Amazon recently announced a whole suite of new generation Amazon smart devices including a new Echo Plus, Echo Dot and Echo Show. The highlight for us was the Echo Show, a powerful smart speaker with a crisp, beautiful, interactive 10-inch display. What’s really exciting is that Alexa has always been a favourite assistant of ours due to its ability to do Routines much better than its competitors, and this device adds another dimension to its usefulness.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Echo Show is how heavy it is, this is a good indicator of how the audio might sound and it didn’t disappoint. Having said that, it seemed unconventional to have the speakers pointing away from the user, but on the other hand, it does keep the front of the device super minimal. The back of the Echo Show is covered in a mesh fabric that looks and feels nice as long as you keep the dust off.
There are three buttons above the speaker that control the volume and muting of the microphone. A camera on the front of the Echo Show allows you to do face to face calls, which may appeal to some people more than others. What’s not obvious is that it has a very narrow field of view and points slightly upwards, which means you’d almost have to intentionally position yourself in front of the camera to be seen. This is actually a good thing when, for example, you have it set up on the bedside, the camera is more likely to be pointing at a blank wall than your bed. The other good thing about the camera is that Alexa will be able to make Skype calls in the near future, which opens up a whole new level of use since more people would have Skype accounts than Alexa installed for video calls.
Adding the Echo Show to an existing set up was a seamless process and we were able to control the connected smart home devices immediately. Upon issuing a command to turn some lights on, instead of just getting an audio queue, the Echo Show also displayed the status of the device that was being changed. Asking Alexa for the weather forecast or your calendar schedule also yields an enhanced experience with the display showing the results in addition to the audio feedback. If you’re in need of a helping hand in the kitchen, asking Alexa how to do something on the Echo Show can give you video instructions which would undoubtedly be better for comprehension.
The Echo Show comes with built-in Zigbee smart home hub, the controller for things like the Phillips Hue lights – which is great if you’re new to that eco-system, reducing the number of hubs you need in the home. Overall, if you are looking to extend your Alexa devices, the Echo Show is a good one to consider. Priced at $349 AUD, it’s about $120 more expensive than the new Echo Plus but having the screen is well worth it.