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Smart displays have evolved quite a bit since the initial debut of Amazon’s first Echo Show back in 2017. In fact, the category didn’t really come into its own until Google joined the fray with its own line of hardware about a year later. Now, both of these companies are essentially dominating the smart display landscape, with each offering their own take on a smart assistant with a screen.
It’s that screen that makes smart displays so much more useful than smart speakers. Rather than just having a voice recite the current weather report, for example, you can see a five-day forecast as well. The same goes for when you ask about your shopping list or calendar; it’s simply easier to see the whole list or your day’s appointments at a glance.
Plus, displays offer other benefits that speakers can’t, like watching videos or checking your webcam to see who’s at your front door. They’re especially handy in the kitchen, where you can use them for step-by-step cooking instructions. And, thanks to touchscreens, you can often navigate through functions and settings a lot faster than using your voice.
The first question you should ask is whether you’d rather be in Amazon’s ecosystem or Google’s. If you have a lot of Google products in your home, like Nest thermostats or Nest cams, then a Google-powered model makes more sense. If you have Amazon products, like a Fire TV Stick or a Ring cam, Amazon would obviously be a better choice. Of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to have products from competing companies in the same home, but just realize they might not work seamlessly with each other.
Aside from that, the two systems also offer some unique features. Google, for example, works best if you have an existing Google account and use services like Calendar and Photos. In fact, we especially love Google smart displays because they work well as digital photo frames. You can set it up to automatically pull in pictures of friends and family from your Google Photos library, and the algorithm is smart enough to use what it thinks are the best shots — so less chance of blurry photos or images of your eyes half-closed showing up, for example.
It might seem like a minor point, but seeing as the display is on standby 90 percent of the time, its secondary function as a digital photo frame is very welcome. All Google smart displays also support YouTube and YouTube TV, step-by-step cooking instructions and all of the usual benefits of Google Assistant, like weather reports. As with Assistant on the phone, it also has voice recognition, so only you can see your calendar appointments and not others.
Amazon’s smart displays, on the other hand, are slightly different. Instead of YouTube, they offer some alternative video streaming options, including Amazon Prime, NBC and Hulu. They also come with two browsers (Silk and Firefox), which you can use to search the web or watch YouTube videos – a handy enough workaround given the lack of a dedicated app.
Amazon devices offer step-by-step cooking instructions as well, thanks to collaborations with sources like SideChef and AllRecipes. In fact, the cooking instructions sometimes include short video clips. But although you can use Amazon’s displays as digital photo frames, the process is not quite as intuitive as Google’s, and Amazon doesn’t have anything comparable to Google’s photo-sorting algorithm.
Smart displays come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and some are better suited to certain rooms in the home than others. So while we do have some favorite all-around picks, we’ve also compiled a list of smart displays that would suit specific use cases as well.
We at Engadget tend to prefer Google smart displays because most people are likely already entrenched in the Google ecosystem due to the ubiquity of Google services like Gmail, Calendar and so forth. We also tend to find Google Assistant to be a little smarter than Alexa, especially when bringing up answers from the web. As mentioned earlier, we also really like the tie-in with Google Photos and the smart photo-sorting algorithm.
Our favorite smart display overall is Google’s latest Nest Hub. Its 7-inch size is a better fit in more rooms, and its unobtrusive design combined with its soft fabric exterior blends nicely into your existing home decor. It does everything we think most people would want in a smart display, like YouTube videos, step-by-step cooking instructions, smart home controls and the ability to check in on your Nest cams if you have any.
In fact, the Nest Hub is especially useful if you have a Nest video doorbell, as the camera view of who’s at the front door will show up on the screen. An ambient light sensor helps to detect the light and color temperature of the environment and adjusts the screen to match. Plus, if you choose, it can help track your sleep patterns if placed next to your bed.
Another feature of the Nest Hub is actually a lack of one: It doesn’t have a camera. That gives it that additional layer of privacy that many people covet, and it’s also a lot more suitable for personal spaces like the bedroom. Sure, you could also cover up a camera with a shutter, but with the Nest Hub you don’t have to remember to do that.
If you like Google but you miss having a camera for video calls, or you just prefer a bigger screen, consider the Google Nest Hub Max. At 10 inches instead of seven, it works a lot better for watching videos from YouTube and YouTube TV. It’s especially useful in the kitchen, where it functions as a kind of portable television, and you can see more of those step-by-step cooking instructions at a glance. The bigger display also means a larger photo frame, which you may prefer.
As mentioned, the Nest Hub Max adds a camera to the mix. It doesn’t have a physical shutter, which is a concern, but you can shut it off with an electronic switch. You can use the camera for video calls with Google’s Duo service as well as Zoom, and it can also function as a Nest Cam to help you keep an eye on your house when you’re away. Another benefit of the camera is the addition of Face Match facial recognition for authentication purposes, which we found to be a little more accurate than just using Voice Match.
Last but not least, the Nest Hub Max’s camera adds a unique gestures feature that lets you play and pause media simply by holding up your hand to the screen. It’s not entirely necessary, but it’s potentially useful if you’re in a noisy environment and just want the music to stop without having to shout over everyone. Or perhaps you have messy hands while cooking and don’t want to dirty up the display.
Our favorite Amazon smart display is the second-gen Echo Show 8. Its 8-inch screen is just right; it doesn’t take up as much space as the Echo Show 10, but it’s also more suitable for watching videos than the tiny Echo Show 5. Like other Amazon smart displays, it has a built-in camera, but there is a physical camera cover to help alleviate privacy concerns.
As such, the Echo Show 8 is a compelling choice if you want the option of using your smart display for video calls. Not only is the camera quality fantastic, but the Show 8 has a feature that automatically frames your face and follows your movements during video calls. It’s useful if you want to move around as you’re chatting, or if you have rambunctious children and pets running around the house and you want to involve them in the conversation. You can use the Echo Show 8 to make calls between other Echo Show displays, or through Skype or Zoom.
As with the other smart displays, the Echo Show 8 also works as a digital photo frame and can be used to keep up with the news, check the weather and control smart home devices. If you want to use your smart display to play music, we also really like the Echo Show 8’s audio quality on account of its deep bass and rich tone.
At only 5.5 inches wide, the Echo Show 5 is one of the smallest smart displays on the market, and as a result, will work nicely on a desk or a nightstand. In fact, one of the reasons we like the Echo Show 5 so much is that it doubles as a stellar smart alarm clock. It has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the screen’s brightness automatically; a tap-to-snooze function so you can whack the top of it for a few extra minutes of shut-eye; plus a sunrise alarm that slowly brightens the screen to wake you up gently.
The Echo Show 5 does have a camera, which might make you a touch queasy if you are privacy conscious – especially if this is supposed to sit by your bedside. Still, it does have a physical camera cover, which can help ease any fears.
Perhaps a smart display doesn’t appeal to you because you don’t care about watching videos on it. But maybe the idea of a smarter alarm clock like the Echo Show 5 intrigues you. In that case, I’d recommend the 4-inch Lenovo Smart Clock 2, which isn’t a full-fledged smart display because you can’t play any videos on it, but it does use Google’s smart display tech, so you can use it for controlling your smart home as well as checking out your Nest Cams.
We also like it because it lacks a camera, which makes it perfect for your nightstand. It has all of the features we want in a smart alarm clock, like an ambient light sensor, that tap-to-snooze function and a sunrise alarm. Plus, the latest version can double as a night light – you can swipe down the display to enable it – and you can get an optional wireless charging base to go with it.
If the Smart Clock 2 is too advanced for you, Lenovo does offer an even simpler version called the Smart Clock Essential. It really isn’t a smart display at all – it’s really more of a smart speaker with a clock – but it does perform many of the same functions as the Smart Clock 2.
Lenovo sells the Smart Clock Essential in two different versions: One has Google Assistant, while the other is powered by Alexa. The one with Google Assistant has a built-in night light, an extra USB port for charging devices and a mic-mute button. The one with Alexa, on the other hand, is compatible with an optional docking station that can be used with accessories such as a wireless charging pad or an ambient light dock (it comes in either a sea lion or a squid shape) that can act as a night light.
Ben Silbermann is stepping down as Pinterest’s CEO, the company announced on Tuesday. He’ll be replaced by Bill Ready, who has spent the last couple of years as head of Commerce, Payments & Next Billion Users at Google. Silbermann isn’t leaving the company, though: he’ll be Pinterest’s executive chairman, following in the path of a number of tech CEOs who have recently gone from the daily trenches of running their company to a relatively more relaxed seat in the boardroom.
“Bill’s actually going to be a better CEO than I am for this next chapter,” Silbermann told The Wall Street Journal as part of his announcement. There’s only one way to read that: the time for the product dreamer founder is out. Pinterest’s next job is to make money. A lot of money. Quickly.
Pinterest has long seemed like a missed opportunity to investors. It’s a platform with hundreds of millions of users that isn’t growing that fast or making much money, even though most of those users spend their time searching for and pinning stuff they’d like to buy. Over the years, rather than compete with retailers and shopping platforms, it has become a hugely powerful discovery and curation engine for shoppers everywhere.
There’s an enticing — and likely massively profitable — future in which Pinterest acts as something like the internet’s shopping mall: a single place for users to shop brands from around the web, facilitating purchases all over the place (and presumably taking a cut). But Pinterest was slow to embrace shopping and buying features, slow to embrace the creator economy, and generally slow to keep up with the future of commerce.
Ready, on the other hand, has a long track record of being ahead of the game in e-commerce. He was a top executive at both Venmo and PayPal before going to Google in 2020 to run its various commerce projects. Google Shopping definitely hasn’t taken over the world in the last two years, but Ready definitely had an impact: commerce became a core part of YouTube’s future, Google revamped the way Shopping works, and the company reinvested in its payment systems like Wallet.
And now, Ready seems to have big commerce plans for Pinterest. “In the next phase of our journey, we will help people engage more deeply with all the inspiring products and services they find on our platform so they can build their best lives,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post announcing his move. “As someone who has spent most of my career in commerce and payments, it’s so clear to me that Pinterest has the opportunity to build something unique—something special.”
Ready takes over the company at an interesting time, as the company has pushed hard to lead in creating a better kind of social network while also dealing with internal accusations about a problematic and discriminatory work culture. The rest of the internet is also catching up to Pinterest, as platforms like Snap and YouTube and even Twitter are embracing the shopping-ification of everything. Pinterest had an opportunity to be a major player in digital commerce and maybe still does. But the new CEO is going to have to move quickly.
I’ve always wondered why aside from a handful of peripherals like the and that weird , Sony never really tried to expand the PlayStation brand outside of consoles. And while you won’t find any PS logos on its new line of headsets and monitors, with Inzone it really feels like Sony is finally bringing its wider tech expertise to gaming.
Now the reason we haven’t seen a ton of PlayStation-branded peripherals before is because the Sony most people think about is actually a conglomerate of several companies that make everything from medical diagnostic tools to camera sensors. And in the case of Inzone, its new gaming gear isn’t being made by the same Sony that produces its iconic consoles (Sony Interactive Entertainment) but instead by the Sony that makes everyday consumer gadgets (Sony Corp/Sony Electronics) like TVs and headphones including the excellent .
That’s important because, while these devices have design cues borrowed from the PS5, including their black and white color scheme and sleek sci-fi lines, much of the tech inside has trickled down from a range of Sony Electronics’ devices. And after using a handful of Inzone’s new peripherals for about a week, it really feels like you’re getting a great mix of tech from two different branches of Sony.
Let’s start with Inzone’s headphones which consist of three different models: the entry-level $99 H3, the mid-range $229 H7 and the high-end $299 H9. As the cheapest of the three, the H3 are incredibly simple and straightforward. Unlike their more expensive siblings, they don’t support wireless audio and instead rely on either a 3.5mm cord or a USB cable for connecting to your console or PC. On the bright side, the thick padded headband and cloth earcups make the H3 a joy to wear, even during marathon gaming sessions.
Another bonus is that due to cooperation between two arms of Sony, all Inzone headsets, including the H3, support the PS5’s Tempest 3D audio engine just like you get on the official Pulse 3D headphones. That means you get spatial audio and customizable sound profiles that make it easier to hear things like the footsteps of someone trying to sneak up behind you. That said, with the Pulse 3D also costing just $99 for wireless headphones that are just as comfortable as the H3, I think they’re probably the better buy for anyone on a budget.
Where things get really interesting though is when you move up to the H7 and H9, which feature dual-mode wireless connectivity (Bluetooth and a dedicated 2.4GHz wireless dongle), a slightly more streamlined design and strong battery life. On top of that, the H9 also feature digital noise canceling using the same tech as Sony’s 1000X line, and it shows.
Now I should mention Sony was only able to send out the H3 and H9 for testing, so I’ve been using those for my comparisons. But the H7 and H9 are fairly close in terms of specs, with the main difference being the H7’s lack of exterior RGB lighting, no support for digital noise canceling and the use of cloth earcups instead of the soft fit leather padding you get on the H9 (which is the same material Sony uses on the WH-100XM5). In return, because they don’t have built-in noise canceling, the H7 offer slightly longer battery life (around 40 hours) compared to the H9 (around 32 hours).
Regardless, my time with the H9 so far has been great, and in a lot of ways, they feel like a pair of WH-1000XM5 that have been tuned for gaming. The noise cancellation works wonders for drowning out background sounds, and the super supple leather makes wearing them feel like putting a cloud around your head.
I also really appreciate some of the small details Sony added to the H9. On a lot of headphones that offer two modes of wireless connectivity, you can typically only use one type at a time. But with the H7 and H9s, you can connect to two different devices simultaneously. This means you can use the wireless dongle to connect to your PlayStation or PC, and then use Bluetooth to get audio from your phone. And because the PS5 doesn’t have native support for chat apps like Discord, this makes it much easier to talk to your friends regardless of what platform you’re on at the moment.
Additionally, the H7 and H9 are the only other headphones besides the Pulse 3Ds that can use the PS5’s on-screen status notifications, which means you can see stuff like volume levels, battery status, mic mute, and game/chat balance all at glance. So while they aren’t the PS5’s official headphones, they behave like they are, while also offering even more features and better audio quality. And just like the WH-1000XM5, you can even use your phone to take a picture of your ear, to tune their sound even further.
As for Inzone’s new monitors, there’s the $529 M3 and the $899 M9. However, since the M3 won’t be available until sometime this winter, I’m going to focus on my time with the M9. Featuring a 27-inch 4K IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, the M9 isn’t the biggest or fastest gaming monitor around. But for the money, it packs a ton of features compared to similarly-priced rivals. Not only does it support VRR and NVIDIA G-Sync, it also sports a strong one millisecond gray-to-gray time, DisplayHDR 600 certification and a gamut that covers more than 95 percent of the DCI-P3 spectrum. In short, colors are bright, rich and vivid while also being largely immune from the ghosting you often see on less sophisticated displays.
However, the M9’s biggest advantage is its full-array local dimming (FALD) which is made up of 96 different lighting zones compared to just eight or 16 on competitors like the LG 27GP950 or the Samsung S28AG700. And after seeing the results side-by-side, I was kind of shocked at how much of a difference the M9’s FALD makes. A lot of gamers can spot bloom in games when something bright moves quickly across a dark background, which often produces ring of light around the object. But not only does the M9 almost completely eliminate halos, the ability to adjust lighting zones with greater precision also gives the monitor improved dynamic range. So in games like Elden Ring, I saw backgrounds that were much darker and atmospheric compared to the washed-out gray tones I saw on other monitors. This allows you to get much better contrast and black levels without needing to upgrade to more expensive QD-OLED displays like
And just like its headphones, Inzone’s first monitor has a lot of really thoughtful smaller features. It has a built-in KVM switch, which is extremely useful if you have multiple PCs connected to the same display. It also has a native FPS counter so you can easily keep tabs on performance, while the monitor’s Auto Genre Picture Mode can switch between settings like Cinema Mode and Gaming Mode depending on the content coming from your PS5. And in addition to being height and tilt adjustable, Sony even designed the M9’s stand so that its feet stick out towards the back, which means PC gamers who need to place their keyboard as close as possible to their monitor totally can.
But perhaps my favorite little touch, is the software that allows you to navigate the monitor’s on-screen display with your mouse, instead of having to fumble around with the joystick on the back of the panel. The M9 even comes with built-in stereo speakers, so you can plug in your PS5 and get straight to gaming without worrying about audio. And thanks to two HDMI 2.1 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4 jack, support for video over USB-C (DP Alt mode) and a built-in USB Hub, there’s a wealth of connectivity.
So aside from the H3 which is somewhat basic, I’ve come away quite impressed with Inzone’s first batch of PC and console gaming peripherals. That said, looking at the pedigree of these two faces of Sony, that probably shouldn’t be a surprise. It might not say so on the box, but in a lot of ways, this feels like the marriage between PlayStation and the tech from some of Sony’s best gadgets. But what might be the most promising part is that while Inzone hasn’t shared any future plans just yet, after talking to some of its reps, it’s clear Sony has big plans for its new gaming brand going into 2023 and beyond.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
The news — initially reported by Wareable — was confirmed to The Verge by Qualcomm spokesperson Lauren Miller. The Summit 3 isn’t the first smartwatch to be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus platform, but it is the first to launch with Wear OS 3 already installed. The fact that it also supports iOS is a significant departure from other confirmed Wear OS 3 watches. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 lineup and the forthcoming Google Pixel Watch, for example, are exclusive to Android users.
Older Wear OS 2 and Samsung Tizen-powered smartwatches, while never incredibly popular with iPhone owners, do work with iOS. Wear OS 2 watches running on the 4100 Plus chipset can be upgraded to Wear OS 3 later this year — though it’s still unclear whether they’ll still be iOS-compatible once upgraded. The fact that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and the Pixel Watch eschewed iOS hinted that Wear OS 3 would be a closed ecosystem. However, Montblanc’s decision to support iPhone users suggests that other Wear OS watchmakers like Fossil and Mobvoi could follow suit for future watches or even retain some form of iOS compatibility when upgrading older watches.
According to Miller, the Summit 3 will have a dedicated companion app on both iOS and Android that will act as a “bridge between phone and watch.” That also hints that Fossil and Mobvoi may also have to develop their own apps if they want to keep iOS users in the mix.
But just because the Summit 3 will work with iPhones, that doesn’t mean iOS users will get the same Wear OS 3 experience as Android users.
“Our priority for Wear OS 3 is to focus on quality experiences within the Android ecosystem,” Google spokesperson Ivy Chen Hunt told The Verge. “The Montblanc Summit 3 will run Wear OS 3 and be compatible with iPhones. However, support for apps and experiences will vary by phone platform.” Hunt went on to explain that Google supports iOS with apps and services like YouTube Music and notifications mirroring and that the company plans to expand support in the future.
Given that, it’s probably safe to assume that Wear OS 3 won’t be quite as good on iPhones — at least, not at first. We won’t know how exactly the iOS experience will differ until the Montblanc Summit 3 launches on July 15th. That said, the watch costs an eye-watering €1,250 (roughly $1,300). So while the Summit 3 is technically the first iOS-compatible Wear OS 3 watch, you might be better off waiting for more affordable options from Fossil or Mobvoi, which could arrive later this fall.
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