Welcome to the Show. Confirming earlier rumors, Amazon is giving Alexa a touchscreen. The Echo Show ($229.99, available for pre-order now) has a 7-inch display, which enables the digital assistant to display news clips, videos, photos, and more.
Plus, Amazon is introducing a new chat service that lets you call anyone else with a supported Echo device or the Alexa app.
The videos available on the Echo Screen range from "flash briefings" from organizations such as CNN, as well as YouTube videos, so you can ask Alexa for a video tutorial on how to tie that tie, fix that appliance or set up your latest smart home gadgets. It will also let you see feeds from security cameras.
Of course, the Echo Show will also do everything that any Alexa-enabled speaker can do, including control smart home devices, answer questions and order products from Amazon. The Echo Show should also be great at hearing you, as its 8 top-mounted microphones enable voice recognition from afar.
Amazon also announced the Alexa Calling & Messaging service, which will use all Echo devices and Alexa apps to make free calls, texts and video chats. Users can opt for audio-only calls when answering from the Echo Show by simply saying so to the speaker. A feature called Drop In calls allows users to "connect instantly;' you'll be able to select who can and can't use that feature.
Inside the wedge-shaped Echo Show, which measures 7.4 x 7.4 x 3.5 inches, is a 5-MP camera, dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor, and dual 2-inch speakers "powered by Dolby," according to Amazon. It's the second Alexa-enabled device with a camera, as Amazon announced the $200 invite-only Echo Look just a couple weeks ago.
The inclusion of a 7-inch display will also allow users to consume more Amazon Prime content than before, including its TV shows and movies, though we can't imagine it will be all that great of a viewing experience. Judging by the promotional video released by Amazon, you could also use the Echo Show as a mini karaoke machine, too.
As with other Alexa-enabled devices, Echo Show owners will be able to stream music through Amazon's own music service, as well as Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TuneIn Radio. The dual speakers in the Echo Show should provide better fidelity than the Echo Dot, though we're curious to hear how it compares to the Echo, Google Home, and the upcoming Microsoft Invoke.
Available for pre-sale now for $229 (or two for $358), the Echo Screen is due June 28.