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Smart Home

Lenovo's new Smart Display 7 looks a lot like the Google Nest Hub, and that's OK

The 7-inch touchscreen gadget with Google Assistant built-in took notes from the popular Google Nest Hub.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Lenovo already has a smart display with a 10-inch screen and one with an 8-inch screen. It also has the Lenovo Smart Clock, a smaller 4-inch version for your bedside with less functionality and no camera. Now the company is trying to hit the sweet spot between a full-sized smart display and a petite bedside model with the Lenovo Smart Display 7.

The Lenovo Smart Display 7 will have the same features as the 8- and 10-inch models, including a built-in video camera. It has Google Assistant, so it will respond to the same voice commands as smart speakers like the Google Home Mini. The touchscreen will show extra info after you ask certain questions. For example, search for the weather and you'll see a forecast. Ask for a recipe and you'll see the directions broken down by step. 

More from IFA: Google's new Ambient Mode lets you turn a Lenovo Tablet into a smart display.

Beyond what the previous models could do, the Smart Display 7 has an RGB sensor that will allow it to adapt the screen image to the color quality of the room. The Google Nest Hub (formerly the Google Home Hub) uses a similar feature to great effect that helps it excel as a digital photo frame. That popular smart display also has a 7-inch touchscreen, so Lenovo is following Google's example closely with this new model. The Smart Display 7 will cost $130, the same as the retail price of the Nest Hub, though the latter is often on sale for much less.

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The Nest Hub doesn't have a camera, however, and the Lenovo Smart Display 7 does. You'll be able to use it for video chats and you can slide a physical shutter over the lens if you want extra privacy. That camera won't have some of the more advanced features of the upcoming Google Nest Hub Max, which also features gesture controls, but it does help it stand out from the Nest Hub a little.

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The Lenovo Smart Display 7 has a camera with a physical shutter. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Lenovo's 7-inch smart display will also look to improve on the sound quality of older models. Instead of relegating the speakers to one side, the two 5-watt speakers now sit along the bottom and will provide stereo sound. According to a Lenovo representative, they sound even better than the speakers of the 10-inch model, which had significantly better sound quality than the Nest Hub. We only got a brief chance to listen to the speakers in action during our demo at the IFA tech conference in Berlin, and the music was indeed crisp. I couldn't tell in the hotel room where Lenovo hosted me if the audio quality from the new display was a significant step up from its predecessor.

At a glance, Lenovo's Smart Display 7 might have trouble standing out from the increasingly competitive field of smart displays. That said, it could prove to be a viable alternative to the Nest Hub if it's similar in most ways but has better sound quality and a camera. 

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