Lenovo Tab 4 Home Assistant review: Hands on with Lenovo’s answer to Amazon’s Echo Show
Lenovo’s Tab 4 was always intended to be an affordable, family-focused Android tablet. Initially it was designed to be a way to watch Netflix or browse the web without worry of your kids sullying your expensive iPad or Samsung S Tab with their filthy finger prods.
As part of this expansion into making the Tab 4 a true family device, Lenovo announced at this year’s IFA that it would be bringing a smart speaker to the Tab 4. Intended to simply slot onto the side of the Tab 4, Lenovo’s Home Assistant should give Amazon’s Echo Show a good run for its money – especially as it runs on Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.[gallery:1]
Tab 4 Home Assistant review: UK price, release date and specifications
Screen: Tab 4’s 8in or 10in screen
Speakers: 2 x 3W
Dimensions: 130 x 177.8 x 99.6 mm (WLH)
Price: €299 (UK TBC)
Release date: October 2017
Tab 4 Home Assistant review: Design, key features and first impressions
Lenovo’s Tab 4 has been available to consumers since the start of this year and, at the time of release, presented an affordable and durable home tablet. It wasn’t anything to shout home about on the tablet front, but with the introduction of Lenovo’s home assistant, suddenly it’s far more desirable for those waiting for Amazon’s Echo Show.
Working with either the Tab 4 8 or Tab 4 10 variations via a switchable adapter, Lenovo’s Alexa-powered Home Assistant is a genuinely brilliant product idea. Consumers can pick up the Lenovo Tab 4 for around £250, but by snapping up the Lenovo Tab 4 Home Assistant pack, you could have a product that does something very similar to the as-yet-unreleased Echo Show for under €300 (there’s currently no confirmed UK price).[gallery:3]
For that price, you’re getting a Tab 4 – which can be detached and used as you please – along with Lenovo’s Home Assistant speaker. The speaker can be used like an Amazon Echo when not connected to the tablet too, so it’s an absolute steal if you’ve not already got an Echo in your home.
The Tab 4 Home Assistant is also smartly designed. It’s an angled cylindrical speaker with two microphones and two speakers all contained within a device that’s no taller than 99.6mm. The angling of the speaker means that the Tab 4 screen is sat slanting upwards, making it easier to see when it’s hooked in. There’s also a big mute button located on the top of the device that lights up red when pressed, so it’s quite clear when the device isn’t listening out for the “Alexa” command.
The visual feedback shown on the Tab 4 screen is exactly the same as you’d find on the Echo Show. Ask it to play music, or a YouTube video and it’ll show that on the screen too. In theory you can ask for directions and it’d be able to display it on the Tab 4 screen as a map. In fact, the only thing Lenovo says the Home Assistant isn’t capable of doing – which the Echo Show can – is making video calls.[gallery:4]
If that’s a deal-breaker for you, not all hope is lost. Lenovo’s Tab 4 setup isn’t capable because Amazon hasn’t made that feature available to manufacturers via its Alexa API. The moment Amazon does update its API, Lenovo’s Home Assistant pack jumps in line with Amazon’s own device.
Tab 4 Home Assistant review: Early verdict
So far Lenovo’s Home Assistant add-on for its Tab 4 range seems like an absolute no-brainer. The Chinese manufacturer is bringing a product to market before Amazon manages to, and it’s doing so in a more versatile way.
My only real gripe with the system during my hands-on time was how cumbersome it was to reconnect the Tab 4 once you had pulled it out of the housing. But that’s something that just takes time to get used to. The Home Assistant stand is also flexible enough that even future versions of the Tab 4 should work without issue thanks to interchangeable connectors.[gallery:5]
There may be no UK price just yet, but if we get the same deal as the rest of Europe, those wanting an Amazon Echo Show could well be better off snapping up Lenovo’s offering. It’s likely to be more expensive than the Echo Show when it eventually launches – thanks to Amazon’s ability to subsidise the price of its products – but as the Lenovo Tab 4 Home Assistant pack is more versatile than Amazon’s device, and is launching this October, it’s a hard deal to pass up.