Waking up to a classic loud twin bell alarm is something every 90s kid will resonate with. Although now my iPhone wakes me up every morning, I still miss the charm of an old-fashioned analog alarm clock. For those like me, who miss the conventional alarm clock, Lenovo has a solution: Smart Clock Essential. The device takes reference from an old school alarm clock, but gives it a modern twist with a built-in smart speaker and Google Assistant. Nostalgia, unsurprisingly, is high with the Essential though it is very modern in everything it does.
I spent a few weeks with the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential. Here’s what I think about a Google-powered alarm clock.
Lenovo Smart Clock Essential price in India (as reviewed): Rs 4499
Lenovo Smart Clock Essential review: Inspired by old school alarm clocks
The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential looks like one of those digital clock radios that can be found online. Of course, this is a smart alarm clock that doubles as a smart speaker with Google Assistant — but with an LED display. There is no colour display and instead, the device uses a white alphanumeric 4-inch LED display which I found to be bright both day and night. By the way, it has an Ambient Sensor, which automatically dims the display when it gets darker in the bedroom. Sure, it’s not a touch screen but I liked the display, which shows the time, day of the week, and outside temperature. Once you set up an alarm, a small icon will show up on the screen.
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The Smart Clock measures 2.5×4.8×3.3 inches and weighs 328 grams. The side of the device is covered with a grey fabric, reminiscent of expensive smart displays from Google. The top surface has four physical buttons (volume down, volume up, play/pause, and alarm) on the front. The back of the clock has a white LED light ring which acts as a nightlight, a physical slider to turn off the microphone of the Google Assistant, a USB connection to charge smartphones or tablets, and a power connection.
The presence of a nightstand is an interesting feature in my opinion. You can turn on the nightstand by pressing and holding the volume-down button or through your voice. It is also possible to adjust the brightness of the nightstand through your voice.
Lenovo Smart Clock Essential review: Setup and Google Assistant
Setting up the Smart Clock Essential is easy. On unboxing the device, find a location where you want to keep the alarm clock. Plug the device into the outlet, download the Google Home app on your Android or iPhone. Now, log in to your Google account or create a new account. After logging into the account in the Google Home app, tap the plus sign at the top left corner, and select ‘Setup device.’ When the clock is found, you have to go for a voice match so that Google Assistant can recognise you. Once the setup process is complete, the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is ready to use.
Obviously, being a Google-powered alarm clock, it gives access to Google Assistant. Just like Nest Mini, Lenovo’s Smart Clock Essential gives you full access to Google Assistant, the voice-based digital assistant similar to Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri. Not only can you control the clock through your voice but you can also ask the assistant for the latest news stories, get an update on the weather, play music from various music streaming services, listen to podcasts, and control the home. “Hey Google, play Billie Eilish on Spotify”, for example. Don’t worry, you can also stream music over Bluetooth or through Google Cast.
Lenovo Smart Clock Essential review: Setting the alarm
The real reason why anyone would be interested in buying this thing is to set an alarm before they go to bed. To set an alarm you can either use your voice using Google Assistant or use the physical buttons on top of the clock. While I never had a problem using my voice to set an alarm, I did find it a bit hard to use the physical alarm button. It’s not intuitive at all, though the saving grace is the voice commands. I can set an alarm using my voice, customise it, and even set a specific time to snooze it. I really liked the option to play a specific music playlist as your alarm. When the alarm sounds, tap the top part of the clock or simply say “Stop” (there is no need to use wake words like “Hey, Google” or “Ok, Google”) to shut the alarm.
Lenovo Smart Clock Essential review: Audio quality
The Smart Clock Essential doubles as a smart speaker. The device has a 1.5-inch, 3-watt speaker. Vocals are clear, and the Google Assistant voice comes clear. That said, this is a tiny speaker and thus cannot offer the same quality as a proper-sounding speaker. The speaker lacks bass, but the sound coming from it isn’t terrible. In fact, it’s loud enough to listen to music in the morning or any part of the day.
Lenovo Smart Clock Essential review: Should you buy it?
The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential aims to modernise an alarm clock we know for ages, and it works. But don’t expect too much from this device, as it lacks a proper smart display. In my opinion, Lenovo is trying to make a traditional alarm clock “smart” by integrating Google Assistant with a smart speaker and a nice LED screen. It’s essentially an alarm clock that can be operated using your voice. For Rs 4,499, this “smart” alarm clock isn’t a bad option, given it boasts an okay-ish little speaker, Google Assistant smarts, and the night light on the back