Krzysztof is a lifelong future tech junkie investigating the latest stories from companies like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon.
What's the Amazon Echo Show?
Amazon's touchscreen Echo is here and it's called the Echo Show (1st & 2nd Gen)
This Echo hybrid gives Alexa a brand new set of capabilities beyond the original Alexa device with quality upgrades that are worth checking out.
But what makes this product more than just a Fire Tablet copycat, and can it compete with the Google Home Hub.
Let's find out if it's worth the risk with the top 11 reasons to own an Echo Show aka the Alexa enabled smart display.
11. Tap to Alexa
It's one of the first features exclusively geared towards the hearing and speech impaired, but that doesn't mean it can't be useful for everyone else.
Tap to Alexa is exactly what it sounds like; you have to tap your Echo Show's home screen to toggle Alexa. Furthermore you can customize your command shortcuts, swap them out or use a virtual keyboard to issue them.
To access this feature as well as Alexa captioning, go into your Show's settings and click on the "Accessibility" options.
As of July 2018, Tap to Alexa is only available on the Show but it may come to the Echo Spot down the line. Additionally it's a US only feature right now but as with most updates, it'll likely expand to other markets in the months ahead.
10. Video Calling
The biggest selling point of the Echo Show is its ability to make video calls similar to Skype.
You can call any Echo Show device and video chat with them, which is a great way to interact with friends and family members.
Additionally there's a feature called "drop-in" where you can drop in on someone to see how they're doing. I've found that it's an excellent way to check on young children or the elderly who need help/care the most.
But if privacy is an issue, you can disable that feature or put it on do-not-disturb mode.
Video calling may be overplayed but the Echo Show has figured out a way to reinvigorate landline phones with a revamped version of a dying communication platform.
9. The Touchscreen
How does adding a touchscreen to the Echo make it a better voice assistant?
Because the Echo Show can now show you things that the Echo couldn't including detailed weather/traffic reports and redesigned Alexa skills that will require visuals.
You can also see things like song lyrics and recipes that make the Echo Show an ideal product for your kitchen, which is where I plan on keeping mine.
The Echo Show's durable touchscreen perfectly blends a tablet, a Bluetooth speaker, and Alexa into a much more useful product than we could've imagined two years ago.
The Echo Show touchscreen size comes in two variants: 7" for the Original Show and 10.1" for the 2nd Gen version.
8. Better Internet Connectivity
The original Amazon Echo had a lot of connection problems even when paired with the best routers and extenders on the market.
The setup was also tedious and should have been made simpler. In order for the Echo to evolve, it needs to rely less on the Alexa app and more on its voice interface.
Echo Show has little to no connectivity problems and quickly connects to your home network.
I've had no issues with songs cutting out or have Alexa drop my network connection.
There's also less reliance on the app after the initial home network setup, which helps streamline the experience without creating headaches.
7. Better Smart Home Integration
Smart home devices are presently going through an awkward stage where people are curious about them but not a lot of consumers are buying them.
The Amazon Echo made it less problematic by helping to make sense of smart home products, but that didn't come without complications.
Alexa's connection issues carried over to smart hubs and devices, which frequently lost communication with the smart home speaker.
The Echo Show's improved connectivity makes me a firm believer in widespread smart home integration, and it'll certainly boost interest in the internet of things in the years ahead.
Additionally, the 2nd Gen Show includes a Zigbee hub that can pair with most smart home devices without the need for an extra hub. All you need to say is, "Alexa, discover my devices", and your new products should be paired within a minute.
6. Better Audio Quality
The Amazon Echo is classified as a smart speaker, but many Echo users prefer having other speakers.
Why is that?
Because the sound quality of the Echo is mediocre compared to proven brands like Bose or Sonos. This may not matter to most consumers, but audiophiles would be overjoyed if the Echo could improve its speaker quality.
The Echo Show has 8 microphones and dual Dolby speakers to produce richer, balanced sounds.
When using the product, I noticed Alexa responds better in noisy environments and I didn't have to shout the wake word for her to listen.
The 2nd Gen Show further improves on this through its speaker system update, speaker adjustment (moved to back of device), and the inclusion of a powerful Dolby bass that can be adjusted with Alexa.
5. Functional Design
Technology works best when it's able to blend into your environment, and a simple design allows customers to focus on the functionality rather than aesthetics.
The 1st Gen Show is quite blocky with a thicker covering than the cylindrical Echo, but I think that was Amazon's intention.
The 2nd Gen, however, got a whole new redesign with a soft fabric cover and smaller bezels. It looks a lot less invasive and is similar to Lenovo's Smart Display and the Google Home Hub.
Personally, even the upgraded look falls short of Lenovo's or Google's version but they've come a long way. The larger touchscreen was especially nice to see.
4. Fixes Syncing Problems
Echo Show had zero syncing problems between the smart speaker and router.
Many of today's routers are not familiar with smart devices like the Echo, but luckily Amazon has helped bring them together.
I'm interested to see how the router's firmware updates may interfere with the Echo Show, but so far there haven't been any major issues with other Alexa products.
If there are problems, then future routers can be programmed to better handle smart products, and we already have great routers/Wifi systems like Google and the eero Home Wifi system that are designed to handle smart devices.
3. Alexa Skills Integration
The touchscreen will allow for a whole new integration with Amazon Alexa's skills.
Some Alexa skills that already utilize the touchscreen include:
- Capital One
Expect to see many more skills use that 7" touchscreen to their advantage. I'm particularly excited to see how story-based skills like "The Wayne Investigation" could apply those new hardware features.
There are so many possibilities now that Alexa has a face, and I can't wait for the perfect voice-visual medium to emerge.
2. Watch Amazon Video
Alexa wanted to challenge Google Home's ability to cast videos using the Echo Show's signature touchscreen.
And now it has!
I can finally tell Alexa to pull up Prime videos or photos and have her show me what I asked for, which makes her that much more complex.
The Echo Show is already a far better entertainer than the first generation Amazon Echo, and I didn't mind watching videos on a 7 to 10" touchscreen since many of us use even smaller phones to watch content anyway.
For streaming Amazon Video however, I'm hoping we eventually see a product that'll let you cast onto your big screen TV using the Echo Show similar to Google's Chromecast.
Amazon already has the Fire Stick, which could be updated to allow for casting from your smart speakers, and their Amazon Fire TV has Alexa/streaming options baked in for handsfree TV voice control.
Yes it may be copying Google but that's one product Google Home has in its arsenal that gives it an edge in the entertainment space, but Amazon isn't too far behind.
1. WiFi Security Camera
The Echo Show can not only voice call people, but it acts as your personal security assistant.
Due to its Wi-Fi capabilities, the Echo can toggle other Wi-Fi cameras onto its network so that you can always see what's going on in your home.
I don't have a huge collection of security gadgets but this is a major selling point for those with say Nest cams. You can use the Alexa app to access your devices when away and always know what's going on in your home.
Security cameras have been one of the most successful smart home gadgets, and now the Echo Show could provide additional security without the need to purchase separate equipment.
Should You Buy an Echo Show?
If you were sold on video calling and a visual medium to express your spoken commands, then the Echo Show is a must buy.
But if you don't want to spend a lot of money, are worried about privacy, and you're happy with other voice assistants or smart speakers like the Echo Dot then this probably isn't for you.
The 1st Gen Echo Show lacked polish, it felt incomplete, and it needed more visual skill/smart home integration to truly stand out yet it still managed to create an entirely new category of smart speakers.
As it stands, I'd give the 1st Gen Show 3.5 out of 5 stars and a 4.0 for the 2nd Gen.
I was thrilled to see the much more aesthetically pleasing Echo Show 2 on display, and it's a more enticing product than its predecessor, however it may not be for everyone.
Regardless, this is an exciting time for consumer tech and with growing competition from Google and Apple, we're only going to see continuous and prosperous growth.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can the Echo Show interfere with an Alexa device in an adjoining room?
Answer: It shouldn't, all Alexa devices have something known as spatial perception where the closest device to you picks up the wake word.
NikkiRoxi on May 14, 2018:
This article is old despite it being dated April 30, 2018. I assume you updated a small portion of it? Because your survey still mentions YouTube and Google blocked access to it earlier this year. I own two Echo Shows (purchased on sale) and as far as I am aware Smart Home setup is done in the app not on the device itself. So I am not sure what you meant by better Smart Home integration. The Echo and the Alexa app in my opinion always had easy setup and integration. Once you set it up in the App any Echo Device will work to operate your Smart Home devices. I agree though I would love to cast what I’m watching on the Echo Show to my Fire TV Stick. Amazon knows they have to make that happen at some point. They have a lot to do to keep ahead of Google, but they are doing a good job in my opinion.
I love the video calling. I use it all the time to speak to my parents. I like the fact that song lyrics appear on screen if you are listening to music from Amazon. I like the fact that some Skills have added visuals so when you launch that skill there is something to see on screen. Being able to view the feeds from my Security Cameras is so cool. The only issue I’ve come across with is buffering. But that is a network issue. I like the fact that with the Echo Show I can make conference calls unlike the other Echo devices. Because a keypad appears on the screen so you can enter the conference passcode #. Making regular calls too is good because you can see the number that was dialed. Yes using it as a bedside alarm clock is cool too you can either say Alexa stop or snooze by touching the screen. If you are a light sleeper you can say Alexa turn off the screen and the screen goes completely dark.