The latest entry in the growing crowd of smart displays comes from a surprising source -- KitchenAid. The home appliance brand, which is owned by Whirlpool, is at CES for the first time and it's rocking up at the smart home with an elegant-looking voice activated touchscreen complete with Google Assistant.
The KitchenAid Smart Display has a sleek and understated design dominated by a 10-inch screen. It doesn't have the bold colors that you might hope for if you're a fan of the company's classic stand mixers, but the silver frame looks polished nevertheless. Even better, it's rated for IPX-5 water-resistance, so it can stand up to your kitchen's splashes.
Due out in the second half of 2019, the KitchenAid Smart Display will respond to your voice commands through Google Assistant. You can use the screen to watch videos on YouTube and make video calls. You can also use the touchscreen to control your smart home gadgets and search local restaurants.
Joining a competent crowd
The touchscreen uses Android Things, Google's trimmed-down operating system meant for smart home gadgets. Every other third-party smart display with Google Assistant makes use of Android Things, so expect a similar set of features as the existing Lenovo Smart Display, the JBL Link View and the LG WK9. The Google Home Hub offers the same features and looks the same in practice, though it uses the Chromecast operating system.
The general competence of smart displays with Google Assistant bodes well for the KitchenAid smart display. Google makes good use of the screen to show you info after you ask a question. Controlling smart home devices is intuitive both with your voice and with touch. The smart displays we've tested will scroll through a customized slideshow of your pictures in ambient mode and they can walk you through each step of a recipe at your own pace. You can multitask and play music or watch a video while you cook and Google will save your place so you can check the recipe at any time.
Both the Lenovo Smart Display and the Google Home Hub are particularly good in the kitchen, because of that step-by-step recipe help and their stylish designs. The biggest challenge for the KitchenAid will be distinguishing itself from a crowded and competent field while using the same voice assistant and operating system.
The water resistance is a nice advantage that the others lack. The KitchenAid Smart Display also has exclusive extra cooking content courtesy of the Whirlpool-owned app Yummly. You'll be able to open Yummly with a voice command to the display, then you'll see personalized recipe recommendations based on your prior use of the app. Pick one, and Yummly can walk you through the cooking steps.
A new Yummly Pro service even offers video guides for certain recipes hosted by celebrity chefs. If you're a fan of the app, the Yummly integration might be enough reason to get the KitchenAid Smart Display over the others. Otherwise, Google Assistant's native recipes guides are great, so you won't be missing out on much by going with another option from the field.
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Price is key
KitchenAid said the price of the Smart Display will be between $200 and $300. Where it lands in that range will make a big difference. Lenovo's 10-inch display costs $250, so KitchenAid's model could look like a bargain by comparison or have that much more to prove.
Either way, I'm excited to see KitchenAid jumping into the smart home biz, and bringing its cooking prowess and customary sense of style.
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