BERLIN—Phones, TVs, tablets, and smartwatches in the US, UK, and Germany are all getting Amazon Alexa, but if there’s one complaint about using a voice Assistant on a phone or tablet, it’s that voice feedback often isn’t very audible.
Lenovo takes that into account with its Home Assistant Pack. It consists of a tablet in the Tab 4 series—Tab 4 8, Tab 4 10, Tab 4 8 Plus, or Tab 4 10 Plus—paired with a speaker that resembles the Amazon Echo.
Using a special connector, you can dock the tablet into the speaker, turning the Tab 4 into a voice-activated smart assistant with a screen, similar to the Amazon Echo Show. Aside from the standard audible feedback, you also get a visual response. The screen acknowledges that Alexa is activated and can pull up information like the weather, calendar, and music through display cards in the Home Assistant interface.
Having a screen doesn’t mean the connected speaker is useless, though. The added speaker boosts the audio of the Tab 4 significantly, making Alexa’s responses much easier to hear due to a pair of 3W speakers. While I was listening to music playback, the sound was loud and easy to hear despite being in a noisy environment. Alexa was also more responsive, using far-field detection to recognize the speakers voice via a pair of built-in mics.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between the Home Assistant and the Lenovo Smart Assistant announced at CES, the latter is a much more powerful speaker. It has a 5W Trebel, 10W Woofer, and a Harmon Kardon edition with an extra 2-inch sound cavity that gives you a clearer tweeter and deeper bass. Music and other audio on the Smart Assistant will be louder and higher quality than on the Home Assistant. That said, you don’t get a screen for visual feedback, making the Home Assistant a bit more engaging.
The Home Assistant Pack is available for $79.99 starting in October for the US, UK, and Germany, though pricing will vary from country to country. A separate Lenovo Tab 4 device is required to use the Home Assistant Pack.