Lenovo picks Alexa's brain for its new Smart Assistant
Amazon's cloud-based personal assistant, Alexa, usually calls the Echo speaker home, but she's been known to occasionally step into lamps and robots. Now she has another residence in Lenovo's Smart Assistant, a new Echo-like device that picks up voice commands and replies in kind. If better sound quality is your jam, there's a Harman Kardon speaker edition, and the company is also rolling out a wireless Smart Storage device with a capacity of up to 6 TB.
Like Amazon Echo and Google Home, the Lenovo Smart Assistant is essentially a voice-activated speaker. Commands are picked up through an array of eight 360-degree, far-field microphones, and with noise suppression and acoustic echo cancellation, they're reportedly strong enough to hear you giving instructions from as far away as 16 ft (4.9 m).
Those commands can make use of Alexa's usual roster of Skills, including searching the web, playing music, creating or updating lists, setting reminders, and controlling other devices. When it talks back or plays media, it does so through a speaker with 5-W treble and a 10-W woofer, but audiophiles might prefer the deeper bass and clearer sound that the Harman Kardon edition brings thanks to an extra 2-inch sound cavity.
While the Smart Assistant has an 8 GB hard drive built in, Lenovo's Smart Storage device can complement that with an extra 2 TB or 6 TB, within a small squashed-rectangle frame of 4.5 x 4.5 x 7.1 in (11.5 x 11.5 x 18 cm). Designed to be the storage hub of a home or office, the Smart Storage connects via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB and can be set to automatically sync with multiple devices. It can even arrange photos by who's in them, thanks to on-board facial recognition software.
The Lenovo Smart Assistant will be available for US$130, in a choice of gray, green and orange, while the Harman Kardon Edition costs an extra $50 and comes in black. The Smart Storage starts at $140, and the whole range, which Lenovo is showing off at CES this week, will be available from May.