For the smart home enthusiasts, the Amazon Echo brand shouldn’t be a stranger. Echo, along with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant has been really popular in the past half decade or so. We can even argue that Alexa is one of the biggest driving forces of the smart home industry, so the arrival of the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Look, two new members of the Echo family, is much welcomed.
In this article, we will first review the Amazon Echo Show, which was just announced in early May 2017. So, first things first, what actually is the Echo Show? As with the original Echo, it is a smart speaker equipped with Amazon Alexa and the Skills. So, what’s the ‘Show’ part is all about? As the name might suggest, the Echo Show now features a touchscreen both for monitoring and control capabilities. On the other hand, the Echo Look features a built-in camera, and as promised, we will review the Echo Look later.
So, to begin this Amazon Echo Show review, let us first discuss the differences over the original Amazon Echo.
Upgrades Over The Original Amazon Echo
Of course, the most noticeable upgrade is the HD touchscreen, which is actually very nice. Considering the wide range of third-party integrations of the Alexa platform, the touchscreen can actually do many things. It can, for example, display video feed from supported smart camera devices. It can, of course, play YouTube videos and picture slideshows, and it can technically be a smart home hub controller for all the supported devices.
While the touchscreen monitor is definitely the core feature of the Amazon Echo Show, there are several other features introduced to the Echo Show. There is a new messaging service called ‘Drop In’, which used the infrastructure of Amazon’s Chime, a webinar and video conference call service for businesses. Drop In allows you to communicate with others who also have an Echo Show in their home, allowing video and audio call.
To allow video call, there is a 5-megapixel front camera and a pair of Dolby stereo speakers. So, the video and audio quality is pretty nice. While being significantly bigger than the original Amazon Echo and even more compared to the Amazon Echo Dot, the Echo Show is still relatively compact and only weighs 2.5 lbs. The Amazon Echo Show measured at 187x187x90mm, can easily stand on any shelves.
Let us continue this Echo Show review by discussing the technical specs.
Amazon Echo Show Specs
The new Amazon Echo Show has several interesting technical specs compared to the predecessors. They are:
The 7″ touchscreen display is the core feature of the Amazon Echo Show. While Amazon hasn’t specified the resolution, during our Echo Show hands on, the resolution is very decent. Our guess is that it is at least equals to 720p HD resolution. As mentioned, the touch screen can function as a screen to watch a video feed, YouTube, weather forecasts, and much more. With the wide range of integration offered by the Alexa platform, the touchscreen can function in a lot of ways. For example. if you also own Ring or Arlo smart cameras, Echo Show (and Alexa) can show you the video feed even from several cameras with a voice command.
5 Megapixel Front Camera
To assist the Drop In a feature, which we have mentioned is a new smart messaging service from Amazon, there is a very nice front camera to allow video calls. As you can imagine, if you have other intercom devices that are Alexa-enabled, you can also use this front camera to communicate with those in other rooms.
Dolby Stereo Speakers and 8 Microphones
The original Amazon Echo is known for excellent audio performance, featuring a seven-microphone array, 2,5-inch woofer, and 2-inch tweeter. The Echo Show features 8 noise-cancelling microphones and two Dolby stereo speakers. Although the official spec of the speakers hasn’t been released, it performs better compared to that of the Amazon Echo.
Our Review: All The Best From Amazon Echo and More
Here is the drill: we all know how powerful Alexa is a voice assistant platform, and how Amazon Echo has been really successful, due to that fact. Before the introduction of the Echo Show and Echo Look, Amazon has sold roughly 11 million Echo devices in the US alone.
The Alexa platform is continuously evolving through the ‘Skills’ feature. Think of it like an app on your App Store or Google Play, used to control other devices supported by Alexa. We can get all that from the original Amazon Echo, or even from the Echo Dot, a very affordable option. So, the big question about the Amazon Echo Show is, how useful would the touchscreen be to enhance the already powerful Alexa platform, especially considering that it is significantly more expensive.
In our opinion, the answer is yes. The touchscreen feature adds a whole new dimension to the Amazon Echo Show. As mentioned, you can use the touchscreen to integrate with your smart security cameras, acting as a monitor. The Drop In messaging feature will be useful if you have more than one Echo Show or have neighbors or friends using one. Although it is not a big deal, it is still a nice bonus.
With the commitment, Amazon has shown with Alexa and the Skills over the past recent years, we can expect a lot of new features and third-party integrations to the Echo Show touchscreen functionality.
Pros & Cons
Here are what we liked and disliked from the new Amazon Echo Show:
- Touchscreen paired with 5MP front camera
- Better audio quality compared to its predecessors
- Some exclusive Alexa Skills due to the touchscreen functionality
- Amazon Drop In for video calls
- Amazing integration of smart security cameras
- Still relatively expensive
- Significantly bigger than the Amazon Echo
In our opinion, the Amason Echo Show is a worthy long term investment. While the touchscreen and video functionality are still pretty basic at the moment, we can expect more Alexa Skills in the future, along with more third-party integration.
The Amazon Echo Show is, indeed, the most expensive option in the Echo Family. However, in our opinion, it is worth every penny.