A smart display that does more decoration and novelty – Review Geek

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Evaluation:
7/10
?
  • 1 – Absolute hot waste
  • 2 – A kind of lukewarm waste
  • 3 – Severely flawed design
  • 4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptably imperfect
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great, but not best in class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $199

Justin Duino

In a world full of Google Nest Hubs and Amazon Echo smart displays designed for utility rather than aesthetics, the Tidbyt stands out with its wooden frame and retro LED display. Although more of a conversation starter, there are countless apps to customize what the device displays.

Here’s what we like

  • Premium wood construction
  • Highly customizable
  • Retro decoration with a modern look

And what we don’t do

  • Can’t be hung on the wall
  • LEDs are hard to read up close
  • Expensive

Before I jump into the review, I want to note that the Tidbyt was on sale for $20 off ($179) the entire time I tested the smart display. I’m not sure if this is a permanent new price or a long-standing discount, but I’ve reviewed the accessory as a $199 device.

Wooden design and endless customization

Tidbyt sign showing a baseball game score
Justin Duino
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 4.4 x 1.9 inches (208 x 112 x 50mm)
  • Lester: 531g (1.17lbs)
  • Resolution: 64x32p

Pulling the Tidbyt out of its box, you’re greeted with an electronic device unlike anything you’ve bought in the last decade. Instead of a high resolution screen, clean lines and a modern design, you are faced with a wooden LED screen that is more art than technology.

Speaking of its design, you’re out of luck if you don’t like the look of dark walnut wood. The company does not sell the Tidbyt in other finishes and does not plan to do so for the foreseeable future, according to a forum post.

When turned on, the low-res screen offers a unique, retro look, but it definitely looks better by far. I originally had the Tidbyt on my desk, but it was so close that some text was hard to read. I then moved it to a bookcase across the room, which made everything perfectly readable.

You control the Tidbyt using the company’s mobile app (available for iPhone and Android). Once the smart display is connected to Wi-Fi, the app will open to the “Enable Apps” home screen. Tapping on one of these apps will allow you to customize its settings or remove it from your Tidbyt.

Jumping into Tidbyt’s settings menu, you have options to change screen brightness, physical location (useful for clock and weather apps), and how often apps are browsed.

The real magic begins when you click the “+” icon on the home screen. This opens Tidbyt’s app catalog. Here you will find all the applications available for your screen, divided into categories. You’ll see apps that show the weather, what’s happening on your Spotify account, New York Times news, sports scores, cryptocurrency prices, and more.

Tap one of the apps to open a settings window. Depending on the app, you’ll need to check your location, connect to your streaming service, and switch between different display options.

Once you are done setting up the app, tap “Add to [Tidbyt name]and it will be added to your display. All of your installed apps will then cycle through at the interval you configured in the settings menu.

The icing on the cake is that if you know a little Python, you can code your own apps for Tidbyt using the company’s API and SDK. Although I didn’t create anything custom for my screen, the process seems simple enough that you could probably build a small app in a weekend with no coding experience.

You can’t hang up the Tidbyt

USB-C port and Tidbyt sign reset button on the back of the device
Justin Duino

My only real frustration with the Tidbyt’s design is the fact that it can’t be hung on the wall. As seen in the photo above, the panel is powered by an included 6-foot (1.83m) Amazon Basics USB-C to C cable that exits directly from the back of the device.

It’s possible to buy a 90-degree USB-C adapter and route the cable down, but it would still stick out too far. Plus, there’s no easy way to mount the block on your wall without DIYing a solution.

If the company makes a Tidbyt 2.0, I’d like to see a second USB-C port on the bottom of the device. Having both ports would allow you to choose to place the LED panel on a shelf or mount it flat against a wall.

Should you buy the Tidbyt?

Tidbyt sign with all its lights on showing a neon cat graphic
Justin Duino

The Tidbyt is a stylish accent piece with a nerdy, retro flair. Everyone who saw it in my house, whether it was the weather, a personalized message, or an animated Nyan Cat graphic, all commented on how cool the digital sign looked.

With dozens of pre-made apps available, you can fit the smart display to your space and display just about any photo, game score, or course of action you want. You’re limited by where you can place the Tidbyt, but it’s easy enough to fit it into an empty section of a bookcase or shelf.

You can buy the Tidbyt for $199 directly from the company. And if you want to save a few bucks, the company also sells Tidbys with cosmetic damage and scuff marks for $129.

Here’s what we like

  • Premium wood construction
  • Highly customizable
  • Retro decoration with a modern look

And what we don’t do

  • Can’t be hung on the wall
  • LEDs are hard to read up close
  • Expensive
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