Smart displays have evolved quite a bit since the debut of Amazon’s first Echo Show in 2017. In fact, the category didn’t really get anywhere until Google joined the fray with its own line of devices about a year later. Now, these two companies essentially dominate the smart display scene, with each offering a screen-equipped smart assistant.

It’s that screen that could make smart displays even more useful Smart speakers. Instead of just having the voice assistant read out the current weather report, for example, you can also see a five-day weather forecast. The same is true when you ask for your shopping list or calendar; It’s easier to simply read the entire list or your daily appointments at a glance. Additionally, touchscreens provide other features that speakers can’t, like watching videos or checking your webcam to see who’s at your front door. We’ve tested and used many smart displays over the years, and below is our top picks for the best smart displays you can get today.

Photography by Sherilyn Low/Engadget

Read our full article Google Nest Hub (2nd generation) review.

Our favorite smart display with Google Assistant is Second generation Google Nest Hub. Its 7-inch size is a perfect fit for many rooms, and its unobtrusive design combined with its soft fabric exterior blends nicely with most home decor. It does everything we think most people want in a smart display, like playing YouTube videos, displaying step-by-step cooking instructions, providing easy-to-use smart home controls, and giving users the ability to check Nest security cameras if they have any.

In fact, the Nest Hub is especially useful as part of a security system if you have one Nest video doorbellThe camera view of who is at the front door will appear on the screen. An ambient light sensor helps detect the light and color temperature in the environment and adjusts the screen to match. Plus, if you choose, it can help you track your sleep patterns if placed next to your bed.

Another feature of the Nest Hub is actually a lack thereof: it doesn’t have a camera. This gives it an extra layer of privacy that many people crave, and it is also more suitable for personal spaces such as the bedroom. Sure, you can also cover the camera with a shutter, but with the Nest Hub, you don’t have to remember to do that.

We would be remiss not to mention Google Pixel Tablet Here, since it’s a pad that can double as a smart display when used with its own charging dock. The set costs $420, which isn’t too bad considering you’re getting two devices in one, but it’s pricey if you’re just looking for a smart display. If that’s your case, you’ll be better off with the Nest Hub (and you’ll get the extra money).


  • Improve sound quality
  • Faster performance when processing voice requests
  • User-friendly on-screen interface
  • Improved Google Assistant features

  • The sleep sensing feature is a bit questionable

$100 at Verizon

Photography by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Read our full article Google Nest Hub Max review

If you love Google but miss a camera for video calls, or just prefer a larger screen, consider Google Nest Hub Max. At 10 inches instead of seven, its screen works much better for watching videos from YouTube and YouTube TV. It’s especially useful in the kitchen, where it acts as a kind of portable TV, and you can see more step-by-step cooking instructions at a glance. A larger screen also means a larger picture frame, which some may prefer.

As mentioned earlier, the Nest Hub Max adds a camera to the mix. It doesn’t have a physical shutter, which is a concern, but you can close it using an electronic key. You can use the camera to make video calls with Google Duo as well as Zoom, and it can also work as a Nest Cam to help you keep an eye on your home when you’re away. Another feature of the camera is the addition of Face Match for authentication purposes, which we found to be a bit more accurate than just using Voice Match.

Last but not least, the Nest Hub Max camera adds a unique gesture feature that lets you play and pause media simply by raising your hand to the screen. This hands-free control option isn’t strictly necessary, but it can be useful if you’re in a noisy environment and just want the music to stop without having to yell at everyone. Or maybe your hands are messy while cooking and you don’t want to dirty the screen.


  • Beautiful 10-inch screen
  • Great sound quality
  • Customized and useful face matching features
  • It doubles as a Nest camera

  • Big footprint
  • On the expensive side

$229 at QVC


Our favorite Amazon smart display is the latest Echo display 8. Its 8-inch screen is just right; It doesn’t take up as much space as the Echo Show 10 with its larger screen, but it’s also more suitable for watching videos than the smaller one. Echo display 5. Like Amazon’s other smart displays, it has a built-in camera, but there’s a physical camera cover to help alleviate privacy concerns.

The Amazon Echo Show 8 is a compelling option if you want the option of using your smart display to make video calls. Not only is the quality of the 13MP camera great, but the Show 8 also has a feature that automatically identifies your face and tracks your movements during video calls. This is useful if you want to move around while chatting, or if you have rambunctious kids and pets running around the house and want to engage them in the conversation. You can use the Echo Show 8 to make calls between other Echo Show displays, or through Skype or Zoom.

Like other smart displays, the Echo Show 8 also works as a digital photo frame and can be used to follow the news, check the weather, and control smart home devices. If you like to use your smart display to play music, we also like the Echo Show 8’s sound quality for its deep bass and rich tone. The latest model also includes support for Visual ID, which uses facial recognition to identify who is using the device and customize on-screen information for them, as well as a built-in Zigbee smart home hub.


  • 8-inch display balances compact design with a solid display
  • Improved 13MP camera with Visual ID
  • Improve sound quality
  • Physical camera shutter

  • The screen resolution is 1280 x 800 pixels

$95 at Kohl’s


With a screen size of only 5.5 inches Echo display 5 It is one of the smallest smart displays on the market, and as a result, it will work well on a desk or nightstand. In fact, one of the reasons we love the Echo Show 5 so much is that it works as an excellent smart alarm clock. It has an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts screen brightness; Click to snooze function so you can hit the top of it for a few extra minutes of sleep; Plus a sunrise alarm that slowly lights up the screen to gently wake you up.

The Echo Show 5 has a camera, which might make you feel uncomfortable if you’re concerned about privacy, especially if it’s supposed to be next to your bed. However, it does have a physical camera cover, which can help alleviate those concerns.


  • Compact design
  • Built-in ambient light sensor
  • Useful sunrise alarm feature

  • The sound quality isn’t as strong as the larger Echo offerings

$90 at Amazon

Photography by Nicole Lee/Engadget

Read our full article Amazon Echo Show 15 review

There really is nothing else like it Echo display 15, which features a 15.6-inch touchscreen and a wall-mounted design that seems to nod to the small TVs many of our parents had in their kitchens back in the day. In fact, Amazon is promoting the Display 15 as the perfect smart display for the kitchen since it’s one of the most central rooms in the home and this smart display offers features like visual identity, widgets, and built-in gadgets. Fire TV program Which all family members can benefit from.

Similar to Google’s Face Match feature, Visual ID uses facial recognition to identify different family members and display information relevant to who is using it. You can also leave notes for other people in your home, and Show 15 will display them when that person walks by. Widgets are customizable bits of information on the touch screen that display things like a calendar with appointments, sticky notes, weather forecasts, and more. One of the native tools allows you to view security camera feeds with just one click.

But arguably one of the best ways to take advantage of the Echo Show 15’s big screen is to watch videos. The screen’s 1920 x 1080 resolution is the best of any Echo Show, and with Fire TV built-in, you can use the Show 15 as a mini TV for streaming Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, YouTube, and of course Prime Video. For this reason alone, a smart display could be the one that gets the most out of passive use at home – provided you have enough space for it.


  • The 15.6-inch screen is great for watching videos
  • Wall-mounted design (can be placed on table top with optional accessory)
  • The built-in Fire TV software allows it to double in size as a small TV

  • Faint camera for video chats

$280 at Kohl’s

The first question you should ask when looking for the best smart display for you is whether you prefer Amazon’s or Google’s ecosystem. If you have a lot of Google smart devices in your home, like Nest thermostats and security cameras, or even if you use a Google Pixel smartphone as a daily driver, a Google-powered model might make more sense. If you have Amazon products, like the Fire TV Stick or Ring Camera, Amazon will obviously be a better choice from a compatibility standpoint. Of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to have products from competing companies in the same home, but you need to be aware that they may not work seamlessly with each other from the beginning.

Apart from that, the two systems also offer some unique features. Google, for example, works best if you have an existing Google account and use services like Calendar and Photos. We especially like Google’s smart displays because they work well with digital photo frames. You can set it up to automatically pull photos of friends and family from your Google Photos library, and the algorithm is smart enough to use what it thinks are your best shots — so there’s less chance of blurry photos or photos of your eyes half-closed showing up, for example. But although you can use Amazon’s displays as digital photo frames, the process isn’t quite as intuitive as Google’s, and Amazon doesn’t have anything that can compare to Google’s image sorting algorithm.

It may seem like a minor point, but since the screen is in standby mode 90 percent of the time, its secondary function as a digital photo frame is very welcome. All Google smart displays also support YouTube, YouTube TV, step-by-step cooking instructions, and all the usual Google Assistant features, like weather reports. Like the assistant on your phone, it also has voice recognition, so only you can see your calendar appointments and not everyone else’s.

Amazon’s smart displays, on the other hand, are a little different. Instead of YouTube, they offer some alternative video streaming options, including Amazon Prime, NBC, and Hulu. It also comes with two browsers (Silk and Firefox), which you can use to search the web or watch YouTube videos — a useful enough workaround given the lack of a dedicated app. Amazon’s devices also provide step-by-step cooking instructions, thanks to collaborations with sources like SideChef and AllRecipes. Cooking instructions sometimes include short videos as well.

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