If you’re already a fan of smart speaker systems or are out to make your home into a smart home, you might be thinking about getting a smart display. We’re here to tell you what makes these devices great and what might make you hesitate before getting one.
Smart displays are essentially smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo, but with the addition of screens. Thus giving you a little more functionality like the ability to look at pictures, stream video and have video chats. Smart displays are gaining popularity as they increase abilities and there are a number of great ones you can buy today.
Interested in learning more about smart displays and if they’d be a good fit in your home? Read on below, where we’ll tell you the good (and bad) about buying them, what our favorite models are if you’re interested, and how secure they are. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to decide for yourself if there’s a smart display in your future or not. So get to reading to decide!
What a smart display can do (and why you’d want one)
Smart displays, as we said, give you the functions of smart speakers, but with a visual component. You can ask your smart display questions, and it’ll answer them, just as it will perform actions you ask it to with voice commands.
The display is also a touch screen, so if you want that kind of control or don’t want to memorize a ton of voice commands, you can use the smart display that way as well.
If you have a security camera that’s smart, or smart home compatible, you can pull up footage from the camera using a smart display. This can allow you to look over your property just before you go to bed at night, or it can allow you to check footage that’s been recorded over the course of the day.
Your smart display can show you videos, so you can follow along in a YouTube tutorial and pause the video when necessary with just a voice command. You can play music videos, to get your favorite song playing and add a fun visual component to it.
Smart displays also can show you your calendar, so you can see your appointments for the day and plan accordingly. It will also show you the weather, so you can dress appropriately for your day and be prepared for things like rain far in advance.
You can also look at beloved family photos, or have a recipe up on the screen while you prepare dinner. You can even video call your loved ones and see their faces as you talk.
If you like smart speakers like the Google Home and the Amazon Echo, a smart display has all of their functions with the addition of a screen that gives you even more to do. It’s an upgrade and a great hub for your smart home should you want to start adding other devices to your home (or if you already have them and want new ways to utilize them).
There are slight downsides to smart displays when compared to speakers. For example, smart speakers can be placed anywhere in a room and be useful, while you need to be near the smart display screen to enjoy the visual component. And smart speakers are often much cheaper, which is important if you’re trying to build your smart home on a budget.
But if you’re looking for an easy display for your home security or a virtual helper you can activate with your voice or with touch, you should seriously consider getting a smart display.
Great smart display devices to add to your home
If the above section has convinced you to invest in a smart display, there are some great options on the market that are worth getting. Here’s a brief overview of a few of our favorites, which also happen to be pretty popular right now.
Echo Show 5
Amazon was one of the first to delve into the world of smart speakers, and so they were one of the first to make a smart display as well. The Amazon Echo Show line is all pretty great, but we particularly like the newest one, the Amazon Echo Show 5.
The screen is small, only 5.5 inches, but that’s perfect if you want an unobtrusive display in your home, or if you hope to use it as a smart alarm clock (the Echo Show 5 actually comes with a sunrise alarm you can use to wake up slowly, as its screen gently increases in brightness to ease you into being awake).
If you’re interested in a bigger smart display with a great aesthetic, check out the Google Nest Hub. With a 7 inch display, the Nest Hub is a wonderful device for showcasing pictures (it’s easy to set up a screensaver with your favorites) and the sleek, neutral design lets it and its display of weather and information look great in any home.
The Facebook Portal is another smart display that gives you Alexa, with an even better camera. It has a smart camera and smart sound, which allows the device to follow you around a room and allows the device to zoom in or out depending on the action around you. This means on a video call, you can move around your living room and you’ll stay on screen with whoever you’re talking to.
Although, this is Facebook we're talking about so you should be worried about privacy since it's terrible at keeping your data safe. Know the risks before putting one in your home.
If you don't need a huge display screen, take a look at Amazon's Echo Spot. The display size is only 2.5 inches but gives you most of the same functionality of the larger Echo Show. The Echo Spot is designed to fit anywhere in your home and connects to Alexa to play music, read the news, answer questions, set alarms and more.
The risks of having smart displays
The downside of devices with cameras that connect to the internet, which all smart displays must do in order to function, is the cameras can be hacked. This may not be an incredibly likely scenario, but it’s happened with smart cameras, so it can happen with smart displays as well.
There are things you can do to keep your device safe, of course. But if you’re going to worry about the camera or accessibility of your device, it may not be worth getting a smart display in your home.
If you still want the smart display but want to be safe, one of the first things you can do is make sure your router and modem are well protected with firewalls and good passwords.
If you like smart devices and video calls, they can be a great addition to your home. If you’d prefer a bit of privacy and wouldn’t find the ability to make your to-do list aloud very useful, they might not be for you. Whatever way you go, you at least can make an informed decision, which will only help you in the long run.
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