3 months ago I found an Amazon Echo Show (slightly used) on eBay for a steal of a price. I decided it was time to jump into the newest and most unique member of the Amazon Echo or ecosystem. This post is a short summary of my thoughts after using the device for some time now. For context, I own a Kindle Fire HD 8, 2 Amazon Echo Dots and Amazon Echo Show and an Amazon Echo (Original). I really love the Echo and have followed the ecosystem closely while building out my smart home.
Does it work just like the Echo?
For the most part, the Echo Show and original echo are on par in terms of speaker and microphone quality. When I first got the Echo Show I noticed it had a harder time hearing me than the Echo did. After a software update, that problem went away. Otherwise, all of the same audio controls work on the Echo Show as you'd expect. I'll go into the screen's advantages and disadvantages later in this post.
From my point of view, the size of the Echo Show is alarming at first glance. For a device that is basically a Kindle Fire HD with nicer microphone and speakers, it seems like the size is unjustifiable. That being said, once you find a place to it, it really blends in and the size becomes less of an issue. I got the white version of the Echo Show but it fits in in my mid-century modern styled living room for example.
I read a few reviews about the Echo Show screen being low quality, and I can' really agree with that take. While the screen isn’t as crispy as a Retina Display, it is perfect for what the Echo show is trying to accomplish. Displaying some weather cards, album art, videos all look great on there. I use the screen more for pausing music, looking at news and an occasional YouTube video. While the Echo show works with Amazon Prime Video, I have only played with the feature briefly. With the device as a kitchen or living room device it, it seems like a rough trade-off to watch The Wire on that screen versus a 4K TV sitting close by.
I did some traveling recently and decided to use the Echo Show video calling to contact my family. I called from the Alexa app on my phone and the quality was great. My wife commented that she preferred this experience because gathering around the show is a lot easier than dealing with keeping our one-year-old away from an iPad, iPhone or Mac.
I think the Echo Show is a pleasant device that needs some more developers working on apps for it. A lot can be done to make the echo show more of a "command center" for the smart home. The voice-based “Turn on the lights” is great, but a command center screen like HomeKit or SmartThings would be welcome additions. With the Kindle FIre HD 10’s recent advertisement it seems like the Echo Show was really an attempt to figure out how to get a screen into your smart home and maybe the Kindle makes more sense to have in your hands.
The last thing I will say is I think the Echo Show is an underrated device for children. My daughter is one and she always loved the Echo. Whenever we say “Alexa” she anticipates music coming from the speaker. She loves lyrics going down the screen and we have played YouTube videos on the Show for her for on occasion. I’m not a “product guy” and can’t anticipate the future directions of the Show or if Amazon will come out with a second generation. I do know it’s fun to have and I hope the use cases expand beyond those I had without the screen.