Amazon Show & Echo SpotIf you’re not familiar with the emerging smart home category of Smart Displays, today’s article should really help you out. Smart displays, as it turns out, are much more than just voice assistants with built-in viewing screens. These more advanced devices add a variety of additional features to smart speakers that takes them well beyond standard voice control and into the broader realm of visual interaction. To learn all about what smart displays can do that goes well beyond the scope of ordinary voice assistants, just keep on reading.


What are Smart Displays?

Lenovo Smart Display
Shown here is the Lenovo Smart Display from back when I reviewed one last Summer

The first thing to note about smart displays is that there are more and more of them coming onto the market all the time. Over the last couple of years, smart displays have really begun to take off, with several new products introduced.

Among the current top models in the field are the Lenovo Smart Display 8″ with Google Assistant and the Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen) with Alexa, but more major contenders are already headed our way (more on that below).

Amazon Echo Show on a console table
Shown this time is the 2nd generation of the Amazon Echo Show

The idea behind smart displays is to add a visual component (typically with a touch screen) to smart speakers that are already integrated with either the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa voice assistant platforms.

What results from this marriage is a device that gives you all of the functionality of a modern smart speaker (including voice control over your other smart devices, as well as the ability to provide informative answers to questions like “What is the current Canadian Dollar to US Dollar exchange rate?”), but with the included visual benefit of a screen.

In other words, some information is best expressed (and better understood) visually, and that is the benefit of a smart display. For instance, learning the necessary steps for a vehicle maintenance routine such as completing an oil change.

Thus, is it better to ask a smart speaker how to complete the change and have all of the information audibly doled out to you at once, or to ask a smart display and have the information both audibly delivered and visually presented in a step-by-step format on screen that you can consult as much as is necessary?

In fact, by using a smart display, you might even end up finding a how-to YouTube video on the topic, making it easier still to perform. This is the benefit of a modern smart display!


Standard Voice Assistants & Smart Speakers

google home speakerThe reason that standard smart speakers and voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home have become so popular since their emergence onto the scene no so very long ago is a multifaceted one. For one thing, they provide convenient voice control over all of your other smart products and devices, giving you the ability to turn things on or off with a simple voice command.

They also allow you to set timers and reminders about things you don’t want to forget, and they’re great informational resources as well. For example, if you need to know the upcoming weather forecast, want to find out who won last night’s big game, or have a question regarding some historical event, all you’ve got to do is ask your smart voice assistant and you’ll get an immediate answer to your query. But even with as much as smart voice assistants can tell you, there’s nothing they can show you…


What Can Smart Displays Do?

KitchenAid Smart Display
Shown here is the forthcoming KitchenAid Smart Display, which promises to be a big help in the kitchen

The major advantage of smart displays over standard smart voice assistants, then, is the ability to show you the answers, rather than just telling them to you. Smart displays add a valuable visual component to everything that smart speakers can already do.

For example, if you’re looking for a new recipe for pasta carbonara, a smart display won’t just quickly recite the details to you before you can write them down—it will visually show you everything, step-by-step, right there on the screen in front of you. This includes both a complete ingredient list as well as the steps you’ll need to take (and in the exact order necessary), to produce the perfect pasta creation.

More than that, smart displays also allow you to see a visual representation of your upcoming calendar, to start every morning by perusing an informative feed of the day’s top news stories, to partake of 2-way video phone calls, to listen to your favourite music on demand (to be fair, regular smart speakers can also do this), and even to enjoy endless hours of funny cat videos on YouTube.

Additional benefits of smart displays include offering complete control over (and monitoring of) your broader smart home (once again, standard smart speakers can do this as well), the ability to research information on people and historical events (complete with pictures and text), and the ability to act as a digital photo frame—showcasing a wonderful slideshow of all your best pictures.

As you can see, smart displays offer considerable advantages over standard smart speakers, and they’re only getting better!


The Future of Smart Displays

I mentioned above that more smart display models were already on their way. The reason I know this is that a number of upcoming models were recently revealed at this year’s CES show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Among the coming models is the GE Kitchen Hub—a large (27 inch) touch screen smart display (shown directly above) that mounts above your range and provides numerous helpful features that are not merely kitchen specific. With this display you will enjoy video chatting with friends and relatives, the ability to control all of your other smart appliances, and even access to the Chefling A.I. (virtual) chef that will help you to become a better actual chef.

Also coming soon is the KitchenAid Smart Display (shown further above). This device too is designed to give you some serious help in the kitchen. With hands-free smart home control, step-by-step instructions through a vast library of recipes, and even assistance with things like compiling and maintaining grocery shopping lists, the KitchenAid Smart Display promises to be your top kitchen counter companion through thick and thin—even when your hands are covered in raw chicken debris.

The final thought I’d like to leave you with is that smart displays represent, in many ways, the future of the smart voice assistant. This is because they take the voice assistant concept and build upon it to make something even better. As time goes on, who knows how far this technology might go. But for now, smart displays are straightforward and easy-to-use devices that are perfect for pretty much any home, even if you’re not normally into smart home devices.

To learn more about smart displays and potentially find one for your home, visit Best Buy Canada today.


Leonard Bond
Leo enjoys writing about everything from secret agents to tech toys and gadgets to professional hockey. Find his reviews and other product related commentary right here on the Best Buy Blog and his latest hockey rants at