This startup is combining the Google Home with a touchscreen and a smart home hub.
Google's rumored competitor to the Amazon Echo Show hasn't yet come to fruition, so a startup called Lynky is taking it upon itself to fill the gap. The device -- also called Lynky -- combines a 5-inch touchscreen with two far-field microphones for voice commands, and it has the Google Assistant built-in. Like a Google Home combined with a tablet combined with a smart home hub, the Lynky either sits on your desk, or mounts on your wall in place of a light switch.
The Lynky makes its debut on Indiegogo on Tuesday, and you'll supposedly be able to use the device just like Google's smart speaker, the Google Home . The Lynky uses the same digital assistant, simply called Google Assistant. Give a voice command and you can play music, access your calendar, search the web or control your smart home .
Like the Amazon Echo Show, the Lynky combines the functionality of a voice assistant with a touchscreen. The Echo Show offered all of the functionality of the original Echo -- a competitor to Google Home -- thanks to Amazon's assistant Alexa, and allowed you to make video calls. Unlike the Echo Show, the Lynky's screen will focus more on smart home assistance than video calls as the device doesn't have a built-in camera.
Unlike the Google Home, you also can't make voice calls with Lynky, as that's one of the limits Google puts on third-party devices with its Assistant built in. What you can do is use Lynky as your smart home hub, as it comes with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee built-in.
Smart lightbulbs, smart locks and small smart sensors for your doors and windows frequently don't talk directly to your router, as signaling with Wi-Fi takes a lot of battery. These devices communicate with a specialized frequency such as Zigbee and need a bridge to translate their message to send it to the cloud. The Lynky will act as that bridge for a variety of devices, so you won't need to buy a separate hub for your motion sensors or smart bulbs.
You'll be able to control compatible devices with your voice via the Google Assistant. You'll also be able to control them with the touchscreen and set up scenes to control multiple devices with a single touch.
Supposedly, different Lynky devices can communicate with each other -- so you can set up devices with your bedroom Lynky, and control them from another unit in the kitchen. Alternatively, in a nice extra, you can limit the access of a device -- so a guest room Lynky can be limited to controlling just the guest room smart devices.
Lynky has a list of compatible smart home devices on the company's Indiegogo page. You'll be able to use the Lynky as a hub for devices from these companies, but hopefully you can also control devices from Google's larger list of smart home partners. The Google Assistant has its own smart home setup process through the Google Home app. I'd hope the Lynky can seamlessly integrate with these settings. Lynky is supposedly working on making this sync up possible.
The Lynky will launch with an open platform, so smart home developers will theoretically have an easy time working with it. It'll also work with online-rule maker IFTTT and its numerous smart home partners.
Other than smart home controls, the Lynky looks to be underusing its touchscreen, as it doesn't appear that you can install other apps, watch videos, or generally use the Lynky as a tablet. Given its price, limited touchscreen functionality is understandable if a bit disappointing.
You can preorder the Lynky via its Indiegogo campaign now. The preorder price is a reasonable $100, which roughly converts to £75 or AU$130 for our readers in the UK and Australia. Preorders will start shipping at the beginning of 2018. At retail, the Lynky will still be an affordable $150 (about £110 or AU$200).
As always, please note that CNET's reporting on crowdfunding campaigns is not an endorsement of the project or its creators. Before contributing to any campaign, read the crowdfunding site's policies -- in this case, Indiegogo -- to find out your rights (and refund policies, or the lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.
Lynky might not have the video-calling features of the Amazon Echo Show, but I still like the idea of a Google Home with a touchscreen, and throwing a smart home hub into that combination is a nice touch.