Lenovo smart display $200

Google adds to portfolio of voice-control devices

Google’s latest entry in its fight for the smart home is the Smart Display, built by Lenovo and running Google’s Android Things software for internet-connected devices.

Like Google’s Home, it lets you control it with your voice and focuses on playing music. But it also has either an 8-inch ($200) or 10-inch screen ($250) on which you can watch YouTube videos, have a video chat or get better answers to some questions.

It may seem puzzling for smart-speaker makers to add yet another screen to the home, when the point of voice control is that you don’t have to touch a thing.

But adding a screen gives Google a better way to answer questions about things that require some visual assistance. Recipes, for example, benefit from short videos or written instructions rather than a robotic voice reeling off ingredients.

Capitalizing on that might also help Google reach a broader audience for its smart speakers, which are appealing to a fairly narrow demographic.

Amazon has released a few devices that use the screen in conjunction with voice as part of its aggressive smart home play, including the stand-alone Echo Show.



They cancel noise, but aren’t for everyone

Bose’s Sleepbuds are tiny wireless headphones that can mask nocturnal nuisances, including snoring, barking dogs and garbage trucks.

But a pair of Sleepbuds are pricey, require you to wear buds inside your ears all night long — and might not work for everyone.

Sleepbuds seal off your ear canals like earplugs and play additional monotonous sounds that are supposed to make your brain stop paying attention.

It’s like having two tiny noise machines inside your head, playing a low level of babbling brooks or rustling leaves while you sleep.

Bose said none of the sounds is loud enough to damage your ears — and you should still be able to hear smoke alarms.

For a gadget that goes inside your ear, the Sleepbuds are remarkably comfortable. But despite these smart design choices, we’re still talking about a gadget that lives inside your head.

The final word: With the $250 cost, try inexpensive ear plugs first.