I Love This Smart Alarm Clock

I Love This Smart Alarm Clock
The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is cute and unassuming. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

If you’re like me, you’re probably still using an alarm clock to get up, even with your smartphone charging by your bedside. While the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 isn’t as iconic as the vintage Sony Dream Machine from the late ‘80s, it is just as effective at getting me up in the morning. It also offers access to the Google Assistant, so it’s the last gadget I talk to before drifting off to sleep.

I’ve been sleeping next to the original Lenovo Smart Clock since it debuted in 2019. I grew to prefer it over waking up with a smartphone, and I like that it has a smaller footprint than a traditional smart display. The A$94 Lenovo Smart Clock 2 improves the experience with a less-bulbous design and optional wireless charging capabilities, though it took away the charging port from the base price. You’ll have to pay an extra A$34 to bring back that charging port since it’s a part of the wireless charging base, bringing the total cost to A$129.

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is not ridiculously expensive, but it’s priced high enough that you might reconsider it when you realise the whole package — including wireless charging — costs nearly as much as the 7-inch Nest Hub. If you’re merely looking to start the day with the Google Assistant, the A$59 Lenovo Smart Clock Essentials might be more your speed.

Lenovo Smart Clock 2

WHAT IS IT?

A smart clock with the Google Assistant

PRICE?

A$94, or A$129 with the optional wireless charging base

LIKE

Narrow body takes up less space, display is tuned for looking at in the dark, wireless charging base includes a nightlight and extra USB port

DISLIKE

Lenovo moved the first-gen's USB port to the optional charging base, it's not exactly a boombox, Nest cam feeds are the only video you can cast to the display

Same Fabric, Smaller Body

On its own, the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is a stylish little accessory for your nightstand. This version of the clock fits much better on my small table than the previous generation did. Lenovo trimmed the sides so that it’s taller rather than wide-bodied like the last one, so it takes up a bit less space. There’s also a 1.52 m-long cord that’s long enough for routing behind the bed, though the adaptor still requires considerable room on a power strip.

Unfortunately, Lenovo took out the USB-A charging port on the back to slim down the clock’s profile. Lenovo instead consolidated the USB port into the charging dock accessory.

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 comes in three colours, including Shadow Black, Heather Grey, and Abyss Blue, which Lenovo sent me for review. However, I wish smart home manufacturers would take a breather from the unremovable fabric coverings because they’re tough to keep clean even if they do look nice.

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 blends into any bedroom background.  (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo) The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 blends into any bedroom background. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

The main reason you’d want the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is its 4-inch display, which is big enough to see the time from across the room. The touchscreen feels more responsive this time around, as I had an easier time tapping the tiny alarm icon in the right-hand corner than I did with the predecessor. The screen is small, however, and even if you wanted to, you couldn’t use it for video beyond checking on a Nest security camera feed in your home network. There is a digital photo frame functionality to display Google Photos albums, but I primarily used the Smart Clock 2 for its clock function. I like the home screen that features the weather report for the day and a mention of upcoming calendar events.

You can cast audio to the Smart Clock 2 from a mobile device or Chrome browser. There’s a pair of 1.5-inch, 3-watt front-firing drivers on the inside, and while they sound great for podcasts and the Google Assistant’s responses, they’re best for soft music rather than loud, bass-forward tunes.

Simple Little Smart Clock

As mentioned earlier, although the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 has a screen that you can touch and will replay photo reels, it is not a smart display. The Smart Clock 2 doesn’t do video calls, though you could make a voice call through Google Duo.

The clock has the Google Assistant built in, and you can command it with the same phrases as any Google smart speaker. The Smart Clock 2 can also cast video content to other screens in a room if you set it up beforehand through the Google Home app, and it can run a routine when it wakes you up in the morning. I use the Smart Clock 2 to turn off the lights every night manually. It’s also my timekeeper for when I’m getting ready to leave the house. And combined in a Home group, which is the Google Assistant’s way of wireless tethering different devices, the Smart Clock 2 can add a boost to your room ambiance.

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 has a nifty little night light feature, which lights up the display so you can find your footing in the dark.  (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo) The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 has a nifty little night light feature, which lights up the display so you can find your footing in the dark. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

The Smart Clock 2’s user interface is as simple as the last version. The main screen shows the time, while a swipe down will surface shortcuts for access to alarms, a nap timer, and a night light functionality, which lights up the screen. Swiping up on the main screen will bring up a quick settings menu, with a button for things like display brightness and do not disturb. If you set up a default music service through the Google Home app, you can directly play music on the Smart Clock without pawing through your smartphone. And you can organise and tweak the different alarms through the Google Home app instead of having to scroll through the tiny screen.

It Can Charge Things

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is available with an optional wireless charging base, though it brings the price up to $US90 ($122). The base adds about five extra inches to the device’s footprint, so it things can get crowded if you have a small nightstand. The base features an additional night light, though I hardly used it since I already have an adjustable lamp at my bedside. Lenovo also moved the USB port to the back of the base, so you can plug in a smartwatch charger or whatever else you need to juice up overnight.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 comes with an optional wireless charging base, which works great for a smartphone or pair of earbuds.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

There’s even a built-in night light that beams in and out when you start wireless charging.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Lenovo added a USB-A charging port on the back of the wireless charging base for additional accessories.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

On its own, the base just looks like a slab of plastic.

I liked the utility of the Smart Clock 2’s wireless charging base. It’s helpful for charging a Qi-compatible device, whether a smartphone or a pair of earbuds. But it was finicky to use, and if you have a slippery phone, you might wake up finding a device that hasn’t charged. You have to place the accessory precisely on the contact point and wait for the light to flash before it’s successfully charging.

The Smart Clock 2’s charging base is also redundant in my particular use case. It doesn’t technically deliver the full charging speed of phones like the OnePlus 9. I already have OnePlus’s 50-watt standing charging base, which juices up the phone at top speed, but when I used both simultaneously, it took up so much space on my nightstand that I grew to hate it. Lenovo probably made this optional knowing that people would want to use their own fast-charging bricks.

The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is a fine little bedside companion — if you think you need it.  (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo) The Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is a fine little bedside companion — if you think you need it. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

Overall, the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 isn’t that much different from its predecessor. If anything, it feels like a do-over from the first-gen, except this time it took away the USB charging port. That decision saved some room on the device’s overall design but makes it hard to swallow the $US70 ($95) price tag for a niche alarm clock.

At the very least, the Smart Clock 2 is a one-of-a-kind device if you’re very specifically looking for a Google Assistant alarm clock. On the Alexa side of things, Amazon did away with the Echo Spot in favour of the A$99 consolidated Echo Dot with clock, though it only displays numbers and doesn’t have a screen. Amazon’s larger offering is the A$119 5-inch Echo Show 5 — though I’ve seen it for as low as A$75 — and it features a camera.

I still like having a dedicated alarm clock. That it bundles in my smart home controls, which I heavily rely on to achieve the sleep environment I desire, earns it the space it takes on my tiny nightstand. But if you can’t deal with the price tag, you might consider waiting for the Smart Clock 2 to get a discount. Or you can always check out the cheaper Lenovo Smart Clock Essential (or, you know, use your phone).