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Tidbyt Review: A Smart Display That’s More Decoration and Novelty

Rating: 7/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 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
Tidbyt sign showing the weather and time
Justin Duino / Review Geek

In a world full of Google Nest Hubs and Amazon Echo smart displays that are built for utility over aesthetics, the Tidbyt stands out with its wood frame and retro-looking LED display. Although it’s more of a conversation piece, there are countless apps to customize what the device shows.

Here's What We Like

  • Premium wood build
  • Highly customizable
  • Modern-looking retro decoration

And What We Don't

  • Can't be hung on a wall
  • LEDs are hard to read up close
  • Pricey

Before jumping into the review, I want to note that the Tidbyt has been on sale for $20 off ($179) the entire time I tested the smart display. I don’t know if this is a new permanent price or a long-time discount, but I reviewed the accessory as a $199 device.

Wood Design & Endless Customization

Tidbyt sign showing a baseball game score
Justin Duino / Review Geek

  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 4.4 x 1.9in (208 x 112 x 50mm)
  • Weight: 531g (1.17lbs)
  • Resolution: 64 x 32p

Taking the Tidbyt out of its box, you’re greeted with an electronic device that’s unlike anything you’ve purchased in the last decade. Instead of a high-resolution display, sleek lines, and a modern design, you’re met with a wood-encased LED screen that’s more art than tech.

Speaking of its design, you’re out of luck if you don’t like the dark walnut wood look. The company isn’t selling the Tidbyt in any other finishes and doesn’t plan to in the foreseeable future, according to a forum post.

Once powered on, the low-resolution display offers a unique and retro look, but it definitely looks better from afar. I initially 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 legible.

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 up to the “Activate apps” home screen. Tapping on any of these apps will let you customize its settings or remove it from your Tidbyt.

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

The real magic starts when you click on the “+” icon on the home screen. Doing so opens Tidbyt’s app catalog. Here, you’ll find every app available for your display, broken up into categories. You’ll see apps that display the weather, what’s playing on your Spotify account, news from the New York Times, sports scores, cryptocurrency prices, and so much more.

Tapping on any of the apps will open up a configuration window. Depending on the app, you’ll have to verify your location, sign in to your streaming service, and toggle various viewing options.

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

The cherry on top is that if you know a bit of Python, you can code your own apps for the Tidbyt using the company’s API and SDK. Although I didn’t build anything custom for my display, the process looks simple enough that you could probably create a small app over a weekend with no coding experience.

You Can’t Hang Up the Tidbyt

Tidbyt sign's USB-C port and reset button on the back of the device
Justin Duino / Review Geek

My only true frustration with the Tidbyt’s design is the fact that it can’t be hung up on a wall. As seen in the above photo, the sign is powered by an included 6-ft (1.83m) Amazon Basics USB-C to C cable that pokes directly out of the back of the device.

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

If the company creates a Tidbyt 2.0, I’d love to see a second USB-C port on the bottom of the device. Having both ports would allow you to choose to either sit the LED sign on a bookshelf or mount it flat against a wall.

Should You Buy the Tidbyt?

Tidbyt sign with all of its lights turned on showing a neon cat graphic
Justin Duino / Review Geek

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

With the dozens of pre-built apps available, you can make the smart display fit your space and show just about any photo, game score, or stock price that you’d like. You are limited by where you can place the Tidbyt, but it’s easy enough to slot it into an empty section of a bookcase or shelf.

You can purchase the Tidbyt for $199 directly from the company. And if you want to save a couple of bucks, the company also sells Tidbyts with cosmetic damage and scuffs for $129.

Rating: 7/10
Price: $199

Here’s What We Like

  • Premium wood build
  • Highly customizable
  • Modern-looking retro decoration

And What We Don't

  • Can't be hung on a wall
  • LEDs are hard to read up close
  • Pricey

Justin Duino Justin Duino
Justin Duino is the Reviews Director at Review Geek (and LifeSavvy Media as a whole). He has spent the last decade writing about Android, smartphones, and other mobile technology. In addition to his written work, he has also been a regular guest commentator on CBS News and BBC World News and Radio to discuss current events in the technology industry. Read Full Bio »