Amazon found itself the perfect platform for Alexa with the Echo speaker, allowing them to bring the intelligent virtual assistant into many people’s homes, despite some doubts and reservations during its initial launch. With the platform proving itself, the company has ramped up on expanding the line, throwing in a mobile speaker and another one equipped with a fashion-focused camera. This time around, they’re giving Alexa a full-fledged communication hub with the Amazon Echo Show.
Equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen and an integrated five-megapixel camera, the device allows users to talk to one another using the Alexa Calling feature. It’s not just those who use Echo Show that you can talk to either, as it can interface with any other Alexa-powered device (including third-party devices), as well as the outfit’s smartphone and tablet apps. There’s also a feature called Drop-In, which automatically establishes communication – think of it like instantly hearing someone’s voice on your phone without the option of rejecting their call. And, yes, we have a feeling it can be turned off for those who might find such a capability a little creepy.
This is a significant development for Amazon’s Alexa platform, which, so far, served as an information center, a control hub for home automation, and a fun novelty. Turning their devices and apps into full-fledged communication platforms should open up an entirely new avenue for the company – one that could turn Alexa into an integral part of every household. And, yes, that bodes well for further increasing Amazon’s 70 percent hold in the virtual assistant fray.
MORE THAN A COMMUNICATION TOOL
Aside from the communication it facilitates, the Amazon Echo Show’s screen also allows it to enhance its responses with clear visuals, giving it added tools at its disposal when it comes to answering your queries and commands. That same screen can also be used to watch YouTube videos, see quick news briefings, display a live feed from compatible cameras and baby monitors, see lyrics while it plays songs, and, we’re guessing, a whole lot more, as Amazon works out deals with content providers.
Like the Echo speaker, the device is fitted with eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, allowing it to hear your voice and understand you clearly from anywhere in the room. Dual two-inch speakers powered by Dolby tech promise powerful, room-filling sound, ensuring it can serve as viable way to enjoy your favorite music playlists.
Of course, the Echo Show retains all of the original speaker’s capabilities, so you can still use it to order an Uber, shop with your voice, switch on your Philips Hue bulbs, and produce goofy sounds, along with the thousands of other skills Alexa has on tap. This time, though, Amazon is opening their “skills” tool to add visual components, so expect a gaggle of new skills that incorporate videos, maps, images, and other visuals. Yes, that means video ads are likely (well, definitely) going to make their way into your Echo, too. Hey, there has to be a downside somewhere.
Aesthetically, it reminds us of the Sony Dash, albeit with a larger bottom area for the speaker hardware. While some internet pundits have panned its appearance, it’s really not that bad. Truth be told, it looks like a cross between those small TVs people used in the kitchen back in the day and the modern tablet form factor. It measures 7.4 x 7.4 x 3.5 inches.
Slated to ship June 28th, the Amazon Echo Show is priced at $229.99. You can also order two for $259.99 – a $100 discount.