What are the best smart displays?
It was only a matter of time before smart device manufacturers took the smart speaker concept and introduced a screen.
Enter the smart display, which includes all the voice activation functionality of the best smart speakers and throws in a screen for good measure.
Smart displays offer a range of great features, which makes them a worthwhile upgrade from smart speakers, with the visual display coming in handy for a wide range of uses.
Weather and news reports can be shown on screen, while your favorite music playlists can be ramped up with the introduction of karaoke-style lyrics so that you can sing along to your heart’s content.
You can also use the best smart displays to stream movies and TV shows, and while the screen sizes don’t compare to a regular television when you’re cooking in the kitchen or lounging in bed, they’re more than enough to keep you entertained.
Of course, being “smart” means they’re set up to work with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to help you control your home and activate a range of smart home devices using voice commands.
If you’re after a compact smart display for the bedroom to replace your old alarm clock or would prefer a large display with a rotating display to keep you in the picture at all times, this guide will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
The Best Smart Displays Compared
Our tech lists are created by researching the best-reviewed products from the most reputable web sources.
Here’s our list of the 5 best smart displays:
In A Rush? Here’s Our Top Pick:
5. Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen)
We’re kicking off this list of the best smart displays with the cutest entry on the list: Amazon’s 2nd generation Echo Show.
With just a 5-inch screen, this is the smallest display in the selection, which makes it ideal to go on the bedside cabinet to upgrade your existing alarm clock into something far more versatile.
As well as being able to set alarms and timers, the Echo Show 5 offers the range of features you’d expect to find from an Amazon smart speaker.
These include using voice commands to get information about the weather or pull up recipes, changing the music on your streaming service of choice, or getting the latest news updates.
It even has a neat little camera, so if you want to make video calls from your bed (or wherever else you end up installing it), this won’t be a problem.
Netflix and Prime Video are among the video streaming services available, too, although if you’re planning on watching lots of films, you may want to upgrade to a smart display that boasts a larger screen.
A feature-rich smart display that offers the full scope of a virtual assistant combined with a neat screen.
The Amazon Echo Show 5 is far more than just a smart clock and is the best smart display for those looking to expand their smart home set-up into their bedroom.
- Great price
- Privacy shutter
- Home monitoring option
- Decent speaker considering the size
- It lacks an audio jack
- Smart home integration could be better
4. Facebook Portal Plus
It was perhaps only a matter of time before Facebook took the plunge into the smart display market.
Their Facebook Portal Plus smart display immediately impresses with its 15.6” touch screen display, which users can mount in either landscape or portrait orientation using the accompanying stand.
Indeed, this large display makes it one of the best smart displays for video calls, which you can use the Portal Plus for on a variety of services, including Messenger, WhatsApp, and Zoom.
The built-in smart camera can pan and zoom as you move around the room and make sure you stay in the frame, and all the other features you’d expect from a smart display are here as well.
Facebook’s Portal Plus certainly boasts one of the most immersive video call features of any of the best smart displays.
However, you’ll need to be a Facebook Messenger user to use this device properly, which limits the number of viable customers.
While the high-end video call features may outshine other aspects of the Facebook Portal Plus, this is nevertheless a sturdily constructed smart display which fans of Facebook will relish.
- Great large screen
- Face tracking works well
- Limited compatibility
- Limited functionality
3. Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus
While most smart displays feel like a hybrid between smart speakers and tablets, most of them require a permanent connection to the mains supply, so users are limited to where they can install them.
Lenovo’s Smart TAB M10 Plus bridges this gap by offering a tablet/smart display combination that delivers the best of both worlds.
The Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus boasts a lean design and sharp display, as well as cameras at the front and back for when you’re using it out of its docking bay.
You can connect this to Amazon Alexa, so it functions as a fully-fledged smart display and a portable tablet.
Weather reports, recipes, calendars, and anything else you can think of using a normal smart display for can all be accessed via the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus.
The combination of Jack of all trades-style functionality with its professional design and high-quality speakers makes this a great all-round smart display-cum-tablet.
It also features a kids’ mode, so if you’re looking for a cool device for the little ones, this could be one to consider.
A solid performer with versatile capabilities, the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus brings together the best of both worlds to deliver a solid tablet that fits neatly into its dock and competes with some of the best smart displays available.
- Nice and portable
- Sleek design
- Good price
- Awesome Kids Mode
- Cameras could be better
- Battery life needs improving
2. Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)
Amazon’s mid-tier entry into the smart display market offers an 8-inch screen and improved processing power over the previous generation’s capability, while improvements to the camera mean that your video conference calls will be crisper and clearer than before.
It makes the Amazon Echo Show 8 one of the best value for money smart displays on the market.
As with other Amazon smart displays, you can use the Echo Show 8 to stream music from various streaming services, including Spotify, Amazon Music, or Apple Music, while Prime Video and Netflix are among the video streaming providers you can bring into your home.
Alexa voice commands make controlling your broader smart home device ecosystem much easier.
So, if you’re not using the video display for anything, in particular, you can set it to cycle through your favorite photographs.
While the 2nd generation Amazon Echo Show 8 might not represent a radical upgrade from the previous iteration (and the lack of Zigbee support could limit you in terms of home scheduling and automation), its affordable price and all-round solid performance make it a perfect segue into the smart display arena.
A significantly improved camera combined with a comprehensive range of features makes the Amazon Echo Show 8 a worthwhile purchase for those looking for a quality mid-range smart display, especially if making lots of video calls is your thing.
- Excellent camera
- Attractive price
- Surprisingly good sound quality for its size
- No built-in Zigbee hub
- No 3.5mm jack
1. Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen)
If you’re looking for a feature-rich, high-quality smart display, Amazon’s 3rd generation Echo Show 10 could be for you.
With a 10-inch screen that uses motion tracking to follow you around the room, it’s also the best smart display if you want to keep on track of the display while moving around the kitchen.
The Amazon Echo Show 10’s moving screen might sound a little gimmicky, but its utility is obvious once you put it into action.
Video calls are much more versatile, with the device’s auto-framing making sure you remain front and center.
When you’re not using the camera for calls, it’s also a handy extra layer of home security, allowing you to remotely monitor your home while you’re away.
Amazon’s Echo Show 10 predictably works with Alexa, but it’s also packed with a Zigbee hub, so if you have a wider ecosystem of smart home devices you want to control, you can turn up the heat on your virtual thermostat, adjust your smart lights, or check your security cameras and see if anyone is on your property.
A premium smart display that features a great motorized screen, the Amazon Echo Show 10 represents the pinnacle of Amazon’s smart display engineering, which will look fantastic in any home.
- Moving screen is very handy
- Excellent quality video and audio reproduction
- Built-in Zigbee hub for smart home device control
- Security camera functionality
- A little Expensive
FAQs About Smart Displays
If you’re still wondering exactly what a smart display is — and what they can do — we’ve compiled a selection of handy answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Read on to discover the answers you’re looking for, and if you still have any questions feel free to drop us a comment, and we’ll do what we can to help.
Q: What is a smart display device?
A smart display device is essentially a smart speaker with an additional screen to allow you to view information and hear responses from your virtual assistant.
Most smart displays work with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant and can interact with a broader ecosystem of smart products to allow you full control over your smart home set-up.
Q: What can a smart display do?
Smart displays can perform a wide range of features depending on the model you choose.
Most models allow you to control music and video streaming, access other smart devices in your home and call upon the virtual assistant to answer any questions you might have.
Some of the best smart displays can help boost your home security and carry out video calls with friends and family, and when the display isn’t in use, you can set it to cycle through your photo albums.
You’ll need to make sure your chosen smart display runs the correct virtual assistant for your home.
If you’re already wedded to the Nest ecosystem (owned by Google), then choosing an Amazon-made smart display isn’t going to help when it comes to organizing your device’s schedules and automations.
Likewise, if you have a series of smart devices in your home which require access to a Zigbee hub, you should check to see if the smart display you’re considering has one of these built-in.
If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to use the smart display to control your smart thermostats, smart lights, smart motion sensors, or for that matter, anything else which requires Zigbee compatibility to function.
Q: Can you watch TV on a smart display?
The selection of video streaming services available for smart displays varies from one brand to another, so before purchasing one, you should always check to see what services are compatible.
Some manufacturers are updating their smart displays to improve the range of streaming services available to consumers.
However, you can guarantee that a brand’s proprietary streaming service will be featured on their smart displays, for instance, Amazon Prime on Amazon’s smart displays or YouTube on Google’s Nest series of displays.
With the limitations of screen size, which comes with smart displays, they aren’t ideal for sitting down and binging through full seasons of your favorite television series.
However, if you just want to put something on in the background while you’re preparing dinner, they’re a great choice.
Likewise, if you have kids who want to have a device in their bedroom for watching cartoons, a smart display can be a great purchase since the “smart” features mean that this can also act as an intercom, allowing you to call them when their dinner is ready.
Q: Which smart displays work with Zoom?
As with the availability of video streaming services on a given smart display, you should always check the product information to make sure you can use Zoom voice chats if this is your preferred method of communication.
While some smart displays do feature Zoom (for instance, Facebook’s Portal Plus), there’s no guarantee this will be available on other companies’ models.
Zoom continues to expand the range of products it works on, so it shouldn’t be hard finding one which works for you.
At the time of writing, Zoom can be used on a range of smart displays, including Amazon’s Echo Show, Facebook’s Portal, and the Google Nest Hub Max, as part of Zoom’s Home category.
Q: Which smart display is best?
The answer to this frequently asked question really depends on what you’re looking for from a smart display.
You also need to consider your current smart home set-up so you can make sure your smart display works with your other devices.
If you have a large selection of smart gadgets from a particular brand that requires a specific hub to be able to control them, you’ll need to check to see if the smart display you’re considering will allow you to access them.
Perhaps the first key question to answer when considering the best smart display for you is whether you’re currently using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant since this will largely determine whether the smart display will fit into your existing smart home ecosystem.
Q: Why do I need a smart display?
Since the best smart displays offer an incredibly versatile set of functions, they’re capable of fulfilling most needs.
People familiar with smart speakers will know what to expect in terms of voice commands and using a virtual assistant, but the addition of a visual display expands utility in various ways.
You may need a smart display if you:
- Want to access at-a-glance routines and automations
- Cook and would like to be able to easily view recipes, along with the necessary steps to put the dish together
- Would like to upgrade your alarm clock to bring something with more features to the bedroom
- Make lots of conference calls and would prefer a smart device you don’t have to hold
- Want to watch videos in the background while performing other actions
- Are looking for fuller control of your home and would like a visual representation showing all your smart devices and where they are located around the house
- Want a smart device that doubles up as a nice photo album display capable of finding photos with voice commands
- Need to access maps frequently, for instance, when traveling on business, and only have time over a cup of coffee in the morning to prepare
- Are hard of hearing and appreciate the additional visual representation of whatever you’re asking your virtual assistant to help you with
- Looking to upgrade your existing smart speaker and want a more thorough central hub with broader capabilities
Q: Are smart screens worth it?
While the answer to whether or not something is “worth it” is clearly subjective.
The best smart displays receive consistently high ratings in product reviews and elsewhere, indicating consumer satisfaction and a general feeling of value for money.
Like any other device – smart or otherwise – its value increases the more use you get out of it.
If you have a smart display in a room you never use, it’s not going to be earning its keep quite as much as one in the kitchen, which gets used multiple times a day by various family members.
If you research thoroughly and buy the best smart display for your needs, the investment will absolutely be worth it.
Q: How To Choose / Which One To Choose
Before choosing your smart display, ask yourself the following questions.
What room in the house do you intend to use it? Do you want to use it mostly for video calls, or would you prefer something you can pop on the bedside cabinet and use as an advanced alarm? How much are you willing to spend?
These questions are a good starting point to help you narrow down the best smart display to suit your needs.
You should always try to be as thorough as possible with your research before you take the plunge, as this will mean you are less likely to stumble across any issues when setting up your smart display.
Choosing the best smart display for your needs depends on your budget, your existing smart home set-up, and where you want to use the smart display in your home.
While many smart displays offer similar features, there are subtle differences between models, and the very best smart displays offer a comprehensive package if you’re not worried about drying up the bank account.
Hopefully, this guide helps clear up these questions so you can buy the best smart display to match your requirements.
Here’s a quick recap of the 5 best smart displays:
- Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd gen)
- Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd gen)
- Lenovo Smart Tab M10 Plus
- Facebook Portal Plus
- Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd gen)