When I first reviewed the Amazon Echo Show 15 a little less than a year ago, I thought that it had a lot of promise, but it needed more for Amazon to justify its high price of $249.
Amazon might have just came through. At today's Amazon event, the company announced a big upgrade to its largest smart display, whereby it could act as a FireTV. This is a game-changing feature that will turn the Echo Show 15 into a much more useful device, and perhaps the best smart display overall.
I've got an Echo Show 15 set up in my kitchen. On Sundays, when I'm making a pot of tomato sauce or preparing something for dinner, I have to zip back and forth to my living room if I want to catch up on football games. My kitchen isn't quite big enough to justify even a small 24-inch TV, and even if it were, I'm not sure I'd want a big, blank screen in there.
The Echo Show 15 justifies its non-TV-ness by letting me stream music, look up the weather, and it's great as a digital picture frame, too. And currently, you can stream from a handful of services such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and Sling TV. However, it's not the full experience you get with Fire TV. At the very least, my daughter will be thrilled that we'll be able to get Disney Plus on yet another screen in the house.
I also like that the Echo Show 15 is getting support for Amazon's Alexa Voice Remote; even though I'm more likely to use my voice if my fingers are covered in dough or something else, it's nice to have options.
Other improvements coming to the Echo Show 15 are more geared towards smart home power users; you'll be able to use the screen to view feeds from up to four home security cameras at once. It's a great feature for the paranoid, and certainly better than having a dedicated screen in your kitchen just to watch what's going on around your home.
The Echo Show 15 will also be able to act as a hub for other Echo devices on the same network; that way, if your Internet connection goes down, you'll still be able to control smart home devices through a central node.
But it's the addition of Fire TV that has me most intrigued about what the Echo Show 15 is about to become. While Amazon hasn't given a timeline as to when these features will roll out other than "the coming months," it can't get here soon enough.