Amazon Echo Show Review – Office or Home? Or Both?
Reviewing the touchscreen video call experience from Amazon
There’s a new face for Amazon Alexa, and boy is it a handsome one. On the 23rd of May, Amazon revealed their newest device, the “Echo Show“, a smart-speaker solution with built-in touchscreen and tons of tech. The latest update to Amazon’s shining portfolio arrives just weeks following Amazon’s “Echo Look” presentation, the first Echo with a camera built-in.
Up until now, Echo devices have been all about voice, but Echo Show is set to take Alexa and Echo up to the next level of communication and collaboration, in areas that might have been too complex for just voice commands. The Show’s touchscreen feature (7″) can help with voice-assisted shopping, weather forecasts, viewing videos, photos, and even checking security cam or baby monitor feeds.
Amazon Echo Show Review
The Amazon Echo Show comes in either black, or white, and is priced at $230 (approx £180 at current exchange rates) each. However, if you buy two, you will get $100 off – which is a pretty great deal. Pre-orders started on the announcement date, ready for the release in the US on June 28th.
Amazon also announced their “free voice-call” feature, which will permit anyone with an Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot, or the Alexa app to message or call anyone else that owns a supported Echo device. The front-facing camera on the Show can use this feature for video chat purposes. For instance, imagine the FaceTime app for Apple, set out on your kitchen counter.
Last month, it was reported that Amazon would probably announce a new built-in screen product during May, and the Echo Show delivers just that. Right now, Amazon is betting on its suite of Echo devices to dominate the smart-home market. So far, the strategy is going well, with 71% of all smart speaker customers in the US buying Echo devices. The latest Google Home speaker only has 24% of the market.
The new device now enables video as part of the Flash briefing that is already a key part of the existing audio-only Echo range. “Show my calendar” and ‘”Alexa, show the front door camera” are additional commands available to Echo Show users with the second command of course requiring existing or additional hardware.
Perhaps the most compelling feature for all Echo users is the ability to say “Alexa, call Dad” and make free voice calls as long as Dad also has an Echo of some sort – even an Echo Dot. If dad has another Echo Show, or the Alex app, you can make free video calls!
The new messaging service also includes a “Drop in” feature which allows people to connect more efficiently with family and friends who own an Echo Show device. Users can choose to whitelist people for the Drop In and can reject calls when necessary.
What Features Does The Echo Show Have?
The Echo Show comes with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, two 2″ Dolby stereo speakers, and an Intel Atom Processor. Watch content from YouTube, see music lyrics and browse photos on the 7″ touchscreen.
With the 2″ Dolby stereo speakers, the new Echo Show is ideal for playing high-quality content from Amazon Music or from other music services such as Spotify and TuneIn.
Bluetooth-enabled, you can also connect your phone or tablet to the Echo Show and play music you already have.
- Everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, all hands-free—just ask
- Make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have an Echo Show or the Alexa App, and make voice calls to anyone who has an Echo or Echo Dot
- See lyrics on-screen with Amazon Music. Just ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi
- Stream music on Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more.
- Powerful, room-filling speakers with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and extended bass response
- Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby’s room with compatible cameras from Ring and Arlo
- Turn on lights, control thermostats and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices
- With eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo Show hears you from any direction—even while music is playing
- Thousands of skills like Uber, JustEat, BBC News, The Guardian, the Telegraph, and more
- Dimensions: 187mm x 187mm x 90mm
- Weight: 1.17kg
UC Today Opinion
With so many smart gadgets on the market today, it’s safe to say that Amazon will need to keep improving its Alexa assistant and Echo devices to stay ahead of the game. Right now, it’s hard to say whether customers will be willing to pay extra for a product that comes with many of the same features included in cheaper Amazon products, like the Fire tablet, or the Nucleus Intercom, equipped with Alexa.
Right now, Amazon’s cheapest Echo is its most successful, with 11 million Echo devices selling in the US. The Echo Dot makes up more than half of that total, and the original Echo makes up around a third. Although Amazon sells the Echo in the UK, a release date and pricing hasn’t been announced for the Echo Show yet.
The ability to make free voice and video calls between compatible devices could be a real game-changer, we’ll have to wait and see.
According to Werner Goertz, Gartner analyst, the new Echo Show opens up new interactive dimensions for the consumer shopping experience, delivering something that competing companies don’t yet have. He believes that the Show will also boost its abilities for the office environment sometime this year, so it can compete against things like Cisco’s WebEx, and Microsoft’s Skype for Business. We have to agree, exciting times are ahead in the world of personal digital assistants…
Do you plan to get an Amazon Echo Show when it’s released? Why? Do you currently have any of the existing Echo range and will you make use of the new calling features? Let us know in the comments below.