Smart Displays: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

Whether you want to keep an eye on your baby monitor or hear the daily news, smart displays can help you out.

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Chances are you’ve heard of — and probably used — digital assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apple’s Siri. If you love the convenience of these voice-controlled systems, smart displays will be right up your alley.

What Is a Smart Display?

Put simply, smart displays are internet-connected devices that pair digital assistants with an integrated screen. One popular example is the Amazon Echo Show, which has a 10-in. high-definition display and gives you access to Amazon Alexa.

If this sounds similar to your iPad or other tablet, that’s because it is. The two devices do a lot of the same things. But smart displays are less portable (they generally must remain plugged in) and offer less functionality. Plus, your smart display will likely have better voice commands than a tablet since this is the product’s main function.

What Can You Do With a Smart Display?

Smart displays offer many of the same capabilities as a digital assistant, along with video-focused functionalities. Besides basic tasks like giving the weather forecast or completing simple math, your smart display lets you:

  • Video chat with friends and family
  • View video feeds of compatible smart cameras
  • Control other smart devices in your home
  • Search for and display recipes
  • Play news clips
  • Put your favorite photos on display
  • Play videos and/or music

These are a few popular functions of smart displays, but most devices have a wide variety of skills and integrations for you to discover. In short, they offer the same hands-free operation as digital assistants with the added benefit of visual content.

How Much Do Smart Displays Cost?

If you’re in the market for a smart display, options start at around $80 and go up to $200 or more, typically depending on screen size. There are lots of smart displays available, and no matter which tech brand you prefer — Amazon, Google, and so on — there’s likely a compatible smart display.

One of most popular smart displays is the Amazon Echo Show, which comes in several sizes. An Echo Show with a 5-in. screen retails for around $90, while the full-size 10-in. model costs $230.

Other popular models include the Google Nest Hub retailing for $130, and the Lenovo Smart Display for $200. Even Facebook has its own line, Portal smart displays, which cost around $180 and focus on video calling.

The one player noticeably absent from the smart display market is Apple, which still solely offers its HomePod smart speaker and digital assistant for a cool $300.

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau is freelance writer specializing in fashion, beauty, home, smart technology and general lifestyle content. She holds a degree in fashion merchandising from the University of Rhode Island and jumps at any opportunity to combine her love for fashion and writing.

Camryn is a regular contributor to popular media sites such as Martha Stewart, Food52, InStyle, Taste of Home, USA Today, Reviewed.com, The Spruce, Elite Daily and The Everygirl. She has also worked with several Fortune 500 companies to create engaging articles for their content marketing initiatives. Despite pressure from her peers, she remains on team #NoOxfordComma.