Amazon Echo Show Review: Now You See It

Amazon Echo Show

Our Impression
4.1

Summary

Amazon Echo show is more advanced than its previous version Amazon Echo. Amazon Echo Show will not only answer to your questions but also provides you the information you need.

Great for:
• User experience with 7-inches touchscreen display
• Listening To & Streaming Music
• Stream Amazon Prime movies, YouTube videos
• Video chat via Drop In
• Alerts for Weather, Sports & News
• Controlling smart home devices

Avoid if:
You’re looking for something mind-blowing and life changing.

Price:

Amazon Echo

Do you have an Amazon Echo at home?

Well, Amazon has something even better for you: the Amazon Echo Show.

The Echo Show is basically an Amazon Echo smart speaker with a 7-inch touchscreen attached to it.

There are two basic uses for the new touch screen:

  1. Alexa can now show you the information you requested. You can watch news briefings, stream Amazon Prime movies, watch YouTube videos and listen to music.
  2. You can use the Echo Show as a video conferencing hub. It has a new feature called Drop In where two people with Echo Show can connect with each other and converse, via video.

These are just the basics of what Echo Show can do.

Echo Show is compatible with other Echo devices. And, with the new multi-room audio feature, you can stream music simultaneously on your Echo Show as well as Echo speakers in other rooms.

So, in case you are wondering: don’t throw out your old Echo! You can now use it as a standalone music speaker or as a morning alarm for your kids.

Learn more about these new features in our in-depth review, below.


The Battle for Your Ears and Eyes

The battle for your attention from home speakers and digital assistants is heating up.

Amazon currently has the lion’s share of kitchen countertops and bedside tables held, with their Echo devices.

But Google and Apple are hot on Amazon’s heels.

Amazon’s release of Echo Show is partly an effort by the company to integrate Amazon even deeper into people’s lives… and partly an effort to stay ahead of other smart speakers.

To be honest, some of this new tech can get a little bit creepy. One of the concerns with intelligent home speakers is their always-listening mode.

With the Echo Show, now we are talking about always-seeing, too. Though there is a mic/camera off button.

Amazon Echo Show

While privacy concerns are understandable, the benefits of these new devices are too big to ignore.

And the Echo Show makes this point perfectly clear.

When combing through customer reviews for the Echo Show, I realized that people were using it for far more than Amazon suggested in its marketing releases.  For example:

  • One customer uses her Echo Show to catch up with friends while she cooks, for example.
  • Another uses it to check in on her elderly grandparents, to make sure they are okay.
  • Yet another owner connected her Echo Show to her doorbell, so her parents could check who was at the door before they opened it.

Before you think I am being overly-dramatic about what the Echo Show can do, let me be clear:

I don’t view this as a revolutionary new product.

As many other customers have noted, it has its share of flaws – and it’s very much a work in progress.

One user put it best:

… If you’re looking for something mind-blowing and life changing, this is not for you.

That said, it sure does a lot that I like…


Design

Amazon Echo Show

Honestly, the Echo Show is not sleek – at least, not as sleek as you might expect for such a modern device.

It looks kinda clunky and beefy, like a gadget from the 80s.

But then again, Amazon is not Apple, and their priority is always function over form.

Two Dolby-based speakers are located behind the bottom panel that take up around a third of the front side.

The 7-inch screen fills the rest of the space.

Despite its blocky shape, the Echo Show is light, weighing only 2.5 pounds.

It sits at a slight angle with the screen facing upwards to make it easy to glance at the screen as you move about.

You can use it in your kitchen, living room, bedroom and just about anywhere you need it (indoors, that is).

But don’t expect it to blend-in with your French Provincial living room.

You at least have two colors to choose from – black or white – so you might be able to make it work.


Ways To Use Echo Show


The Basics

Echo Show has access to all of the Skills ad tools that the original Echo smart speaker has.

After all, they are powered by the same AI, Alexa.  So regarding the basics, not much has changed.

Only that now, Alexa can show – and tell.

The addition of a screen certainly makes the Echo Show easier to use, more interactive and more useful.

Amazon Echo Show

For example, it only takes a few seconds glancing at the screen to catch important information about the weather, your calendar, what time it is and so on.

You can read quick news updates or watch news briefings from CNN, Bloomberg, Techcrunch, and others news platforms.

You can also set a timer and watch it count down the seconds – an important feature for the kitchen.

As with its predecessors, this is a hands-free device.

Wake up Echo Show using the trigger word, ‘Alexa’ and then speak your command.

You can say, for example,

“Alexa, show me the weather”

“Alexa, what’s the news?”

“Alexa and a 10 am meeting to my calendar.”

While there are a few kinks that Amazon needs to iron out, the Echo Show is really easy to use.

It uses an array of 8 microphones designed to hear your unique voice from across the room, even if there music playing.

 Thousands of Alexa Skills

What has always made Amazon’s Echo devices popular are the thousands of Amazon Skills available – the smart speaker equivalent of third party apps on smartphones.

Developers have created all sorts of skills to extend the functionality of Echo devices. There are skills for tracking your phone, controlling your robot vacuum and connecting to smart home devices.

You can access the same skills using Echo Show.

There have been some complaints that not all skills have been optimized for use on the screen, yet.

But with thousands of them available, there is no shortage of those that work perfectly well.

Amazon Echo Show

As developers rush to develop Alexa skills that utilize the touchscreen, users will soon have even more compatible options to choose from.

Currently, some of the best skills available include:

  • CNN (news briefings)
  • Capital One (managing your accounts)
  • Bloomberg (Live TV and market updates)
  • Fandango (movie trailers), Uber (book an Uber)
  • OpenTable (book a restraint reservation)
  • Food Network (cooking videos)
  • Jeopardy (play the game)

Having a display has changed everything. The potential is huge.

I can’t wait to see how companies and developers take advantage of the screen to create even more helpful skills.

If you were never a fan of Echo devices, perhaps it’s time you reconsidered.

Connect With Other Smart Home Devices

Echo Show will also work with a ton of smart home devices filling up homes… from climate control systems to smart kitchen appliances.

The Echo Show connects with some of these smart home appliances today, making it easier to control your smart home from one point.

Not all smart devices are compatible at this point, but the list will keep on growing.

Amazon Echo Show

But there’s still a lot you can do, right now.

One of the best smart home uses of the Echo Show is monitoring your home. The Show can connect to a live feed from your baby monitor or front door camera.

You can even connect your Echo Show to your smart doorbell system, to view a live video feed whenever someone rings the bell.

You can also control your lights just by telling Alexa to dim or switch them off/on. If you have a smart thermostat then you may be able to connect it to your Echo Show, so you don’t have to move to another room, to change the settings.

Some of the smart home appliance brands compatible with Show right now include Wemo, Ecobee, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink.

Turn your Echo Show into a Home Music System

The Show’s speakers are not Sonos-quality, but they are still surprisingly good.

They are equipped with Dolby processing to ensure you get crisp audio that easily fills a room.

If you have another Echo speaker, you can create your own home music system. Amazon recently introduced a multi-room audio feature to its Echo devices. This means you can sync music across different Echo speakers even when they are located in different rooms.

You can now use your Echo Show as the main entertainment center and place Echo speakers in different locations around the room or different rooms. All devices can stream the same song simultaneously.

It’s still not as elegant or as good as buying a higher-quality Sonos setup – but it’s a LOT cheaper.

Or, if you want to stream music to your existing Bluetooth speakers or from your mobile phone, Echo Show now includes Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) support for audio streaming from your mobile device to Echo Show or from Echo Show to your Bluetooth speaker.

Make Voice and Audio Calls

With audio-only Echo speakers, you can make voice calls to anyone.

With Show, you can now make hands free video calls to anyone with an Echo show – as well as audio calls to friends and family with an Echo speaker.

Both audio and video calls are free.

Amazon Echo Show

For video calls, the Echo Show uses the 5MP front facing the camera. The video and audio quality is quite good.

Connect Instantly With Drop-In

Drop-In is a bit like video calls, but with instant connections.

Once you tell Alexa to ‘Drop In’ on someone, it instantly connects to their Echo Show. The person on the other end can select an audio-only feature if they don’t want to talk face to face.

Drop-In offers more control than video calling. For example, you can whitelist the people who can Drop In on you such as family members only. There is also a Do Not Disturb mode that prevents Drop Ins.

Problems and Concerns

The biggest challenge customers have right now with the Echo Show is integrating it with other devices such as garage openers, lights, and thermostats. It takes some time to get the Show working well with other smart devices.

Hopefully, Amazon will make it easier with future software updates.

There have also been complaints about the Echo Show microphones not interpreting voice commands properly, requiring the repeating of a question or request before Alexa responded.

While this could certainly be an issue with the hardware, also make sure that you have placed it at an optimal location where your voice can reach clearly.

Amazon Echo Show

Another common complaint from customers who previously used an Echo was the noticeable response lag. Echo Show doesn’t respond as quickly and can sometimes freeze.

I would also add that the Echo Show has a bigger learning curve compared to the Echo smart speakers.

It can be quite frustrating at first, as you try to connect devices and learn the best ways to ask Alexa questions.


Buy Now? or Wait?

With most first-iteration tech products, the common advice is to wait. The second or third version won’t have the shortcomings of the original product.

But this doesn’t really apply to Echo Show, despite its various limitations and flaws.

Because this IS the second generation of the Echo.

If you look at customer complaints online, most have something to do with the software and not the hardware. The speakers, screen, and other hardware components are quite good and have no issues.

So, Amazon doesn’t need to create a whole new Echo Show to make much-needed improvements. A quick over-the-air update is all that’s required.

So I’d say: buy now, especially if you want face-to-face video calling (which is really good).


Summary

Amazon Echo Show

Even though it has some growing up to do, the Echo Show is an amazing product. The slick video conferencing alone more than justifies the price.

As Amazon updates its Echo and Alexa software, you’ll be in place to take advantage of new and improved features.

The Echo Show currently costs about $230.

But you can get a $100 discount if you buy two, now.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.