Home / Features / Best smart display 2022: the top connected screens for your home

Best smart display 2022: the top connected screens for your home

Control panels for your pad

Every home has a hub. Some families use a whiteboard for write-and-wipe reminders. Others stick calendar commitments to the fridge. But only the best smart displays can recognise faces and nudge you not to neglect your chores. Creepy, but more effective than littering the house with scrap paper prompts.

More than countertop tablets, the top smart displays serve as nerve centres for everyone in your abode. From controlling connected tech and setting personalised alerts, to looking up recipes, streaming entertainment and dropping in on unsuspecting relatives, these panels can assist with almost every domestic demand.

Keen on a screen? They come in a range of shapes and sizes, from compact alarm clocks to wall-spanning panels. The list below features our pick of the best smart displays for every space and budget. So you can upgrade your pad’s approach to admin, whether you’re installed in a flat or a four-bed semi.


Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd gen)

Best smart display: Echo Show 8

Amazon’s medium Echo Show is the Goldilocks option: just right for most people. At 8in, its touchscreen is big enough for browsing, binge-watching and button-pushing, yet the Show’s free-standing form is still small enough not to dominate your countertop. A pair of 2in speaker drivers also deliver audio that’s fine for casual kitchen listening, even if the 1280×800 screen resolution isn’t the sharpest.

Aping the Facebook Portal and Apple’s Centre Stage, the upgraded 13MP camera can digitally track your face around the frame – so callers will always get a good look at your mug, even if you’re pacing the place. Anyone with an Echo device or the Alexa app can hop on a group call, while Zoom support means you hit up the boss from your home office. The cam can also be used to keep an eye on your abode when you’re out and about.

Alexa’s installed as standard, as are all the smart home controls and tools you’d expect from an Amazon hub. You can also expand your Echo’s skill set with a range of third-party apps and services, including Netflix and Spotify.

Sharing your Show? New Visual ID smarts can be trained to recognise your face and display personalised content. Don’t like looking down on your smart display? The optional magnetic stand makes it easy to tilt and tweak the viewing angle.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Small but perfectly formed, the updated Echo Show 8 hits the smart screen sweet spot with punchy speakers, a clever webcam and solid app support

TECH SPECS

Display: 8in 1280×800 • Speakers: 2x 2in drivers • Camera: 13MP • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Dimensions: 148x86x73mm


Google Nest Hub (2nd gen)

A streamlined smart screen that nails the basics, Google’s second-gen Nest Hub is a neat fit for any shelf. Styling refinements are minor: large bezels still frame the display, but the glass now extends to the edges. The panel angle is fixed as before, with a familiar fabric wrapping the base. It’s as functional, friendly and low-profile as the original.

No lens means no video calling, which will rule out the Nest Hub for some. But if you’re not a Zoomer – or you’re not sure about Google having a peeper in your pad – the camera’s absence won’t concern you. Plus you can still get feedback on your sleep patterns, courtesy of Google’s motion-detecting Soli chip.

It handles all the standard smart stuff, too. Three near-field mics mean the Nest Hub can detect your dulcet tones better, with Google Assistant listening for your commands. Visuals complement your interactions with the digital helper, from weather cards to on-screen Spotify controls. Smart home control is deeply integrated as well, with Thread support for seamless connection with compatible kit.

Keen to stream while you steam the veg? While the low-res 7in panel isn’t perfect for movie marathons, it’s absolutely fine for background box-sets – especially with the improved speaker delivering more authoritative audio. Plus you get support for Netflix, Disney+, All4 and YouTube baked in, as well as Chromecast functionality.

Stuff says: ★★★★

Cam-free and relatively compact, Google’s smallest display is a streamlined screen for easy smart assistance – and it’s got solid streaming skills, too

TECH SPECS

Display: 7in 1024×600 • Speakers: 1x 1.7in driver • Camera: N/A • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Thread • Dimensions: 177.4×120.4×69.5mm


Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd gen)

Tablet or speaker? How about both. The third-gen Echo Show 10 revamps the design of Amazon’s 10.1in smart display to create a hybrid hub for your smart home. And it’s no static screen: equipped with a brushless motor, tracking tech means the Show can automatically rotate to face you.

Dialling your loved ones? Feel free to walk around the room, because the Echo Show 10 will keep you framed and centred – not just by digitally panning with the 13MP camera, but also by physically rotating the touchscreen panel through a 175-degree arc. The same skill can be used for wider security coverage when you’re away, while the camera cover provides privacy with a flick.

Its pivoting trick does make the Echo Show 10 trickier to place than a wedge-shaped Show: the panel needs space to spin around the speaker base. The screen itself isn’t the sharpest at 1200×800, while hefty bezels make the whole unit look clumsier than it could.

On the flip side, that sonic stand can kick out serious beats, courtesy of two 2in tweets and a 3in woofer inside. Helpfully, the Echo Show 10 also serves as a Zigbee bridge, meaning you can connect compatible devices directly.

Stuff says: ★★★★

Spinning isn’t an essential trick, but if you want a sweet-sounding hub that’s always there to face you, the Echo Show 10 should turn your head

TECH SPECS

Display: 10.1in 1280×800 • Speakers: 2x 1in tweeters, 1x 3in woofer • Camera: 13MP • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Dimensions: 251x230x172mm


Google Nest Hub Max

Take a fabric-wrapped stand. Equip it with a 75mm bass woofer and two 18mm tweeters, then stick a slim 10in tablet on top. What have you got? Google’s Nest Hub Max – one of the best smart displays for entertainment.

Styled like the fusion of a Bluetooth speaker and touchscreen slate, the Nest Hub Max is a solid hub for your smart home. Whether checking recipes, streaming YouTube or viewing live feeds from Nest cams, its 10in panel is ideal for Google’s bright and tidy interface.

There’s a dedicated panel for controlling your connected tech with a few taps. Got your hands full? Google Assistant is baked-in as well, so you can issue commands with your voice. Feature-rich info cards complement most interactions with the digital helper, filling the screen with relevant info.

It’s no Sonos One, but the speaker setup inside the Nest Hub Max also gives it impressive audio chops: there’s punch to the output that’s plenty good enough for kitchen tunes.

Installed in a shared house? The 6.5MP camera might not be the sharpest around, but it can identify the faces of up to six people – ensuring only you get to see your messages. It can work as a motion-sensitive Nest security cam, too. There’s a switch on the rear to disable the lens and mics, but not physical shutter to guarantee privacy.

Stuff says: ★★★★

With solid audio, a sizeable screen and clever face-tracking features, this is feature-packed control panel for your Google smart home

TECH SPECS

Display: 10in 1280×800 • Speakers: 2x 0.7in tweeters, 1x 3in woofer • Camera: 6.5MP • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Dimensions: 250.1×182.55×101.23mm


Amazon Echo Show 15

The largest Echo Show is unlike any Amazon device to date. With picture-frame styling, it resembles a scaled-up Facebook Portal. Like the Portal, the boxy Echo Show 15 can be fitted with an optional stand. But its true skills are revealed when you mount it to a wall.

Arranged in portrait or landscape, it’s the ultimate family hub. Its 15.6in Full HD display is home to a library of polished widgets, all powered by Alexa. From sticky notes to shopping lists to schedules, these are designed to keep your life in order. And while its 5MP camera isn’t the sharpest in the Echo stable, it does benefit from face-recognition. Backed up by Voice ID, it means family members will see personalised content and reminders.

The extra screen real estate transforms the Echo Show experience. It’s wicked for watching Netflix shows, firing up feeds from connected cameras or hopping on a group video call. Plus you can multi-task – ideal for keeping an eye on the kids while you make dinner.

It still needs a larger arsenal of third-party widgets, plus YouTube support. And it naturally lacks the audio oomph of the Echo Show 10. But it’s also the neatest, smartest Amazon display to date. Despite its size, it’s the easiest to live with and the easiest to hide – especially if you use the Photo Frame feature.

Stuff says: ★★★★★

Wall-mounting won’t be for everyone, but Amazon’s largest smart display transforms the Alexa experience with a slick widget interface and useful face-recognition

TECH SPECS

Display: 5.5in 960×480 • Speakers: 1x 1.6in driver • Camera: 2MP • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Dimensions: 148x86x73mm


Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen)

Dinky indeed, the Echo Show 5 has a screen smaller than most modern smartphones. So if you’ve already got one of those, is it really worth adding Amazon’s compact panel to your pad? If you want an affordable, accessible smart display with a modest footprint yet all the skills of its bigger siblings, the answer is yes.

Because it shares the same form factor as the first-gen Echo Show 5, the second edition is just as brilliant for bedside tables. Which is handy, because it’s got all the smarts you need to start the day right: alarms, weather updates, news briefings, morning music and automated routines to take away the pain of bleary-eyed admin.

Sure, the diminutive display isn’t ideal for streaming shows, especially with a limited 960×480 pixel resolution. Nor will the single 1.6in speaker start any house parties – and unlike its predecessor, there’s no 3.5mm for hooking up external speakers. But at 5.5in, the screen is fine for interacting with info cards and just about big enough for hopping on calls to your family. Plus pop one in the corner of a room and it can keep a watchful eye using its upgraded 2MP camera.

Stuff says: ★★★★

Small enough for any shelf, Amazon’s dinkiest screen makes a winning addition to any bedside table – without sacrificing on smarts

TECH SPECS

Display: 5.5in 960×480 • Speakers: 1x 1.6in driver • Camera: 2MP • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Dimensions: 148x86x73mm


Facebook Portal

Designed to ape a box frame, Facebook’s low-profile panel puts socialising top of the agenda. With neat lines and understated styling, it stands out less than certain screens in this list – which is no bad thing. A fixed leg lets you prop the Portal in portrait or landscape, although it sticks out quite a bit at the back.

Filling the front is a 10.1in touchscreen display that’s bright and vibrant, even if its reflective finish can limit visibility. A 13MP camera resides above the top-right corner of the screen. Offset to work in either orientation, its asymmetrical setup tends to draw the eye. Like to walk and talk? Smart Camera trickery tracks subjects, automatically panning to keep them centred. This works well, bar the occasional dramatic zoom during calls.

The simple, polished interface is geared around Facebook’s comms tools: you’ll need a Facebook or WhatsApp account to set it up. The pay-off is seamless integration with your social accounts. The Superframe slideshow mode can pull in your Instagram snaps, for example.

Don’t want to contact colleagues through Messenger? The app catalogue is pretty limited, but it does include Zoom. There’s also Alexa for smart assistance, while Spotify support means you can fire up your favourite playlist. What you don’t get is Netflix or YouTube, so the Portal’s not the best smart display for streaming shows.

Stuff says: ★★★★

A stylish smart display that’s light on apps but neat for keeping in touch – provided you’re a Facebook user

TECH SPECS

Display: 10.1in 1280×800 • Speakers: Front-porting stereo speakers, rear woofer • Camera: 13MP • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Dimensions: 260x179x141mm


Lenovo Smart Clock

Some smart displays try to do it all. Lenovo’s Smart Clock isn’t one of them: with a form factor fit for any bedside table, it’s aiming only to replace your current waking aid with something cuter and cleverer. Clad in a cosy fabric finish, the Smart Clock feels minimalist but friendly.

On paper, its 4in touchscreen seems tiny, with an equally limited resolution of 800×480. But those proportions are perfect for bedside duties: alarms, notifications and weather cards are all clear and readable. The chunky bezel could do with trimming down, although it does add to the Smart Clock’s cheerful character – and the panel itself is perfectly responsive.

Though it’s an alarm clock first and foremost, the Smart Clock also does enough to justify its name. Don’t fancy swiping through the uncluttered interface? Google Assistant is built-in, with all the voice-activated skills you’d expect. There’s also a wake-up routine which can trigger connected lights to ease you into – or out of – the day.

That said, you don’t get the full visual interactivity of larger Google Nest displays. Ask Google Assistant a question and you’ll generally be looking at a black screen while it answers, for example. But see the Lenovo Smart Clock as an affordable alarm clock with extra ticks and you won’t be disappointed.

Stuff says: ★★★★

Other smart displays do more, but if you’re looking for a smart alarm clock, there’s plenty to love about Lenovo’s little screen

TECH SPECS

Display: 4in 800×480 • Speakers: 1x 1.5in driver • Camera: N/A • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Dimensions: 121x84x64mm