smart display
Useful for managing your household's schedules, video calls, and productivity functions, smart displays are handy little devices that make your life a little more organised. Image Credit: Shutterstock

If you’ve ever tried to get your smart speaker to read out a recipe to you as you’re cooking, you probably realise how frustrating the experience can be. There are no images or videos for you to refer to, the voice assistant goes over the steps far too quickly, and you’re left with burning onions and a confused look on your face.

Avoid the whole debacle with a smart display, instead. Smaller and more convenient than laptops, with voice assistant capabilities that are usually missing in tablets, these devices are essentially smart speakers with touch screens.

They offer hands-free convenience, and are incredibly useful, allowing you to play music, check the weather and control all your smart home devices using only your voice. The screen is a big bonus for home cooks, and for home security, as well, since it gives you the ability to see who’s at the door (if you have a video doorbell), and grants access to your indoor and outdoor security cameras.

We spoke with Fazal Imam, founder of servicing and repair company, Dubai Repairs, whose team has extensive experience servicing smart displays. He shares his advice and tips below.

If you’re interested in picking up one of these useful devices ahead of Ramadan, shop from our curated list below, which is based on our expert’s recommendations and top-rated user reviews. Sign up for Amazon Prime to get it as early as tomorrow.

1. Best Overall: Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) 


  • Loud, clear sound
  • HD touchscreen
  • Wide range of features
  • Hi-res camera with auto-framing


  • Limited bass response

With an eight-inch HD screen, the latest Amazon Echo Show 8 is a compelling smart display that makes daily routines a lot easier to manage. Imam said: “It's got a great screen, works seamlessly with Alexa, and has tons of useful features.” The Echo Show 8 has a flat, bright HD screen that is angled slightly upward. The newest iteration now supports spatial audio, and an improved, 13MP camera sensor that includes auto-framing – a huge bonus for video calls. You can ask Alexa to play music, tell you the weather, and create timers and alarms. You can also control compatible smart home devices via the Zigbee smart home hub, and gain access to the thermostat, lights and smart plugs, among other gadgets. If you have more than one Echo Show device at home, it even acts like an intercom, which is perfect for letting members of the household know it’s time for dinner. Overall, reviewers are happy with the device’s ability to stream videos, and understand their instructions from across the room. However, while the device delivers room-filling audio, don’t count on it for authentic bass – some reviewers found their favourite tunes noticeably distorted at maximum volume.

Warranty: The manufacturer provides a limited warranty.

2. Best for Smart Home: Google Home (Nest) Hub 


  • Edgeless glass display
  • Google Photos and YouTube integration
  • Innovative Home View user interface


  • Small screen
  • No camera

While we wait for Amazon to restock the second-gen Google Nest Hub, it’s worth checking out the (older but still great) Google Home Hub, which connects to all your smart devices and keeps them organised and accessible in one place. The biggest draw for this device is its Google ecosystem – you get unfettered access to familiar favourites, like Google Calendar and Maps, and even YouTube in its full form. While the screen is small, at seven inches, it’s well-suited to both your kitchen counter, and your bedside table as a smart alarm clock, where you’ll find the size appealing rather than annoying. The Google Home Hub locks into any Made by Google devices in your home (which works with over 5,000 smart devices from 400 companies), from thermostats to light bulbs and plugs, and gives you a library of smart home products to control via Home View. Do note, however, that video calls are not possible on this device, since it doesn’t feature a camera.

3. Best Budget: Amazon Echo Show 5 


  • Compact device
  • Integrated Alexa voice assistant
  • Good volume
  • Affordable


  • Mediocre camera

There are three Amazon smart displays on our list, and for good reason – the brand leads the pack in the manufacture of versatile smart screens. The third-generation Echo Show 5 is one of the best small smart displays available, and is perfect for bedside tables. It features a 5.5-inch touchscreen, tilted slightly upwards, and also has Amazon’s updated AZ2 Neural Edge processor, which significantly improves voice recognition and machine learning performance, when you compare the Echo 5 with its predecessor. Although reviewers are disappointed with the lack of camera upgrades – it still has the same 2MP shooter as the previous model – it works well enough for video calls, but is a bit grainy compared to our top pick, the Echo Show 8. This device also doesn’t have face tracking to keep you centred in the frame. Where it shines though, is as a smart device for productivity, quickly responding to touch and voice commands and allowing you to play music and videos, control smart home devices, pull up calendars and video calls, and even act as a digital picture frame.

Warranty: The manufacturer provides a limited warranty.

4. Best Premium: Amazon Echo Show 10


  • 360-degree rotating display
  • Excellent audio
  • Built-in smart home hub


  • Bigger than most smart displays
  • Expensive

Unique because of its motorised base, the Echo Show 10’s camera can track your face as you move around the room, always keeping you in the frame. Although some reviewers wish it would automatically tilt (you have to manually twiddle with it), it’s still well-suited for video chats, especially thanks to its hi-res 13MP camera. The sound on this 10-inch device is also one of the best you’ll find in smart displays – it features dual one-inch tweeters and a three-inch subwoofer to produce music that’s crisp and clear. The display also boasts a robust smart home platform, so you can connect all your devices, and create schedules and routines easily, with a little help from Alexa. There’s no doubt it’s a larger device than most smart displays you’re used to, so you’ll have to clear some space on countertops or coffee tables. But it’s an excellent premium smart home display, with the features and price to match.

5. Best for Video Calls: Facebook Portal Plus


  • Good camera with privacy shutter
  • Improved design
  • AR Story Time and Photo Booth features
  • Compatible with Alexa


  • Expensive
  • Discontinued product

When Meta was still Facebook, it released a smart display for video calls that could contend with the best out there. The Portal Plus is sleek, with a large 14-inch display mounted on a rectangular speaker base. Its screen can be tilted up or down, and it features a 12MP camera that has a 131-degree field of view. The camera will automatically pan and zoom to keep you in frame, and it also has a physical camera shutter and mute button for when you’re done with your video chat. A four-mic array at the base listens to your Alexa voice commands, while Facebook’s Smart Sound artificial intelligence (AI) technology reduces background noise when you’re speaking to Portal Plus. All this is to say, it’s an excellent smart display for video calls. But that’s not all it can do – you get access to a number of apps, albeit limited in selection, from Calendar and browser to Spotify and Zoom. Reviewers love the device’s AR camera, where you’ll find fun filters and special effect backgrounds, and Story Time, which initiates interactive stories from popular series like Dr Seuss and Llama Llama. However, the biggest caveat to this purchase is that Meta has discontinued the Portal Plus, so some native apps may not work. However, the brand is continuing to sell these gadgets until stocks last.

6. Best Smart Display Panel: RERE Smart Home Control Panel


  • Sleek design
  • Touch screen capability
  • Built-in Alexa
  • Integrated LAN access for smart devices


  • Limited apps

Head into the future, by controlling your home’s smart devices from a panel mounted to your wall. This sleek smart display by RERE uses Tuya IoT (Internet of Things) solutions to bring together access to all your smart home gadgets in one control panel. With touch screen capabilities and built-in Alexa voice control, the panel can also use be used to set alarms, check the weather or news, and play music. The best part? An integrated multi-mode Zigbee platform and a BLE Mesh gateway guarantee local control over smart home devices and appliances – so you can access them even when your internet is disconnected. Reviewers say the panel looks great on their wall, and is used by all members of the family, even kids. However, do note it doesn’t support most apps used for entertainment, like YouTube and social media.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent installments and pay Dh61.91 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers one-year extended warranty by Salama Care for Dh46, and two-year warranty for Dh65.

Who would benefit from a smart display?

smart display
By offering services like alarms, timers, weather and news updates, among other useful things, smart displays can be used by everyone in your home. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Since they are such versatile devices, everyone in your household could make use of a smart display.

Fazal Imam, founder of Dubai Repairs, said: “Smart displays can be extremely handy for the average family. They're like helpful sidekicks at home, making life easier in many ways. They keep everyone organised, with shared calendars and to-do lists. They make video calling a breeze… and can offer cooking assistance in the kitchen, with recipes, cooking videos, and timers. They can also turn into a fun entertainment center with music, videos, and news updates.”

What features should I look out for, when buying a smart display?

Before purchasing one, it’s important to assess what you’ll primarily be using it for. Do you require a kitchen assistant, or something that replaces your alarm clock? Do you want a display to mount to the wall, so that you can manage your cameras and smart devices? Or just a centralised hub to keep your family organised?

Based on your priorities, you’ll find a range of devices. But no matter what you choose, look for some standard features that will ensure your smart device will work efficiently and smoothly, for a long time. Imam guides us on requisite features to look out for:

  • Clear display: Imam said: “Look for a display that's bright and clear, so everything looks good on screen.”
  • Voice assistant capability: Unlike smart speakers, which often work with both Alexa and Google Assistant, smart displays are able to work with only a single assistant. So, make sure your preferred voice assistant is available on the device you select.
  • Smart controls: Since these displays are centralised hubs for the rest of your gadgets, it’s worth ensuring you can seamlessly connect them to the display. Imam advised: “Check that it plays nice with your other smart gadgets at home, for easy control.”
  • Camera quality: Imam said: “Make sure it's got a good camera for video calls, and a mic that can pick up your voice accurately.” Some smart display cameras also have auto-framing abilities, which is a useful feature.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.