The growth in popularity of Amazon’s and Google’s voice-controlled assistants caught
many by surprise, perhaps because every must-have device these days is equipped with a screen.
Now, Amazon’s latest smart speaker has restored the status quo by incorporating
a visual display, though thankfully it’s still more of an Echo than an Amazon Fire tablet.
The design of the Echo Show is practical rather than aesthetic, with a blocky, angular body that’s ugly when compared with the stylish, fabric-clad Echo. Its 7inch screen, with a resolution of 1,024×600 pixels, is mounted above a rectangular-shaped speaker grille and has a 5-megapixel webcam at the top.
The front panel is tilted back at a slight angle to make it easier to read, and the base is reassuringly solid and heavy, covered with a thick layer of rubber. Apart from the touchscreen, there are just three buttons on the top panel (volume up, down and mute).
Despite the addition of a screen, the Show can do everything a regular screenless Echo can do: answer general questions, provide a weather forecast, find recipes, set timers and alarms, order goods from Amazon and play music and radio.
All this can be controlled using your voice – there’s no need to touch the Show if you don’t want to.
Amazon’s Echo speakers are getting better at producing decent sound and the Show has the best speakers yet. It can’t match the sound quality of a dedicated Bluetooth speaker
of the same price, but the gap is narrowing.
But all this is mere window dressing: it’s the touchscreen that really enhances this
device. By default, it displays news headlines on a series of cards, along with forthcoming
calendar entries, reminders and suggestions of things you can ask Alexa.
Requests for weather, sports results and various other queries generate a graphical info card,shuffle controls. It’s even possible to watch Prime Video and, of course, buy stuff from Amazon’s online shop.
The Echo Show’s party trick, however, is its ability to make video calls. This works
either from one Echo Show to another or between the Show and any mobile device with
the Alexa app installed (available for both Android and iOS). We found it worked
well, with good call quality, using either a home network or a mobile connection.
The Echo Show’s display isn’t going to dazzle you with its quality but it’s certainly
good enough for video calls. One particularly nifty touch is that the screen dims when
there’s no-one in the room and flicks back on as soon as it detects movement.
■ Intel Atom x5-Z8350processor
■ 5 megapixels camera
■ 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4GHzand5GHz)
■ Advanced Audio Distribution
■ 187x187x 90mm
✓Addsa screen to voice-activated
devices and Alexaapp
✗ Most expensive Echo
✗ Least attractive design of the Echo range
Is Amazon Echo Show Worth It?
The Amazon Echo Show combines all the flexibility and voice-activated brilliance of regular Echo speakers with a dash of visual flair. However, it costs a lot more than the
screen-less Echo devices.
If you’re eager to use its video-calling and video feeds, it’s definitely worth it, but even if you don’t, its display enhances rather than detracts from the simplicity and accessibility of the Echo range.
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