Innovation

A smart clock saved my mental health at night. Can its successor?

"Doomscrolling" is killing us! This clock can help.

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Bedroom alarm clocks are so everyday, so mundane, they don't often get reviewed by Big Deal Tech Bros, who are more concerned about a new band for the Apple Watch Series 6 than a humble device that can actually improve your mental health.

Smart alarm clocks are not cool and you should not mention yours in public. But I have to make this one exception. I have no choice but to stan for the smart clock.

It made me feel better.

First things first:

This is the original Lenovo Smart Clock, manufactured in April 2019. It has a touch screen. It debuted at $80.

And this is...

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential, manufactured in August, 2020. It doesn't have a touch screen. It will go on sale on October 15, 2020, at $50. Sorry, it's dark. More photos ahead!

Does a touch screen matter on a smart clock though?

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(For most people, the answer is no.)

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You don't need a touch screen on a smart clock in your bedroom, I found. That sort of goes against why you have a smart clock: To remove screens from your bedroom.

The "smart" in "smart" tech means it's connected to the internet, and the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential uses the voice-powered Google Assistant.

Use your voice, not a screen.

"Hey Google, goodnight."

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For the past year, I've said this command to my Lenovo Smart Clock, and it kick-started a routine that turned off all the lights in my apartment, told me the weather for the next day, asked what time I should set my alarm for, and then played "relaxing rain sounds."

It has been glorious.

Doomscrolling

Do you do this? It is "the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing," according to Merriam-Webster. It has become a prime bedtime activity in this most fucked-up year, 2020.

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One-third of young people in a 2016 survey reported elevated levels of psychological stress, according to research by the Toronto-based Center for Addiction and Mental Health. Researchers also found "screen time" usage had increased to three hours per day, on average, among them, citing it as a contributing factor.

"Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock, suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep."

-- The Sleep Foundation

All of which is to say ... adding another touchscreen in your bedroom is bad.

What's more, I never used the touch screen on the first generation of the Lenovo Smart Clock.

I never had a reason as I did everything with my voice and Google Assistant.

A touch screen on a bedroom clock isn't only unnecessary, it adds another distraction in a room that doesn't need them.

Thankfully, the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is just that -- it only offers the essentials.

Also new

The Lenovo Smart Clock Essential has two upgrades on its predecessor that may also help your mental health.

It's can be louder:

At 4 watts, the speaker on the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential is one watt louder than the earlier version.

It's not, as the GZA famously said, "weak, like clock radio speakers."

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(Sound on!)

The second noticeable new feature is an elegant night light.

I have a newborn. The night light is perfect for checking on her...

(All good.)

Here's what the new Lenovo Smart Clock Essential keeps:

It has kept a USB port. It has kept a few practical buttons, it has kept the gray fabric cover.

So, what's not-so-great about the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential?

Honestly: Not much. It's $50. It is an upgrade on setting alarms on your phone.

With that said: The fabric cover adds domesticity that is appreciated, but what if it came in black?

The old-school LED font for the face is a retro look, but it may not suit everyone.

If you are fearful of Google listening to you, that may be a hurdle you have to get over.

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The last word: My sleep quality went up as my in-bed screentime went down. My mental health — mood, anxiety, stress — generally got better. I credit a lot of it to less screentime and a relaxing bedtime routine, thanks to Lenovo Smart Clock.

If you're a person who is compelled to swipe, you'll be happier with this new, cheaper Lenovo Smart Clock Essential (full specs).

And one more thing — try leaving your phone in the living room, if you can.

'night!

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