Best Smart Speakers With Screens

New models from Amazon, Facebook, Google, JBL, and Lenovo add video capabilities to the smart speaker

Smart speaker with screen being used for a family video conference
Photo: Amazon
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It wasn’t long ago that life was simple in the Land of Smart Speakers: You talked to your smart speaker, it talked back, and that was that. But over the past few months, a growing number of smart speaker manufacturers have given consumers another way to control their devices: namely, a screen.

Amazon’s Echo Show, the first mainstream speaker with a screen, was introduced in summer 2017. It was a modest success at best, with unimpressive sound quality, according to CR testers. But that original Show proved to be a trendsetter, inspiring the development of a cluster of newer smart speakers with screens, including those listed below. 

“In general the integral screen provides enhanced interactions with a smart speaker,” says Elias Arias, head of the smart speaker testing program at Consumer Reports. With the screen, you can make sure that your speaker is playing the music you selected, or it can show you a how-to video in the kitchen.

However, these devices aren’t for everyone. One drawback: Audio-only speakers can be placed high on a shelf, while devices with screens demand space on a kitchen counter or a desk.

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Our Top Screen Pick
Amazon Echo Show (2nd Generation)
Amazon Echo Show (2nd Generation)

    Amazon Echo Show (2nd Generation)

    The Amazon Echo Show earned the distinction of being the first smart speaker with a screen in 2017, but the company really got it right with the second generation of the device, introduced in fall 2018.


    The sleeker new Show features a 10-inch touch screen, 3 inches bigger than the previous model’s, and that extra acreage comes in handy whether you’re following a recipe for Bolognese sauce or watching an episode of “Better Call Saul.”


    Our testers gave the Show high marks for versatility as well as ease of use. But most important, the Show produces satisfying sound with impressive bass. Our testers concluded that it’s not only the best-sounding speaker with a screen but also the best-sounding Echo smart speaker of any kind.


    But the Show does have an Achilles’ heel for YouTube fans, which stems from the competition between Amazon and YouTube’s owner, Google. If you want to access the video site on the Show, you have to do it through a browser instead of using an Alexa skill, which means that you won’t have voice controls at your disposal. 

    Facebook's First Smart Speaker
    Facebook Portal+
    Facebook Portal+

      Facebook Portal+

      The Portal+ and slightly smaller and less expensive Portal represent Facebook’s first forays into the smart speaker market. 


      The Portal+ distinguishes itself with the largest smart speaker screen we’ve seen. You can switch the supersized 15.6-inch screen from landscape to portrait mode. The Portal’s screen is smaller at 10.1 inches, but it’s hardly small. 

      Our testers found the initial setup of both Portals to be a bit frustrating, with the devices asking you again and again to log on to your Facebook account.  

      The Portals differ from other smart speakers in that they feature a multilayered digital assistant. Speaking the keyword “portal” allows you to call friends from your Facebook account, a major selling point for the device. To do anything else—listen to the news, turn off the kitchen lights—you use Amazon’s Alexa.


      One other thing to note: Both versions of the Portal incorporate technology that figures out you’re a person, then speaker tracks you around the room. Facebook maintains that the feature is just used to keep you in the frame if you walk around while you’re on a video call, but you can decide if the feature is cool or creepy. 

      High Performance Visuals
      Google Nest Hub
      Google Nest Hub

        Google Nest Hub

        The Google Home Hub is an interesting product with many redeeming qualities, but none of that can overcome the subpar sound quality, which is our most important testing yardstick. Our testers found the bass to be severely lacking while the treble was dry and papery—hardly a great companion for a dance party.


        On the other hand, the Home Hub’s touch-screen display was definitely a bright spot. Unlike most of the newer speakers with screens, the Home Hub doesn’t subscribe to a bigger-is-better philosophy. Its 7-inch touch screen is either compact or puny—take your pick—but either way it helps the device occupy minimal counter space.


        Our testers found the Home Hub’s screen to perform well in both bright and low light. Add in a wide viewing angle (the picture looks good even when seen from the side) and rich colors and the result is a satisfying small-scale viewing experience. 


        From a privacy point of view, the Home Hub is the only smart speaker in this group that doesn’t have a camera. You won’t be making video calls with it—or worrying about walking by it in your bathrobe.

        Great Sound With Google Power
        JBL Link View
        JBL Link View

          JBL Link View

          If you’re a Google fan when it comes to digital assistants, the JBL Link View could be a solid choice for a smart speaker with a screen. Google Assistant offers fewer options for third-party skills than Amazon’s Alexa, but some users find Google’s interface to be more intuitive, especially when they’re using a device with a screen. 


          Sonically, the oval-shaped Link View features a pair of stereo speakers with a subwoofer flanking its 8-inch touch screen. The JBL’s design puts the speakers front and center, though it gives the device a somewhat larger footprint. The bass is deep but a bit boomy, while the mellow midrange and trebles are forgiving of less-than-great source material.

          Big Screen, Small Sound
          Lenovo Smart Display 10"
          Lenovo Smart Display 10"

            Lenovo Smart Display 10"

            The Lenovo also gets its artificial intelligence through Google Assistant, but our testers rated it lower than the Link View. The Lenovo is nicely designed, featuring a large 10-inch touch screen, but with a side-mounted speaker it takes up a lot of real estate on a desk or a kitchen counter.

            The Lenovo’s main shortcoming, however, is its less-than-stellar sound quality. Despite the unit’s substantial size, the sound was surprisingly thin, with a harsh midrange and sizzly trebles. The bass was also notably anemic, making the Lenovo a less-than-ideal partner for relaxing with cocktail lounge tunes from Tony Bennett.


            Editor's Note: A previous version of this article said that the Facebook Portal and Portal + use facial recognition to keep the camera focused on users during video calls. The devices recognize human figures, but do not use facial recognition technology to identify individuals.

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            Allen St. John

            I believe that technology has the power to change our lives—for better or for worse. That's why I’ve spent my life reporting and writing about it for outlets of all sorts, from newspapers (such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times) to magazines (Popular Mechanics and Rolling Stone) and even my own books ("Newton’s Football" and "Clapton’s Guitar"). For me, there's no better way to spend a day than talking to a bunch of experts about an important subject and then writing a story that'll help others be smarter and better informed.