Choosing a smart display that’s right for you

Choosing a smart display that’s right for you
As the market pioneer, the Amazon Alexa-powered Echo Show has defined the basic format for smart display devices that have followed.

The Echo Show can display information requested via voice assistant, including traffic and weather conditions.

The screen also allows users to watch videos on streaming platforms and view photos saved on the cloud, as well as bring up live feeds from security cameras.

With the help of an embedded camera, users can make hands-free video calls.

The second-generation Echo Show costs US$230 and supports over 50,000 Alexa voice commands. For those looking for a more affordable Alexa device, French company Archos recently released two smart display products retailing at $129 and $149.

While the Echo Show was the market pioneer, Google Assistant powered devices, including the Google Home Hub, provide a number of extra features.

For example, when users ask Google Assistant for traffic and route information, the route appears on Google Maps. When users ask for schedules and emails, Google Calendar and Gmail will be displayed. It also has the Home View dashboard, allowing users to control various smart home devices by scrolling down from the top of the screen.

Although third-party devices running Google Assistant allow for video calling, the Google Home Hub does not feature a camera, with Google pointing to privacy concerns as the reason.

Google Home Hub costs $149, while prices of third-party products made by LG, Lenovo and JBL range from $200 to $250.

There are a number of options for those looking for either a non-Alexa or Google Assistant-powered device, or just one that offers a choice of platforms.

Brilliant, a California-based smart home startup, has introduced the Brilliant Light Switch, a controller that combines a physical light switch with a touch screen. The device supports Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings and Nest among others and retails at $300.

“Smart displays make control easier, as many provide visual feedback in addition to voice. Brilliant takes it a step further by putting control of your devices and scenes right on the display, which is simpler and more direct,” said Aaron Emigh, the CEO of Brilliant.

Another startup, Atmos Home, has the same goal. Its AtmosControl hub is designed to be installed in walls, and lets users control home devices through intuitive icons on a 7-inch touchscreen. It incorporates five wireless protocols and supports several smart home platforms and products.

“Touch and voice control gestures will become a significant factor as you can’t always carry around a phone or speak control commands in a noisy room, parties or a raucous football game,” said Mark Lyle, the CEO and Co-Founder of Atmos Home.

Professional smart home system provider ELAN has introduced the Intelligent Touch Panel. The control center supports Alexa and Google Assistant.

Although new manufacturers are pouring into the smart display market, Blake Kozak, Principal Analyst at IHS Markit, said the current $200-plus retail price would see some homeowners wait for prices to drop before purchasing a device, given entry-level smart speakers only cost around $50.

Kozak said another challenge was market saturation: “While it is possible and expected that homes will have multiple voice assistants for different purposes, having multiple displays in the kitchen, on the counter and then possibly a television, will require customers to start choosing an ecosystem.”


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