Amazon’s first Alexa-enabled device with a touchscreen is here. The $229 Echo Show offers a 7.5-inch display that lets you view videos, make video calls, view recipes and more. It also boasts dual speakers, promising better sound quality than the regular Echo.
The Echo show generally received positive reviews, with many commending the improved speakers over the original Echo and the usefulness of having a visual interface. The reviews somewhat disagreed on the merits of its design. Many also noted that there were still not enough screen-specific uses yet.
Here's what reviews from around the web are saying about the Echo Show:
CNET’s Ry Crist gave the Echo Show three out of a total of five stars. He noted that the Show is particularly useful as a home-video call center, but criticized its uninspired design and the lack of Alexa-specific tasks that take advantage of the the touch screen interface.
“To me, the biggest draw is hands-free, voice-activated video calls with other Alexa users.”
“The sound quality was surprisingly strong -- and, to my ear, noticeably better than the Amazon Echo, which has a habit of distorting bass just a bit at high volumes.”
“In the end, the touchscreen's limitations seem to stem from uninspired design on Amazon's part. Some of that design feels downright lazy.”
“Aside from the smart home camera feeds, only a handful of the more-than-10,000 Alexa skills will actually put the touchscreen to use at the time of Echo Show's launch.”
When reviewing the Echo Show for USA Today, Edward Baig and Elizabeth Weise found its “Drop In” feature compelling, likening it to a neighbor or relative dropping by for a friendly virtual visit. The writers were both looking forward to the new abilities that would be coming to the device in the future.
“It’s not much of a stretch to consider various ways in which someone with an Echo Show could benefit from the presence of a screen. Instead of just having Alexa announce the results of a ball game, for example, you can watch highlights or check out a box score.”
“During a prelaunch demo, the dual 2-inch speakers sounded decent, with an emphasis on bass. They’re a step up from the Echo speakers, and seem better tuned for playing music, which more and more people use them for.”
“The product, which comes in black or white, resembles an old kitchen counter-top TV set.”
“Tellingly, Amazon staffers were open that they didn’t quite know all the use cases people might come up with for Show, and they were eager to see what unfolds in the first few months it’s available.”
Writing for Business Insider, Matt Weinberger said the Echo Show as “not quite the game-changing breakthrough that was the original Echo.” He found that many of the built-in Alexa experiences benefitted from the use of a touchscreen and that it was convenient to have in some settings like the kitchen, but ultimately did not know how well it could fit into someone’s everyday life.
“The screen gives the Echo Show the ability to perform some neat new tricks. For instance, if you ask Alexa to play a song from Amazon Prime, the lyrics appear, karaoke-style.”
“Another neat thing is that Echo Show will actually integrate with common smart security cameras, like those from Nest or Ring, so you can tell Alexa "pull up the nursery" and it'll show the feed on your screen.”
“Hardware-wise, the Echo Show isn't particularly petite. It sports fewer microphones than the stock Echo, but Amazon promises that software magic makes it just as responsive. And its sound isn't quite as good as the regular Echo, but it's still pretty solid.”
“Still, it's hard to see where it might fit into your life.”
Engadget noted that the touchscreen really does improve Alexa’s usefulness. He said that the speakers sounded better than the last model, though he did find the design to be less elegant than the original Echo. He was impressed with how easily the Show was able to pick up his voice commands accurately.
“To that end, I found it [the screen] performed well; it's bright and clear enough, and viewing angles are fine.”
“A big part of the value I found in the Echo Show was how useful it was to... well, have the device show me information.”
“Unfortunately, there's nothing out there yet that I can try, but the smart way Amazon has used the screen to enhance existing Echo features makes me excited to see what developers do here.”
“Aside from costing more money, the only downside to the Echo Show is that it's more obtrusive than the slim, cylindrical Echo."
Once she got acclimated to the device, Gizmodo’s Alex Cranz found that the Show generally lived up to the expectations she had for the device in terms of its listening capabilities and integration with Amazon’s content ecosystem. She thought that all of touchscreen specific capabilities and features justify its $50 price jump over the regular Echo, describing it as more visually appealing as well.
“With a powerful speaker and a bright, surprisingly high-quality display, the Echo show answers all my simple questions so neatly, and provides the data in such a perfectly consumable format, that I keep expecting it to be able to do more.”
The old Echo hides behind a router, but the Echo Show, like the Google Home, is one of those digital home assistants I don’t mind taking up a prominent place in the living room or bedroom—even if its super sharp black edges give it a distinct ‘90s Sharper Image vibe.
“But man, when Amazon’s new Echo acts stupid, the device is an exercise in dashed expectations.”
“As with that device, the Echo Show is overly reliant on skills—the mini-apps that allow Alexa to move out of the carefully constructed ecosystem and onto other sites and information repositories.
The Echo show scored an 8/10 in The Verge’s review. Dieter Bohn appreciated the Show’s restraint more than anything else in his experience with the device, writing that the speaker improvements and the video chat’s ease of use. His biggest concern was with the relatively few apps that took advantage of the new form factor.
“Anytime you see a touchscreen, you also usually also see an entire operating system and an app store that goes with it. But that’s not true of the Echo Show, which smartly relegates the screen to secondary importance.”
“There is one new feature on the Echo Show: video calling. It worked well in my tests, at least between two Echo Shows.”
“Amazon has managed to get way more skills for Alexa than anybody really expected, so now it needs to repeat that accomplishment with the Echo Show. More skills need to take advantage of this screen to truly justify the upgrade.”
“But, of course, the Show doesn't sound nearly as good as a high-end speaker like a Sonos Play:1. For basic listening — having something on in the background while you're cooking, for example — it's more than fine. For $230, I think Amazon could have done a little better here, though.”
“Sadly, the camera on the Show doesn't handle backlighting well at all, and it's angled up slightly so children will have to jump up on a chair if you have it on your kitchen counter.”
David Pierce gave the Echo Show a 7/10 score in his review for Wired. He determined it to be a more feature-complete Echo experience given its camera and visual interface, but criticized it for its “ugly” design. Pierce says that the hardware was good, but again that there is just not enough Alexa features that take advantage of it yet.
“The responsive, bright touchscreen does everything it should, and the microphone array picks up my voice from two rooms away. Where the original Echo sounds muddy and quiet, the Show’s speaker easily fills a room.”
“Right now, it’s simply an Echo with a screen, giving Alexa more to do and more ways to be useful.”
“For a device meant to be prominently displayed in your home, the Show offers zero personality or flair.”
In her review for Digital Trends, Jenny McGrath gave the Echo Show a 7/10. She found that the device was easy to set up and enjoyed having a visual interface for some tasks, but thought that there weren’t enough existing skills that currently take advantage of the screen. McGrath was also concerned with the privacy issues of the “Drop-In” video calling feature.
“Setup is pretty quick, especially if you already have another Alexa device.”
“You can see your reminders and lists, which is much handier than going into the Alexa app. Our favorite is the timer, though. It’s something we use constantly in the kitchen. While it’s not difficult to ask for how much time is left, glancing at the Show gives the answer.”
“The integration with cameras and video doorbells aside, there haven’t been a lot of updates to current Alexa skills announced as of yet.”
“We’re waiting for more personalization options for the display, like the ability to always display your calendar instead of headlines, or being able to change the font and so forth.”