Just launched in the UK is Amazon’s latest Echo device the Amazon Echo Show. Amazon’s assistant has evolved and now has a 7-inch touch screen, Amazon Alexa is an essential part of my smart home and I was very interested to see how the Echo Show would fit in with my setup.
Design and setup
The Echo Show is feels heavy due to its substantial dual 2″ speakers and the 7″ screen which is clear and bright. It has a wedge design that is simple without looking cheap. Unlike the other Echo devices there is no 3.5mm audio output, only Bluetooth is supported.
Setting up the Show is slightly different to the other Echo devices. It walks you through the setup and entering your account details via the touch screen. You enter your wifi details, Amazon account and then apply an update (just as every device you get these days does). The setup is nice and simple.
Before we look at the screen let talk about the sound. Music sounds good through the Show and there is plenty of volume and bass. Its not up to the quality of a dedicated music device like a Sonos One but it can fill a room and music sounded great in my kitchen. Music is provided by Amazon Music.
As with the other Echo devices the Echo Show uses voice control via far field array microphones, it picks up your voice just as well from the other side of the room or close up. I didn’t get any accidental triggers from watching TV in the next room.
The obvious addition to the Show is the 7-inch touch screen. While idle the screen displays news headlines and tips on how to use the device. Some things work the same as they do on the other Echo devices and Alexa just reads out the information, other make use of the screen. For example, playing music brings up the album art and you can ask Alexa to turn on lyrics so it displays the song lyrics in time with the music. Very handy in case you forget the words. Another example is a skill like Recipedia which you can ask for cooking recipes and it displays them on the screen. So you can could ask for the recipe for Chicken Curry and it walks you through the steps, reading it out and display in on the screen. You can page through the steps with your voice so no need to touch any devices.
You can use the touch screen to interact with apps and do thing like select options and control music playback. I found it handy for quickly pausing music playback.
There are other things you can do having the screen. If you have any network cameras like Netgear Arlo you can display them on the screen, “Alexa show kitchen camera” will show you camera on the screen, it works with a range of camera systems, it could be security camera or even a baby monitors.
You can also watch videos on the Echo Show. You can watch videos from Amazon Video, so you can say “Alexa play It’s a wonderful life” and it will stream it from Amazon video. If you have started watching the movie on another device it carries on from where you left off. If Alexa find multiple results i.e. “Alexa show the Grand Tour” it displays the results on screen with a number and then you can say “play number one” and it plays the first selection. What would be good if there were other services available like BBC iPlayer or Netflix but that currently isn’t possible, neither is YouTube due to a fall out between Google and Amazon.
Another great use of the screen is video calling. You can call your contacts via Alexa and then use the screen and built in camera to chat over video. I tested it with a call between my phone and the Show and it worked very well. You have to use the Alexa calling system as there is support for 3rd party systems like Skype.
The Echo Show is an interesting evolution of the Alexa range and the addition of the screen adds some interesting new uses. It still does everything the other Echo devices does like controlling your smart home, reading the news and retrieving information but you get the addition of on screen information and video playback. My Amazon devices are an essential part of my smart home and I wouldn’t say the Echo Show is a necessity but it a great addition to my smart home. It is going to live in my kitchen for now ready to assist with the cooking and providing a bit entertainment in the kitchen.
The Amazon Echo Show costs £129 from Currys PC World, here is my video review: