Lenovo's Home Assistant dock adds Alexa to your Tab 4 tablet

Slip a Lenovo Tab 4 tablet into this speaker dock, and it looks and works a lot like Amazon's Echo Show.

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Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
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Dan Ackerman
2 min read

Alexa has already broken free of Amazon's branded Echo speakers, and you can find the smart assistant in new or coming-soon devices such as the Triby radio, Lenovo Smart Assistant and LG InstaView.

Now Lenovo adds another compatible device to the list with the Home Assistant Pack, which connects Lenovo Tab 4 tablets (8-inch or 10-inch) to an Echo-like speaker. When docked, by sliding the tablet into a groove on the side of the speaker, the tablet screen becomes a status window for Alexa. It's similar to, but not as in-depth as what you see on the Echo Show.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The cylindrical 3-watt speaker includes two far-field microphones (versus seven in Amazon's original Echo) and listens for the familiar "Alexa" wake-up command. In a brief hands-on test, the speaker responded well to Alexa voice commands, including playing music, offering a weather report, answering questions and streaming a radio station. Audio quality via the built-in 3-watt speaker was better suited to news than music.

The visuals are provided by a custom Lenovo app, which needs to be downloaded to the Tab 4 tablet (we haven't had a chance to test it yet, but Lenovo says the app-and-dock combo will only work for Tab 4 tablets ). 

Asking for the weather put a basic weather report up on the screen, and it shows the title and artist when playing songs. But there were no read-along lyrics or TV and movie playback, as on the Echo Show.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Even though it's lacking some of the features of the $229 Echo Show, the Lenovo Home Assistant has a much more reasonable price. It'll be $69 in the US when it's released in October, plus the cost of a Tab 4 tablet, around $150. Pricing and availability for other regions is still be announced, but the Assistant roughly converts to £50 or AU$85.