CES 2017: Lenovo Enters Smart Home Market With Amazon Echo-Like Smart Speaker, But Cheaper

Lenovo has decided to take a plunge into the growing smart home market and it's now introducing its new Lenovo Smart Assistant with Amazon Alexa integration.

Smart speakers are rapidly gaining ground and the trend is on the rise. Amazon Echo speakers have proved to be widely popular and among the company's best-selling products, and the more recent Google Home is gaining steam as well.

Lenovo Smart Speaker With Amazon Alexa

Before CES 2017 fully kicks into gear, Lenovo has now unveiled its tubular speaker called Lenovo Smart Assistant, which comes with Amazon Alexa baked in. Lenovo says it teamed up with Amazon to integrate Alexa Voice Services into the Lenovo Smart Assistant, enabling the smart speaker to perform a number of tasks issued by voice command.

Amazon's Alexa Voice Services are expected to power a wide range of items at CES 2017, including a high-end Samsung vacuum cleaner called Powerbot VR7000 and other intriguing gadgets.

In terms of design, the Lenovo Smart Assistant looks a lot like Amazon Echo, and it works a lot like the Echo too. Users will be able to issue voice commands asking Alexa to play music, get the news, set timers and such others.

"Built in collaboration with Amazon, the elegantly designed Lenovo Smart Assistant recognizes users' voice commands and uses Alexa to conduct web searches, play music, create lists, provide calendar updates and much more," says Lenovo. "And because Alexa's brains are in the cloud, it means she's always getting smarter."

Lenovo Smart Speaker vs. Amazon Echo

While the Lenovo Smart Assistant is similar in many respects to the Amazon Echo, there are still a few notable differences between the two.

The color scheme, for instance, is different – Lenovo's Smart Assistant comes in Light Gray, Green and Orange color options. At the same time, Lenovo's speaker has the microphone part protruding at the top rather than blending in like on the Amazon Echo.

Lenovo says that its Smart Assistant has eight 360-degree far-field microphones with acoustic echo cancellation and noise suppression, allowing it to pick up users' voice commands from up to 16 feet away. By comparison, the Amazon Echo has seven far-field microphones.

Moreover, Lenovo is also offering a Harman Kardon version of its Smart Assistant, getting a notable edge against its rivals. While Amazon Echo and Google Home are great for voice commands, they're not so great serving as speakers. With Harman Kardon on board, the Lenovo Smart Speaker aims to address this shortcoming.

Lenovo says the Harman Kardon edition of its Smart Assistant speaker is designed for "premium audio quality and home entertainment." The speaker is also designed to work with Lenovo smart home devices, as well as a slew of other third-party gadgets.

Lenovo Smart Assistant Pricing And Availability

The Lenovo Smart Assistant is set to hit the market in May this year sporting a $130 starting price, which is the same as Google Home but lower than the $180 price point of the Amazon Echo. The more premium Harman Kardon edition, meanwhile, will go up to $180.

Lenovo also introduced a 6 TB networked storage drive simply called Smart Storage, which is also set to start shipping in May at a $140 price point.

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