Have you heard an Echo lately?
Amazon continues to expand its lineup 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 by simply using your voice.
First came the cylinder like Echo. It was followed up by the hockey puck-like Echo Dot. Then Amazon added video into 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 becomes should you buy an Echo and if so which one?
Those who like to watch, as well as listen, should take a front-row type look at the Echo Show.
The Show enables you to watch video flash briefings, Amazon Video and YouTube content, and make video calls to family and friends. All on a 7 inch touch screen.
You can see music lyrics, weather forecasts and your security cameras. Even create your own to-do and shopping 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 one on the Amazon Fire 7 tablet. The text is legible but not as crisp as your smartphone or television.
The touch screen enables 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 liken it to a triangle with two shaved points when you look at it from the side. Overall it measures 7 x 7.4 x 4 inches and has a square foot panel facing at an angle that is slightly upward.
Eight microphones with noise cancellation are included. Amazon says you can issue commands from any direction, even while music is playing.
Like all of the Echo line you can stream music, turn on lights, set thermostats and control other compatible smart home devices.
It is easy to use. Once you plug it in it will show you available Wi-Fi networks. Pick a network and log into your Amazon account and you are ready to go.
Speakers include two, 2 inch speaker drivers for stereo audio powered by Dolby.
The Bluetooth capabilities are what many are finding as the real selling point of this device. Functioning as a Bluetooth speaker, as well as a sound source, you can pair the Show with your smartphone or tablet and play music through its speaker. You can use it with a separate Bluetooth speaker or headphones and stream audio directly out of the device itself.
Shopping is easier with the Show than with the voice only devices. Alexa adds items directly into your Amazon shopping cart and even places instant orders. The touch screen allows you to swipe through products if you cannot identify the actual product you want. However you won't be able to check 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.
Yet the Echo Show does have its limitations. While the addition of video certainly enhances the Alexa experience, sound quality may not be up to par on all music. The quality of voice and video calls are not up to the standards of Google Hangouts and Skype. Applications are limited by the Alexa-specific system.
Still the device is ideally suited for those wishing to join the ranks of Echo users or for those current fans who wish to take the Alexa experience to the next level. And now, at newly reduced prices, the Echo Show may just be the way to go.