazon smart displays can stream Prime Video and Hulu shows and movies. Most can pull tunes from Spotify and Pandora. However, both ecosystems are working to increase the number of streaming partners available on their smart displays.
There are other things to keep in mind, too. For example, you’ll want to think about how big of a display you want, whether you want a device with a camera for video chatting, and how much you want to spend.
Before you buy a smart display, you may want to read our smart speaker buying guide to learn about what they can do, the devices they support, and a note on privacy concerns — all of these things apply to smart displays, too.
Here are the best smart displays you can buy:
- Best Alexa smart display overall: Amazon Echo Show
- Best Google Assistant smart display overall: Lenovo Smart Display
- Best sounding Google Assistant smart display: JBL Link View
- Best budget Alexa smart display: Amazon Echo Show 5
- Best budget Google Assistant smart display: Google Nest Hub
Updated on 07/09/2019 by Les Shu: Updated prices, links, and formatting. Replaced Amazon Echo Spot with the Amazon Echo Show 5 as our budget Alexa smart display.
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.
The best Alexa smart display overall
The Amazon Echo Show features a nice, large screen with stereo speakers, plus it can stream videos, control your smart home, show weather forecasts, and display your calendar.
If you’re looking for a smart display in the Amazon ecosystem, then look no further than the second-generation Amazon Echo Show. It has a nice big screen with a high resolution, decent speakers, and it can do a ton of stuff.
The 10.1-inch screen has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, which is a good enough resolution for a screen of this size. Sure, it’s not a 4K resolution, but you’re probably not going to be watching 4K movies on the device anyway. Another thing that sets this smart display apart from others is that it has stereo speakers instead of a mono speaker, so it should sound quite a bit better than most of the other options.
As an Alexa device, the speaker can take advantage of all of Alexa’s skills. You can ask Alex to control your smart home devices with your voice, to buy things on Amazon, to answer questions, to show you the weather, and to play video content from Hulu or Prime Video. You can also touch the screen to adjust controls with your fingers if you prefer, as well as browse the web on the screen.
So what are the downsides? Well, while the audio is powerful on the speaker, the frequency response is a little sculpted, which won’t appeal to everyone. It’s also a little pricier than some of the other smart displays. Still, despite those downsides the Echo Show has gotten great reviews. PCMag scored it 4 out of 5, and it has an average rating of 4.4 stars on Amazon.
Pros: Nice display, stereo speakers, highly functional
Cons: A little pricey, sculpted sound
Buy the Amazon Echo Show on Amazon for $229.99
The best Google Assistant smart display overall
The Lenovo Smart Display uses the Google Assistant for voice controls, works seamlessly with Google services like Maps and YouTube, plus it offers a great screen and a nice design.
If your home is connected to Google’s ecosystem and you use an Android phone, Gmail, YouTube, or Google Maps and Calendar, then we recommend the 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display. The device comes in two models, including an 8-inch version and a 10-inch version, but if you want the best overall experience, the 10-inch version is the way to go.
The Smart Display has quite a nice screen with a high resolution of 1,920 pixels x 1,200 pixels, which is better than what you’ll find on most other smart displays. The screen also offers nice, bright colors and vivid images. You can watch YouTube videos, use YouTube TV for live shows, and stream video from a few other services.
Under the display, the Lenovo Smart Display is pretty powerful, thanks to the smarts of the Google Assistant. You can control most popular smart home devices with your voice, and it supports standards like Google Cast, so you can play media from your other devices on the display. Last but not least, the Smart Display is relatively stylish and well-designed with a nice bamboo backing and a speaker to one side.
Perhaps the main downside to the Lenovo Smart Display is the fact that the audio performance isn’t the best. The bass response isn’t overly strong, and the audio doesn’t get that loud.
Still, audio performance aside, the Smart Display has gotten pretty good reviews. We even preferred it over the original Echo Show, largely because of the ability to use Google’s great apps like Maps, calendar, and YouTube. Tom’s Guide gave it a 4 out of 5, while CNET gave it an even better 4.5 out of 5.
Pros: Nice design, great display, smart features
Cons: Audio performance could be better
Read our full review of the Lenovo Smart Display
The best sounding Google Assistant smart display
The JBL Link View is smart and has a relatively high-quality display, but the best thing about it is its excellent audio performance.
If audio performance is important to you, and you want a Google-powered smart display, then the JBL Link View is the one for you.
The Link View is only the latest in a line of great smart devices in JBL’s Link smart speaker series. It comes with an 8-inch screen with an HD resolution, plus it comes pre-loaded with the Google Assistant, which is arguably the best digital assistant out there.
Perhaps the best thing about the JBL Link View, however, is its audio performance. The Link View boasts a deep and powerful bass response, well-tuned mids, and relatively clear and detailed high-end. It would be nice to have been able to adjust the EQ of the speaker, but most people will be perfectly happy with the frequency response that it offers anyway.
You can put those speakers to work for multiple things, too — the Link View comes with a robust recipe system that makes it perfect for the kitchen.
There are some downsides to the JBL Link View. At $249.99, it is one of the more expensive smart displays on this list, and the display is a little smaller than others. Despite those issues, however, the Link View has gotten some pretty great reviews — CNET gave it 4 out of 5, while Digital Trends gave it a still excellent 7 out of 10.
Pros: High-quality display, good audio performance, nice smart features
Cons: A little expensive, actual display could be bigger
Buy the JBL Link View on Best Buy for $249.99
The best budget Alexa smart display
The Amazon Echo Show 5 costs less than $100 but it has many of the same features as our best overall pick for Alexa and a compact design that makes it suitable for bedside use.
Looking for an Alexa-powered smart display on a budget? The Amazon Echo Show 5 replaces our previous favorite, the Amazon Echo Spot, because it’s cheaper and more useful, although, admittedly, it’s not as cute. The device is smaller than our overall Alexa pick, the bigger Amazon Echo Show, but it is sleek and has many of the same features as its bigger brother — and more than what the Echo Spot offers. The Echo Show 5 is also ideal for a small space like on your nightstand, serving as an alarm clock.
The Echo Show 5 has a 5.5-inch screen (960 x 480 resolution) inside a rectangle casing that measures 5.8 x 3.4 x 2.9 inches, and weighs 14.5 pounds. It’s compact enough to use in the bedroom or kitchen. Heck, put it in the bathroom and we don’t think it will look out of place.
You can use the device to control your smart home, ask Alexa questions, and connect it to other apps and services. Alexa continues to get smarter, too, so the device will likely gain more features as time goes on. Unlike the bigger Echo Show, the camera in the Echo Show 5 has a lower resolution (1 megapixel vs. 5), so your video calls won’t look as crisp on the receiver’s end. What we do like is that you can enable a built-in shutter for privacy, as well as turning off the mics. Hate the sound quality? Just connect an audio cable from the device to an external speaker of your liking.
Most expert reviewers give the product a high rating. CNET gave it 4 stars (out of 5), calling it “a solid smart display that’s particularly compelling as a smart alarm clock.” But Digital Trends said, “[It] is so much more than a smart alarm clock,” giving it also 4 stars. PCMag and The Verge also approve, but Wired gave it a mediocre score, saying the “smaller screen robs it of some of the magic inherent in the larger Echo Show” and that Alexa isn’t as good as Google Assistant.
Pros: Compact design, feature-rich, user-friendly, affordable
Cons: Low-quality speaker and camera, low-resolution display
Buy the Amazon Echo Show 5 on Amazon for $89.99
The best budget Google Assistant smart display
The Google Nest Hub integrates perfectly with the Google Assistant and other Google services, plus it has a nice-sized screen and isn’t overly expensive.
There are some nice budget Google-powered smart displays, too, like the Google Nest Hub. The Google Home is a serious bargain for what it offers. It comes with a 7-inch screen that can show weather, maps, news, YouTube videos, and more. Plus, it has the Google Assistant to control your smart home and answer questions.
As you would expect from a Google-powered smart display, the Google Nest Hub is largely built around allowing you to control your smart home. It offers a quick view for easy access to all the smart home devices that you have set up, and it connects with Nest devices very well.
Our senior editor Malarie Gokey uses the Google Nest Hub every day at home to catch up on news briefings in the morning and get alerts about the weather and potential delays on her subway commute. She also loves the YouTube integration when it comes time to call up video recipes while cooking.
The Hub also serves as a great clock, as you can have it display the time all day long and use it as an alarm clock. The display automatically adjusts to the right brightness level based on the amount of light in the room, so it automatically turns off at night when you shut off the lights.
There are a few downsides to the hub. For example, while the display is pretty big for a device this big, the resolution isn’t as high in pixels as others, coming in at 1,024 x 600 pixels. On top of that, the device’s speaker is perfectly fine for talking to Google, but it probably won’t be your go-to for music playing. There’s also no built-in camera, and while that may be good for privacy, it also means you can’t make video calls.
Still, despite the downsides, the Google Nest Hub has gotten excellent reviews. TechRadar gave the device 4 out of 5, while CNET gave it an even better 4.5 out of 5.
Note: Google also has a larger version of this product, called the Google Nest Hub Max. While it has similar features, design, and user interface, the Max has a larger, high-definition screen (10 inches), better audio (2.1-channel sound), and a camera for video calls and home surveillance. It’s also physically bigger, of course, and it costs $229. Is it better? Only if you have use for the added features, but otherwise, the Nest Hub is still a great buy.
Pros: Nice display size, powerful smart home control, Google Assistant, affordable
Cons: Display resolution isn’t great, audio performance could be better, no camera for video calls