A handful of PC makers have been shipping computers with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant software pre-installed for a few years. Now Lenovo is going a step further and adding support for Amazon’s Show Mode software, effectively letting you use some recent Lenovo Yoga, IdeaPad, and ThinkPad laptops as smart displays.
The upshot is that if you’re looking for an always-listening, voice-activated smart display, you may already have one built into your next computer.
The downside is if you don’t want an always-listening, voice-activated smart display, you may have some extra bloatware on your next computer. But since Show Mode is basically just part of an Alexa app for Windows 10, you should be able to uninstall it if you don’t plan to use it.
Amazon notes that users will be able to activated Show Mode in two ways:
- Click the Show Mode button in the Alexa app.
- Say “Alexa, open Show Mode” while Alexa is running.
Among other things, this will let you set reminders, view your to-do lists, read eBooks from Audible, view recipes on the screen, or make voice or video calls to contacts using Amazon’s Drop In platform, whether they’re using an Amazon Echo Show, Fire HD tablet, or supported Windows PC.
Basically, it seems like supported Lenovo laptops running the Alexa app will be able to do most of the things an Amazon Echo Show smart display can… assuming you want to leave your laptop running 24/7.
If you’d prefer to close your laptop lid and put your notebook to sleep when you’re not using it, then you’ll lose the key thing that makes smart displays special – the sense of ambient computing which allows you to interact with your smart devices at a moment’s notice without touching them or waiting for them to start up.