Millions of homes make use of voice assistants and smart speakers, but when it comes to features, devices like those are being swiftly outpaced by the newest smart displays. In fact, the best smart display devices can stream video and show off visuals from your digital assistant of choice, and they can be a great one-stop-shop for video chats with friends, family and co-workers, too. But which is the best smart display for you?
You’ve certainly got lots of options to choose from. Chief among them are smart displays from Amazon and Google, each of which has released numerous generations of devices at this point. Most recently, that includes the Amazon Echo Show 8 and the , the latter of which adds motion into the mix by way of a rotating display capable of following you during video calls. On the Google side of things, you’ve got the (formerly the Google Home Hub) as well as the Nest Hub Max, which adds in face- and gesture-tracking capabilities along with a larger screen. And don’t forget Meta — the maker of Facebook has up for sale, too.
Whether you’re looking to add a smart display to your existing setup, or you’re just starting yourand you find the touchscreen appealing, here are the best models available now. We’ll update this list periodically.
The newest version of the Nest Hub with Google services arrived in 2021 and it’s a great entry point for the category. It’s the smartest and best overall, making the low $100 price even more appealing.
Thanks to the built-in Google Assistant, the Nest Hub responds to all of the same voice command options as the Google Home Mini smart speaker. The Google smart display touchscreen is a little small at 7 inches, but the adaptive brightness makes pictures look particularly great. Google will even customize a slideshow of family pics as your screensaver.
You can also control your smart home devices, like your smart doorbell, with an intuitively designed control panel. Unlike most of the other smart displays (and unlike its big brother, the Nest Hub Max), the Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera, but that might be a bonus if you have privacy concerns and want to put it on your bedside table.
The second-generation smart home hub model includes Sleep Sensing and Quick Gestures thanks to Google’s Soli mini radar. The colorful fabric design on this Google assistant smart display allows the device to blend in anywhere, though the tablet touchscreen comes in particularly handy if you want step-by-step help through a recipe in the kitchen.
For a long time, the Nest Hub occupied pride of place on this list, thanks to its photo display aesthetic, pleasant user interface and more naturalistic voice assistant. But the pandemic made clear the appeal of the Echo Show 8’s camera — and its ability to video chat. That’s a feature the Nest Hub simply doesn’t have. Add that to Amazon Alexa’s growing smarts, and the Show 8 has been upgraded to share the “best display” honor with the Nest Hub. Both are great smart displays.
With the Show 8, Alexa will respond to your voice control and voice commands, plus you can use the tablet screen to play games, browse recipes, watch movies and Prime Video trailers, control your smart home and more. The 8-inch touchscreen is small enough to stay out of the way, but big enough that you won’t have to squint. In the mornings, Amazon’s sunrise alarm feature can help ease you out of your sleep with a screen that starts getting brighter 15 minutes before your scheduled wake-up time. The camera also comes with a physical shutter for privacy.
Google Assistant still makes better use of the touchscreen than Amazon — in particular, the cooking directions and smart home controls are better — but the Echo Show 8 is close enough, and it comes with a camera for video chats. In short, the Show 8 is Amazon’s best smart display yet.
If you want a 10-inch touchscreen powered by Alexa, the $250 Amazon Echo Show 10 is the latest and greatest in smart display technology. With a motorized base, the Echo Show 10 can follow you around the room during video calls or while you’re watching video content on the device. The 10.1-inch tablet HD display looks good, and the device comes with a 13-megapixel front-facing camera, plus a physical shutter for privacy. Amazon also added adaptive color to this Echo device model.
You can use the Echo Show 10 as a smart home security camera and view it remotely in the Alexa app. Group video calling is supported for up to seven people, and Drop In lets you make a call directly to your display from anywhere with the Alexa app. Occupancy and vacancy based routines can trigger other smart home devices when the Echo Show 10 senses someone entering or leaving the room.
This Alexa device is Amazon’s priciest smart home hub display and the most feature-filled smart screen. We think most people will still get by just fine with the Echo Show 8 for considerably less money, but if you’re after Amazon’s boldest smart display yet, this is it.
: At $229, the Nest Hub Max ups the Google Assistant’s screen size from 7 to 10 inches and offers better sound quality than before. The real story, however, is the addition of a sophisticated camera that can track movements and gestures, or identify faces to show you personalized info on the screen. It’s an impressive combination of hardware and software, but the Google Nest Hub Max comes with . For most people, we think the original, camera-free Nest Hub is a lot closer to the smart display sweet spot.
: The Echo Show 5 is the cheapest of Amazon’s displays, and it features most of the perks of the Show 8. Its resolution is lower than the Show 8 and its screen is smaller. While it features a tap-to-snooze alarm feature that makes it perfect for a bedside alarm, its sound quality isn’t close compared to its bigger siblings.
: The original Echo Show helped popularize the smart display back in 2017 and the current second-gen Show improved on it in every way with better design, sound quality and a more useful screen. It’s a good premium counterpart to the attractive $90 entry point of the Echo Show 5. The second-gen Show has great sound quality and a 10-inch screen. The touchscreen just isn’t as useful as similar models with Google Assistant.
: At 15.6 inches, this smart display is big. It’s also smarter than previous Echo Shows and designed to live somewhere no previous Echo Shows could — your wall. Amazon took a calculated risk here, but thanks to a reasonable price of $250, the new AZ2 chip and welcome features like widgets, that risk mostly pays off.
: If you want a 10-inch touchscreen powered by Google Assistant, Lenovo’s smart display looks elegant and features the same smarts as the Nest Hub. There are actually three different Lenovo smart display models with 10, 8 and 7 inch screens. The 10-inch Lenovo smart display has a bamboo back that’s particularly well suited for the kitchen.
: The $100 Facebook Portal makes great video calls. Its video calling smart camera can track and follow any individual in frame so you can move freely as you talk. Otherwise, it has the Alexa app built-in, but it isn’t as smart as the rest. Facebook has faced numerous privacy scandals, however, so putting one of its cameras in your home takes a big leap of faith. Facebook followed it with the and .
: This $80 smart alarm trims out a lot of the functionality of smart displays. There’s no camera and you can’t watch videos. You can customize alarms and scroll through screens with weather and commute info. Thanks to a recent update, you can also look at personal pics and the Smart Clock will scroll through selected albums from Google Photos as your screensaver. It’s cute and tailored for your nightstand, but it’s more of an upgraded alarm clock than a full smart display.
For smart home users, the smart display will function as a sort of visual dashboard, showing you all your connected devices and their statuses. You can view cameras and doorbells on your smart display screen, as well as make video calls, watch online content, view recipes and ask general knowledge questions.
There are other fun features like books, games, puzzles and holiday easter eggs. Smart displays also double as digital photo frames and helpful clocks and calendars.
A smart display admittedly doesn’t do as much as your Android tablet or iPad. You won’t be able to download any apps or view every single streaming platform. It isn’t portable, either.
Smart displays are focused on being hubs or command centers for your smart home. It’s a device you’ll plant on one shelf or countertop and likely leave it there for its entire life.
Well, that depends. If you’re interested in smart home tech, a smart display is a helpful way to view everything you’re setting up and controlling within your home. If you like making video calls, smart displays are a good way to do so without sacrificing your phone or laptop battery.
If a smart home isn’t really your cup of tea or if you’re hesitant to put more cameras, microphones and voice assistants in your home (we wouldn’t blame you), then a tablet or small laptop will meet your needs.