The first Amazon Echo showcased the Alexa voice assistant that enabled you to talk to the device to give it commands, instead of pressing buttons on your smartphone app. For the longest time Alexa was only available on the Echo smart speaker that had a microphone attached so it can hear your voice. Then it would broadcast Alexa’s vocal responses over its speaker. It was nice, but since it was only via audio it was also definitely limited. But nowadays we have the Amazon Echo Show, and it’s very different.

The main difference is that the Show now offers a screen, and it’s a touchscreen to boot. Now you don’t just get audio responses, but you can also receive visual feedback as well. It’s a richer experience, since you can now tell Alexa to show you a movie from Amazon Prime or simply the weather report for the day.

But the Show isn’t the only voice assistant show on the market these days—so should you get it? Let’s find out.

The Show Design

The original Echo smart speaker looks like some sort of tower, so it can be a bit challenging to seamlessly fit it into your interior design. However, the Show comes in a nice black frame that looks more natural on a small table or counter in your living room, bedroom, or kitchen.

Display

Once you enter the room where the Amazon Echo Show is, its 7-inch display will light up and you will certainly notice its shiny screen. Usually, the screen offers helpful tips on how you can use Alexa more effectively. In some cases, it may prompt you about a news story trending over the Internet.

This is where the display comes in handy. With the Show, Alexa just won’t read you the story as it normally would with a regular Echo. Now it can show the story text too right there on the display.

You can also place this in your bedroom and not worry about the glowing screen when it’s sleeping time. It has a Do Not Disturb function, and activating this causes the screen to darken so you can sleep better without the shiny glow. You can also have the dark screen display the time.

The screen’s 7-inch diagonal measurement may seem impressive when you compare it to the size of your smartphone display. Obviously it’s bigger. However, the reality is that when it’s perched on your coffee table and you’re lounging on your couch, the 7-inch diagonal doesn’t really look all that big.

After all, many of us already have huge LED TVs at home. So if you already have a 60-inch TV, the Show’s screen looks puny. It even doesn’t compare very well with today’s modern PC monitors and even laptops.

What this means is that you may not really feel all that enthusiastic watching Amazon prime movies on this small screen at home. That’s due to better options in the house. However, the screen is large enough that it allows you to see the relevant info quite well.

That’s probably all for the better, since you’ll probably use the Show to get little bits of info whenever you’re doing various tasks at the same time. The display can show you the lyrics of the songs you play, or work with compatible baby monitor cameras to show you a live stream of what’s happening in the nursery. You can make video calls as well, since this also comes with a 5MP camera.

Speaker

In the original Echo, the speaker wasn’t really all that good. This was especially true when you compared it to the other Bluetooth speakers you could get at the time. Now the speaker is much better and at the very least it gets the job done.

Of course, it still doesn’t compare with other speakers in its price range. The sound can be somewhat rough and shallow every now and then. Still, they’re now Dolby speakers and you get a nice bass range. You can adjust the treble, mid, and bass.

You can also play music across all your other Echo devices in the house, and you can play music from Show to your Bluetooth speaker. However, this doesn’t support Bluetooth speakers that need PIN codes.

The Microphone

This is perhaps the best feature in the Amazon Echo Show, as it is undeniably impressive. It actually has 8 mics, and it also has beamforming technology and noise cancellation. You can play loud music, watch TV, or engage in conversation with others and it will still hear you when you call for Alexa.

The Uses

So how do you go about using the Show in Your daily life? This depends on where you put it and how many compatible smart devices you’ve hooked up into it. Listing everything you can do with the Show will most likely take too long. But here are some of the more astounding things you can do with it:

  1. It shows you your daily calendar. Just ask Alexa for your scrollable daily planner. You can change things by adding events with the name, date, and time of the event.
  2. You can scan an item, and then order for it online. We ought to mention this first, since the Show is by Amazon and Amazon is famous for its online retail platform. So let’s say you’ve bought a new item from your grocery store and you liked it. You want more of it in fact. You can then just hold up the item to the Show’s camera, and ask Alexa to scan the item. Alexa will then know what it is and offer you the option to order it through Amazon.
  3. You can make video calls. If you have friends and family all over the world who also have the Echo Show, then you can make video calls to each other. They just have to be in your contact list. Now if you’re a parent and you’ve got kids living in dorms, you can even use the “Drop In” feature. This starts the call even when the person you’re calling doesn’t answer the call. However, they do have to first grant permission before you can just drop in on anyone anytime. You’re able to watch news reports. When it’s early in the morning and you’re making coffee, you can ask Alexa about any currently trending news story. Alexa can read the story to you, but the text also appears on the display.
  4. You can check your security camera feed. This of course requires you to have security cameras, but then those items are must-haves if you want a smart home. This also connects to your smart doorbell camera, so you know who’s knocking on your door.
  5. It works as a baby monitor too. Since you have the Drop In feature, you can get the live feed from the other Echo Show you’ve put in your nursery.
  6. You can sing along your favorite songs. Or you can even sing along with new songs with lyrics you don’t know very well. While this feature only works with Amazon’s music services, you do have the option of listening to music from other services like Spotify and Pandora.
  7. It works as a digital photo frame. This is nice, since it already looks like a photo frame. It can show random images by default, but it can also get images through the Alexa app on your smartphone. You can also upload new photos to Prime Photos which the Show can use for its image playlist.
  8. It helps you to cook. The kitchen is one of the best places to put the Show, because it presents the list of ingredients and the directions when you look for recipes. The recipes even have ratings, so you can tell if it’s good. While you cook, Alexa can read the direction to you.
  9. If you’re eating out, Alexa can help you too. It possible for you through OpenTable to get a list of restaurants based on your question to Alexa. So if you’re looking for Italian dishes, you’ll get a list of Italian restaurants with Yelp ratings. Pick one of them, and you get the location, phone number, and hours when they’re open.

Pros

  • It looks great.
  • The microphone is terrific.
  • You can make video calls.
  • It works with a lot of smart devices.
  • It can help you do a lot of things.

Cons

  • The voice quality is so-so.
  • It doesn’t really work as a built-in hub for smart devices.
  • The speaker doesn’t compare with other similarly-priced speakers.
  • It can only work with other Bluetooth speakers, as there’s no line out with 3.5mm cable.

Conclusion

This Amazon Echo Show does expand what Alexa can do for you, since it’s no longer limited to audio interactions. With the screen, you get more info and you get to do more tasks. It’s much better than a simple Echo and you do get a lot of value for your money.