Working with Lenovo, the search giant unveiled its new Smart Display this week at CES 2018. The device runs Google Assistant and a handful of other Google services with no third-party support yet. Like the Echo Show and Echo Spot, it also has a camera for making video calls, but unlike Amazon’s devices, it has a physical shutter for covering the lens when you don’t need to use it.
That’s a huge perk for anyone worried about privacy, especially if you plan on keeping the device somewhere private like on a bedside table. Covering up the camera is as simple as flipping a hardware switch on the side of the device, so you don’t need to worry that Google (or worse, some random hacker) is spying on you while you sleep.
Beyond our privacy concerns, Google’s new product has one more advantage over Amazon’s gadgets. It can play YouTube videos, and the Echo Show can’t thanks to an ongoing squabble between the two companies. You’ll also have access to other Google apps such as Duo for video calls and Google Photos.
When it comes to pricing, however, Amazon still offers the best deal. The Lenovo Smart Display starts at $US199 ($253) for an 8-inch screen and goes up to $US249 ($317) for the 10-inch version (both models are listed as “coming soon” with no set release date, and Australian pricing has yet to be confirmed). The Echo Spot is a lot cheaper at just $US130 ($166), while the Echo Show costs $US230 ($293) – both versions will be released in Australia early this year, though pricing has yet to be announced.
Of course, it’s possible Google could come out with its own even cheaper hardware in the future, though there’s no guarantee that version will include a switch for turning off the camera like Lenovo’s does.