Tech know: smart alarm clocks

Waking you in the morning and then telling you about your day, the latest smart alarm clocks bring Google and Amazon's smart assistants to life.

With a 4 and 5.5-inch touchscreen respectively, the Lenovo Smart Clock and Amazon Echo Show 5 are just the right size to live on your bedside table, although they would also be at home on the kitchen bench or bathroom sink.

The Lenovo clock is powered by Google Assistant, while the Echo Show 5 plays host to Amazon's Alexa. Grabbing their attention with "OK Google" or "Alexa", the smart clocks can answer your queries, play music, set alarms and timers, check your calendar, control smart home gear and much more.

The Lenovo smart alarm clock.

Only Amazon's speaker can recognise individual voices in your home to offer personalised answers to questions such as "what's on my calendar today?". The Google-powered Lenovo can't manage this trick and assumes any voice is the primary Google account holder – even though the "Voice Match" feature is available using Google's own Google Home smart screens (which are too large for your average bedside table).

The choice primarily comes down to whether your smart home is on Team Google or Team Amazon. If you're yet to swear your allegiance, Amazon's Echo Show 5 comes out ahead on screen size and sound quality, along with photo frame features, but the Lenovo might win you over if you're looking for something really small and unobtrusive.

Lenovo Smart Clock $129
The Lenovo's more compact size makes it easier to tuck away in a small space. Both smart clocks automatically dim when the lights go out but the Lenovo's screen gets dimmer so it's less likely to bother light sleepers. The Lenovo lacks a built-in camera for video chat, which might suit some people, but the Amazon's camera does have a sliding lens cover to help protect your privacy.

Amazon’s Echo Show 5, smart alarm clock.

Amazon Echo Show 5 $129
The Show 5's larger screen makes it easier to read from across the room, while its speaker does a better job of filling the room with music. The screen can also double as a digital photo frame. Both smart clocks can show you the live view from compatible security cameras, but only the Amazon can play streaming video – although you miss out on Netflix and YouTube in favour of Amazon Prime Video.

If you want a larger smart screen for the living area then check Amazon's Echo Show and Google's Next Hub Max, which have an iPad-esque 10-inch screen. They each have a built-in camera for making video calls to family and friends plus, when it's time to rock, they pump out enough sound to fill a mid-sized room.

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