There are dozens of speakers and monitors on the market today with Google Assistant, but most really serve only one purpose, being a voice assistant with some music and/or video features. In 2019, Lenovo launches Smart Watch specially designed with your bedroom in mind and this year it has a successor. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been using the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 with its wireless charging dock, and it’s evolved the original’s formula to be a better nightstand fit.
In terms of physical design, the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is quite similar to what has been released before, only with an overall more attractive design. The new version is taller with fewer flat edges. It actually has a smaller footprint on your nightstand, which is great and I’m a huge fan of the new blue line. I’d say the only regression in the physical design is that the top area is too small, which makes the “smack” option to snooze the clock significantly less available. As a result I stopped using that feature because it was not reliable enough with small surface area.
Another notable change this time is the removal of the built-in USB port on the clock itself. That port has been moved to the wireless charging dock instead. All in all, it’s a fair trade, but you’re a bit annoyed to see how the most affordable way to buy this device is there is no pier there. However, there’s still a hardware mute switch on the back, which is always great to see, and there are two buttons on the top of the device for physical volume control.
In line with the original model is software, still a Google-made platform, similar to what you’ll find on the Nest Hub, only condensed to fit on a much smaller screen. Quick talk aside, the screen on this year’s model feels almost identical to the original, but with a slightly more uniform backlighting.
The software runs well and is designed to be intuitive. Swiping down from the top brings up various quick settings, just like you would on a mobile phone. Long-pressing on the watch face allows for a quick way to transition the design outward, much like switching your wallpaper on your phone or the watch face on a smartwatch. It’s really just super intuitive, to the point where anyone with a basic understanding of their smartphone will probably can wrap their brains around the Smart Watch’s interface in minutes.
The Google Assistant also works as it should on this device, with support for answering questions, running Procedures, processing commands, etc. However, the most obvious use case for this device is alarms and they work the same way as on a Nest Hub or smart speaker. Just ask Google to set an alarm and it will get the job done, no fuss. Things are better on Google’s side since the last Smart Watch, with the ability to ask Google to change the alarm time without canceling. “Hey Google, change my alarm to 8am” works great if you remember at the last minute you need to wake up at a different time the next day.
During my time using the Lenovo Smart Clock 2, I only had two real problems with the alarms. The first is just a software quirk. The Google Assistant, and this interface in turn, displays an entry for each time you set an alarm. So the “Alarms” menu that allows you to turn on/off the alarm by touch instead of by voice can very chaotic. Another annoying problem I’ve had that seems to be on Google’s side is that my nightly “Goodnight” routine on the Assistant often messes up when asking to set an alarm. When it asks me what time I want the alarm to go, sometimes it will ignore anything I say and change it to 4am. I don’t know why and I can’t seem to do anything to fix it, but it’s been making my wife and I wake up pretty rude lately because we didn’t realize it messed up the timing.
Wireless charging dock
What’s really new about this year’s Smartwatch is that Lenovo has added a wireless charging dock to the setup. The base connects magnetically and uses pins to switch power. When connected, you get a Qi wireless charging dock and a USB port, making it really simple to charge your phone or headset with your smartwatch. I mostly use this setup to charge my Pixel Buds and/or Galaxy Buds 2 as well as the Galaxy Watch 4, while charging the phone on a stand charger because I personally just prefer that setup.
However, one really cool touch that I did like with the Smart Watch 2’s base, is how it confirms that wireless charging has started. If alignment is good and charging starts, you will see a quick “Night light” pulse to confirm charging has started. As someone who has woken up countless times and found that I have missed the alignment on other horizontal chargers, this is a great addition. The Night Light feature can also be used manually from the screen to provide some light in a dark room, with settings to adjust the brightness and length of time the night light works. It’s also a great addition, but I wish there was a physical button to activate it instead of relying on software.
Lenovo says the Qi pad on the Smartwatch 2 can go up to 10W on compatible devices, and it seems to only be around 5W~ in my testing with the Galaxy Z Flip 3. I think this is perfect though. Totally reasonable for a device designed to charge your phone overnight. The extra heat from any faster speeds degrades battery health in the long run, and I’d rather reserve the faster speeds for desktop or car chargers.
With all that said, I had a few complaints. For one, the charging dock can only be attached where it comes out the right side of the watch. This is a small thing, but really affects the experience. I sleep on the left side of the bed, which means the watch is further away from me than the charger. Great for putting my phone on the charger, not so great for snoozing alarms or adjusting the volume. My wife sleeps on the opposite side of the bed and this design will make it easy for her to get to the watch, but much less to the charging dock. Orientation is a bit frustrating, but it would be nice to have a choice.
The other problem for me is the wireless charging dock Actually picky, picky. For me, alignment on any phone takes a try or two to successfully start charging, which is why that night light pulse is so helpful. Moreover, I really find that I can not Charge some devices at all. Across two different Smartwatches 2, I’ve had issues charging certain devices. Specifically, I couldn’t charge the Pixel 6 Pro or Galaxy Z Fold 3, but other devices, including the Pixel 6, Galaxy Z Flip 3, Pixel 4 XL, and others, worked fine. Speaking with Lenovo, we can’t work out exactly what’s going on here, especially given that at first sight of the device I wouldn’t charge anything but headphones. Whatever the cause, this seems to be an isolated case, as Lenovo was not immediately aware of the issue outside of my case and was unable to reproduce it internally. The company is still looking into what might have caused my problem. I see that some users reported issues with older firmware, but on newer versions (which I’m running) everything is back on track.
Like the original Smart Clock, my review of the Lenovo sequel is that it’s quite an ideal bed companion. The hardware is thoughtfully designed for exactly that use case, and this year’s model really fills your needs doubly. Sure it has some quirks, but overall the package is well done.
Whether you’re buying it for yourself or a family member, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The price of the SmartWatch 2 on its own is $69, while the base pack costs $89. If you want to fortify your nightstand to remove an extra charging dock or USB plug, this is a great solution, but the base-less version isn’t quite as helpful.
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https://9to5google.com/2021/12/10/lenovo-smart-clock-2-review/ Review Lenovo Smart Clock 2: A better bedside companion