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Best smart display 2021: Top 5 displays compared

We've hand-picked five smart displays that will satisfy a range of wants and needs.

Smart displays are a hands-free and convenient way of checking the weather, watching a video, talking to loved ones via a video call, or playing games. They're better equipped to be a smart device that's the center of your kitchen island, or on the shelf in the living room, where you can quickly turn lights on or off or enable a preset scene when you go to bed. 

Or if you'd rather not get too carried away, you can just use it to ask random trivia questions and play music. We won't judge you either way. 

We've hand-picked five smart displays that will satisfy a range of wants and needs. We first looked at all the top brands, then combed through all the listings at different price points across several retailers, absorbed what the user reviews had to say, and, ultimately, landed on this bunch, which we believe are among the absolute best smart displays you can buy online.

Amazon Echo Show 10

This Echo can actually follow you around the room.

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Amazon

Display: 10.1-inch 1290 x 800 Cameras: 13-megapixel Smart Assistant: Alexa Dimensions: 9.9 x 9 x 6.7-inches Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 


The Amazon Echo Show 10 may look familiar, but don't be fooled: It's packed full of new features that are sure to impress. For example, the 10.1-inch display sits on a rotating base that can turn the screen to follow you as you walk through the room. It's a convenient feature that will keep you in the frame during a video call, let you watch a Netflix show as you wander around or walk across the kitchen and view a recipe.

At $250, it's not the most affordable Echo, but it has enough smarts to justify the price. In addition to the swivel base, it boasts a 13MP camera and it doubles as a smart home hub to keep all of your smart home gadgets connected. 

Amazon Echo Show 8

Best Alexa smart display for under $150

echoshow8.jpg

Display: 8-inch Cameras: 13-megapixels with auto-framing Smart Assistant: Alexa Dimensions:  7.9 x 5.4 x 3.9-inch Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 


The Echo Show 8 is an impressive device. It checks just about every box you'd want for a smart display. It has Amazon's Alexa AI assistant built-in, so it works with smart home devices like the Ring Video Doorbell. It also has an 8-inch HD screen with 1280 x 800-pixel resolution, a 1MP front-facing video camera, and a built-in stereo sound with two 2-inch speakers. You can use the Echo Show 8 to video call friends or family using either another Echo Show or the Alexa app.

If you're nervous about letting Amazon have a camera and a mic in your home, you can always disconnect the two far-field microphones with the press of a button, plus the camera comes with a built-in shutter for privacy.

Google Nest Hub Max

Best smart display for Google Assistant

nesthubmax.jpg

Display: 10-inch Cameras: 6.5-megapixels Smart Assistant: Google Assistant Dimensions: 9.85 x 
7.19 x 3.99-inches Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0


The "best smart display" depends on you and what devices you already have in your home. 

If you want devices that are compatible and work seamlessly together, the Nest Hub Max might not be the best choice if you've already invested in the Amazon ecosystem of Alexa, Echo, and Ring devices. But, if you're already using an Android phone and prefer Google Assistant over Alexa, try the Nest Hub Max. 

There are two reasons it's worth considering: It has a large 10-inch screen, and it offers a superior sound quality thanks to stereo speakers at the front and a 3-inch subwoofer at the back. The Nest Hub Max also has two microphones, and the selfie camera features a 6.5MP sensor. While the device doesn't come with a physical camera cover, the camera and mics can be disconnected via a button on the rear of the Nest Hub Max. 

We like that you can call Google's smart display using another Nest Hub device, the Duo app, or Google Assistant. Another nifty feature is Face Match. Basically, it will surface relevant information on the screen depending on who's looking at it -- so one person might see the weather, while another might get sports.

Facebook Portal Plus

Facebook's latest smart display

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Image: Facebook

Display: 14-inch Cameras: 12-megapixels Smart Assistant: Alexa  Dimensions: 9.87 x 12.31 x 3.86-inches Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.1


Yes, we'll admit no one really wants to let Meta, formerly known as Facebook, put a mic and a camera in their home -- except maybe grandma and grandpa. Admit it... They love Facebook! 

With that in mind, perhaps the best way to video chat with them will be over Messenger using one of Facebook's smart displays, such as the recently revamped Portal Plus that features a large 14-inch display that tilts and adjusts for the ideal viewing angle.  

Facebook has expanded the video calling features of the Portal line beyond Messenger, adding WhatsApp and Zoom to the list of supported platforms. 

The Portal Plus is Alexa compatible, allowing you to control devices around your home or use it as you would any other Echo device. And if you really want to embrace Meta's platform, the Portal has its own AI you can summon with "Hey Portal."

Portal Plus stands out to us because of its smart camera. The lens is a 12MP sensor with a 131-degree field of view. It will automatically follow people around the room, shifting to either focus on a speaker or to include all the faces in the room. It's also capable of amplifying your voice from across the room. 

Facebook is also well aware of its public perception, so it included a handy little cover for the camera and made it possible to disconnect the four microphones in the device by pressing a button on top.

Lenovo Smart Display 7

The latest smart display from Lenovo

lenovo7.jpg

Display: 7-inch Cameras: 2-megapixels Smart Assistant: Google Assistant Dimensions: 6.93 x 3.27 x 6.10-inches Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0 


This version of Lenovo's Smart Display is a welcome addition to Lenovo's Smart Display offering. It arguably looks better than Google's own Nest displays, and works just the same. Using the display, you get to control Google Assistant and all the services connected to your Google account.

Lenovo's Smart Display brings much of the same functionality as the Smart Display 8 and 10 models. However, it can't be rotated into portrait mode. It also has a 7-inch touchscreen display. To complement that, you get a front-facing 2MP camera with a built-in shutter, two 1.5-inch 5W speakers, and dual-array microphones. 

Basically, the Smart Display 7 is the slightly smaller but newer version of the Smart Display 8. 

Which smart display is right for you?

When trying to decide which smart display is the right pick for you, the decision essentially boils down to which company you trust the most. Remember, all of these displays not only have an always-on microphone, but they also have a camera. That doesn't mean the companies listed here -- Amazon, Facebook or Google -- have abused that privilege, but it's something to consider. 

If you're comfortable with all of that, then I recommend basing your decision off of which platform you'll use the most for video calls. If you plan on calling a lot of family members or friends who are on Facebook, a Portal makes the most sense. If most of your family has Android devices, a Nest Hub display is a solid choice. The same goes for Echo devices -- Alexa's calling features are fantastic between fellow Echo users. 

How we selected these smart displays

We spent a lot of time combing through user reviews, professional reviews and relied on our own personal experience with some of these devices to come up with the list seen above. We've personally tested a lot of smart displays, including some of those on this list to help us make an educated decision about which displays made the cut.