Have you heard an echo lately?
Amazon continues to expand its line of Echo products. The company that introduced us to Alexa now has more devices to listen to music, get news and information, and control your smart home, all simply by using your voice.
First came the cylinder like Echo. It was followed by the hockey puck-shaped Echo Dot. Then Amazon added video to the mix with the Echo Show. Now comes the smaller Echo Spot and the Echo Plus.
For many looking for a virtual home assistant, the question is: should you buy an Echo, and if so, which one?
Those who like to watch as well as listen should get a front row look at the Echo Show.
The Show lets you view video highlights, Amazon Video, and YouTube content, and make video calls to family and friends. All on a 7-inch touch screen.
You can view music lyrics, weather forecasts, and your security cameras. Even create your own shopping and to-do lists.
Navigation is easy by swiping left or right. The screen also recommends some commands for Alexa if you don’t know what to ask.
The 1024 x 600 screen is nearly identical to the Amazon Fire 7 tablet. Text is legible but not as sharp as your smartphone or TV.
The touch screen allows you to adjust settings and brightness levels. You can change a lot of things without using the Alexa app or mobile device.
In addition to the 7-inch screen, the Show includes a 5-megapixel camera.
The device has an angular design. Some find it a bit clunky and compare it to a triangle with two shaved ends when you look at it from the side. Overall, it measures 7 x 7.4 x 4 inches and has a square foot panel oriented at a slight upward angle.
Eight noise-canceling microphones are included. Amazon says you can issue commands from any direction, even while music is playing.
Like everything in the Echo line, it can stream music, turn on lights, set thermostats, and control other compatible smart home devices.
It’s easy to use. Once you connect it, it will show you the available Wi-Fi networks. Choose a network and sign in to your Amazon account and you’re ready to go.
The speakers include two 2-inch speaker drivers for Dolby-powered stereo audio.
The Bluetooth capabilities are what many find to be the real selling point of this device. Working as a Bluetooth speaker as well as a sound source, you can pair the Show with your smartphone or tablet and play music through your speaker. You can use it with a separate Bluetooth speaker or headphones and stream audio directly from the device.
Shopping is easier with the Show than with voice-only devices. Alexa adds items directly to your Amazon shopping cart and even places instant orders. The touch screen allows you to scroll through the products if you can’t identify the actual product you want. However, you will not be able to verify your cart with the Show. You will need a computer to view or edit your cart and/or place your entire order.
Amazon continues to add more “skills” to the Alexa ecosystem, such as Uber and CNN, and newer apps with more video capabilities are on the way.
However, the Echo Show has its limitations. While the addition of video certainly improves the Alexa experience, the sound quality may not keep up with all the music. The quality of voice and video calls is not up to the standards of Google Hangouts and Skype. Apps are limited by the specific Alexa system.
Still, the device is ideal for those looking to join the ranks of Echo users or current fans looking to take the Alexa experience to the next level. And now, at recently reduced prices, the Echo Show may be the way to go.