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CES: Lenovo Smart Assistant

Lenovo launches colourful alternative to Amazon Echo smart speaker

Chinese technology firm Lenovo has unveiled its own version of Amazon's smart assistant, which acts as a central command centre for connected-home gadgets and systems.

Lenovo announced the launch of its new Smart Assistant, which was built in collaboration with Amazon, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) technology conference in Las Vegas today.

It makes use of Amazon's Alexa Voice Services technology, which adds intelligent voice control to any internet-connected product that has a microphone and speaker.

Similar to the Echo, which first launched in the US in 2014, the Smart Assistant responds to voice commands. Its various functions range from music streaming and reading news reports to giving calendar reminders.

It also allows users to link up and command all of their other products that have the ability to automatically or remotely control elements of the home, like lighting, heating, security and other electronics.

CES: Lenovo Smart Assistant

"Bringing great smart home experience to more households and making the technologies more accessible is one of our big goals in the connected world," said the company.

"After conducting a series of studies on consumers' pain points and needs, Lenovo designed the Lenovo Smart Assistant, a new mainstream digital personal assistant, with Amazon Alexa cloud-based voice services."

According to Lenovo, the key difference between its new product and the Amazon predecessor is the sound quality of its speakers. It will also be available in more colours.

The Lenovo Smart Assistant starts at $129 (approximately £105) for the standard edition, and a premium edition with Harmon Kardon speakers will be priced $179 (£145).

Both will be available to purchase in May 2017 – however, the company is currently only planning to sell the Smart Assistant in China and North America.

CES: Lenovo Smart Assistant

Designers and technology companies have been competing over recent months to provide the first and best smart home products.

Examples include Philippe Starck's smart radiator valves, which allow homeowners to remotely control the temperature of each room using their voice, and Yves Behar's home security system that allows users to let visitors into their home when they are not there.

Last year, Google launched its own omniscient voice-controlled Home device, which – similar to the Echo and Smart Assistant – acts as a central command centre for homes connected to many digital gadgets and systems.

CES takes place from 5 to 8 January 2017, although many companies have released previews of the products they are set to debut ahead of the event.