Part tablet, part personal assistant, Amazon Echo Show is the latest smart device to harness the power of Alexa.
What is Amazon Echo Show?
Note: This article refers to the 2nd generation Amazon Echo Show, as it is the only one currently available in Australia
Amazon Echo Show combines the voice-controlled automation features of Amazon Echo with a 10-inch LCD screen capable of displaying visual media. Alexa, Amazon's virtual personal assistant, can use this screen to provide more detailed responses to your queries. For example, instead of asking Alexa to read out all your appointments for the coming week, you can simply have Alexa pull up your calendar on Echo Show's screen.
Alexa can also use Echo Show's screen to enhance verbal responses to your requests. When you're listening to music, the screen can display the lyrics or album art. When you set a timer, you can watch it count down. When you want to know the latest news, Alexa can play a flash briefing video from outlets like CNN and Bloomberg.
Making calls is another area where Echo Show improves upon the regular Echo. In addition to hands-free voice calling to friends and family who have their own Echo or other Alexa-enabled device, Echo Show supports video calls through its 5MP camera to other Echo Show owners or anyone with the Alexa app. And like voice calls made through Alexa, video calling is completely free.
As with all Alexa-enabled devices, Echo Show can function as a hub for other smart home devices. Telling Alexa to turn on your smart lights or turn down the heater works the same as with the rest of the Alexa product line, but thanks to its screen, Echo Show can also display video feeds from compatible security cameras and baby monitors. Echo Show is compatible with a wide range of Zigbee smart home devices including Ring doorbells, Philips Hue lighting and Arlo security systems.
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What else can Amazon Echo Show do?
All the core functionality of Amazon's Alexa-enabled devices remains intact in Echo Show. That means you can ask Alexa to look up answers to your questions, catch you up on the latest news, clue you in on the weather forecast and help you plan a trip based on current traffic conditions.
Playing music remains a centrepiece of Echo Show's feature set. Powered by Dolby audio technology, Echo Show can connect to services like Amazon Music, Spotify, TuneIn and Pandora and pump out your favourite tunes through its twin 2-inch speakers. If you're invested in the Apple Music ecosystem or another service not directly supported by Echo Show, you can use Echo Show as a Bluetooth speaker instead and stream music to it from another mobile device.
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Voice-controlled shopping through Amazon is another of Echo Show's key features. Amazon Prime members can simply ask Alexa to purchase coffee, toothpaste or any other product and it'll be ordered instantly. Non-Prime members can only ask Alexa to add items to their shopping carts for manual checkout at a later time. All Echo Show owners, regardless of Prime status, can also have Alexa add items to their shopping list to ensure they don't forget anything when it comes time to do the weekly shop.
Echo Show isn't limited to its out-of-the-box functionality, either. A wide array of new features can be added to Alexa through the use of "Skills", third-party software packages that upgrade Alexa's voice-recognition capabilities. These Skills range from the ability to understand slang terms to greater compatibility with recently-released smart devices, and they're all entirely free.
What other devices is Amazon Echo Show compatible with?
As with all Alexa-enabled devices, Echo Show functions as a central hub for other smart devices in your home. The catalogue of compatible devices is vast, and includes many popular products like Ring security cameras, WeMo smart plugs and Lutron light dimmers.
Echo Show also syncs up with other Alexa-enabled devices to extend Alexa's coverage beyond a single room. Whether you've got the original Amazon Echo, its smaller sibling Amazon Echo Dot, the portable Amazon Tap or the fashion-focused Amazon Echo Look, they'll all work in concert with Echo Show to play music and respond to voice commands throughout multiple rooms of your house.
When will Amazon Echo Show be available in Australia?
The Amazon Echo Show (2nd generation) launches in Australia on 11 October 2018.
How much will Amazon Echo Show cost?
Amazon sells the Echo Show for $349.
Amazon Echo Show specs
- 246mm x 174mm x 106mm
- 10.1-inch touchscreen
- Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/c @ 2.4GHz/5GHz
- 2 x 2-inch Dolby drivers + passive radiator