Amazon Echo Show
Amazon Echo Show is a smart speaker that is part of the Amazon Echo line of products. Similarly to other devices in the family, it is designed around Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa, but additionally features a 7-inch touchscreen display that can be used to display visual information to accompany its responses, as well as play video and conduct video calls with other Echo Show users. The video call feature was later expanded to include all Skype users.
The first-generation Echo Show in white
October 11, 2018(Second generation)
|Operating system||Fire OS (Android-based)|
|Input||Voice command, Touchscreen|
|Connectivity||WiFi and Bluetooth|
|Website||Amazon.com product listing|
The Echo Show was unveiled on May 9, 2017, and released in the United States on June 28, 2017. It has received positive reviews, with critics noting its improved sound quality over the standard Echo speaker, its simplicity, and how the screen is used to supplement Alexa rather than act as a full-featured tablet, but noted that many third-party Alexa functions had not been updated to fully utilize the screen.
A second generation of the Echo Show was unveiled at an Alexa-themed product event by Amazon on September 20, 2018 for release the following month. The new device has a 10-inch touchscreen, improved speakers, and mesh casing.
The first-generation Echo Show (released in June 2017) contains a pair of two-inch speakers, and is distinguished from other Echo products by containing a 7-inch touchscreen. As with other Echo devices, it can conduct voice calls, as well as video calls to other Echo Show users and through Skype with its 5-megapixel front-facing camera.
The second-generation Echo Show (planned for release in October 2018) is completely redesigned from the first generation. The new device replaces the black plastic with a mesh casing, while keeping the same device shape. The speakers were moved to the side and back of the device to allow a 3 inch larger display. Amazon claims that the new version will have better sound quality. It also integrates a smart home hub into the device, similar to the Echo Plus.
The screen on Echo Show can be used to display visual output for Alexa assistant responses. The devices contains motion sensors to automatically wake its screen when someone enters a room; in this state, it can also display prompts regarding news headlines, suggested Alexa commands, and other information. Alexa can also be used to request the playback of videos on its screen, such as Amazon Video content.
The Echo Show initially supported YouTube videos; on September 26, 2017, it was revealed that Google (who manufactures Google Home, a direct competitor to the Amazon Echo line) had blocked the device's access to the service, citing violations of its terms of service and ongoing negotiations. While Amazon later worked around the restriction by using the web version, Google announced that it would block YouTube from the Echo Show, as well as the Fire TV platform, citing Amazon's ongoing restrictions against the sale of products which compete with its own video ecosystem, and refusal to support its own video platform on Google devices. At the launch of the second-generation Echo Show, Amazon claimed that the issue was now fixed. YouTube searches are now performed using the Silk or Firefox web browsers on the device.
The Verge compared the Echo Show to previous "internet appliances" such as the 3Com Audrey and Chumby, but acknowledged that neither of them were equipped with a voice-activated virtual assistant, and both were built with too much functionality. In comparison, Amazon was praised for having intentionally limited the amount of touchscreen-oriented functionality on the Echo Show, so that the device would not be complex. It was noted that few third-party Alexa skills actually took advantage of the screen, and there were limited options for video services that integrated with Alexa. The sound quality of the Echo Show was perceived as being superior to the standard Echo, but lower than other dedicated speakers at the same price point. The camera was also panned for being angled upwards (thus making it harder for shorter people to use), and for not handling backlighting well. In conclusion, it was felt that "from nearly any other company, adding a screen would have resulted in feature-itis of the worst kind. By holding back, the Echo Show feels like it does more. Its strength is in its simplicity."
Pocket-lint similarly praised the simplicity of the Echo Show, noting that it had no learning curve or app store. In regards to its hardware design, it was noted that the white model had an "air of modern", but the black model looked "kind of dated, oddly boxy, and just downright blah to us". The updated mesh fabric covering on the second-generation product addressed these complains. Its sound quality was praised for being able to "fill your entire room and then some", and the ability to look up and view YouTube videos was "not the fastest experience", but "quick enough and has yet to glitch out on us." The "Drop In" feature was praised as being potentially useful for checking on "elderly loved ones". The device was also praised for integrating with smart home products (such as home security cameras, which can display their feeds on the screen). However, the overall user experience was still hampered by the "unfinished" Alexa, noting that in one case, it accidentally interpreted a request to play music by Creed as a request to play the film Creed, and that some skills had not been updated to fully support the screen, but that "if nothing else, it is fun to poke around and explore what else Alexa can do." In conclusion, it was argued that at its price point, it could have featured higher-quality speakers and a full OS with an app store, but that its sound quality alone justified its higher price over the original Echo.
- Google Assistant smart displays
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