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Lenovo Smart Clock 2 review: A better smart alarm clock, but still not the best

The Google Assistant-enabled smart clock is back with more features.

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Molly Price/CNET

Just when you think you've seen every species of smart display out there, new ones show up. Verizon is reportedly working on its own smart display. New Echo Shows appear seemingly annually in various shapes and sizes. Now, Lenovo is returning to the smart display market with a new generation of its Smart Clock, powered by Google Assistant

The adorable Lenovo Smart Clock 2 adds just enough new features to make it interesting, but at $90 it's too pricey to recommend. Wireless charging, a new nightlight feature and multiple color options are welcome improvements, but not enough to justify that hefty price. The slightly larger, but still camera-free Nest Hub (2nd gen) offers many more features including third-party camera streaming, video streaming and sleep sensing (if you're into that), all for just $10 more than Lenovo's clock. The Smart Clock 2 won't be available internationally, but $90 converts to roughly £70 or AU$130. 

7.8

Lenovo Smart Clock 2

Like

  • Nightlight feature
  • Wireless charging dock
  • New color

Don't Like

  • Still can't stream from third-party cams
  • No video streaming
  • Expensive

What's new

Though the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 looks similar to its predecessor, the changes for this generation are design-based. The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is now available in three colors, shadow black, heather gray and abyss blue. That's one additional hue than the previous model.

The display itself is taller, with a thicker base. That's because the base is designed to dock into another new feature: a wireless charging pad. It's a defensible move especially for a device squarely aimed at being a bedside clock. Charging stations are great ways to wrangle all your tech neatly on your nightstand, and I applaud Lenovo for the effort. This specific dock offers 10 watts of fast charging, as well as a USB-A port on the back of the pad for plugging in other accessories. 

The dock looks nice and is just big enough to charge an average phone without taking up unnecessary real estate on your nightstand. I used it to charge my Galaxy S21 without any issues. I do wish these two items, the charger and actual smart display, were sold individually. For now, you're limited to buying the bundle.

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Molly Price/CNET

Maybe the cleverest of the charging dock is the built-in nightlight. A ring on the charging pad at the base of the display illuminates via voice command on from an on-screen menu. It's one of those thoughtful details that makes an already useful device that much more helpful. I much prefer this to the on-screen nightlight that's also available from the settings menu.  

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Molly Price/CNET

What stayed the same

Beyond those small but thoughtful design changes, the Lenovo Smart Clock remains much the same. It's still powered by Google Assistant for voice commands around your smart home, playing music from your preferred streaming service and answering general knowledge queries.

As it is marketed as an alarm clock, Lenovo kept the tactile tap-to-snooze feature we enjoyed on the original model. The microphones and speakers are all the same, as well and you'll get the same 4-inch (480x800-pixel) LCD display as before. While it's sensible to adhere to the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage, there are a few things I wish Lenovo had addressed this go round.

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Molly Price/CNET

What's missing

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 fills a specific gap for a specific segment of smart home owners. It's for folks who want a smart display smaller than what Google currently offers in the 7-inch Nest Hub, but who don't need to, say, watch YouTube videos or view camera and doorbell feeds from other brands. They also need to be cool with paying nearly as much as the more capable Nest Hub. That's where I jump ship. 

If the Smart Clock 2 could pull up my YouTube subscriptions, I'd like it. If it could stream video from my doorbells and cameras not made by Nest, I'd love it. If the price were lower, I'd be thrilled. 

Those capabilities could show up in future updates. The price could drop someday, too. However, as it stands right now, it's hard for me to recommend over a Nest Hub and a separate wireless charging station. 

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Molly Price/CNET

The Echo Show 5 is currently priced at $55, and is a sensible bedside size of just over 5 inches. You need to be on team Alexa for that purchase to make sense, but if you can't decide which voice assistant to go with, it's absolutely more for your money.