Amazon is back at it again with another version of its popular Echo device – this coming only a couple weeks after announcing the Echo Look, which is basically just an Echo with a built-in camera geared towards helping people with their outfits and fashion styles.
The Amazon Echo Show (see on Amazon) on the other hand features a seven inch screen and two Dolby powered speakers. Yes, you still have the normal Echo features – play music, weather and traffic updates, news, sports scores, control other smart home devices, etc. But the Echo Show adds on a few more features – you can now watch video flash briefings (CNN, Bloomberg, etc.), watch YouTube videos, use the Echo Show as a security camera, make hands-free video calls to friends and family and see music lyrics on screen. Here’s Amazon’s quick promo video:
Okay now allow me to play a little devil’s advocate:
After watching the video I was all fired up – Immediately thought what a cool device. But then I started to realize, what’s the Echo Show’s biggest feature? Well, arguably it’s that you can now video chat with people. But the vast majority of people nowadays own a smartphone where you can either FaceTime or use the popular Skype mobile app. Both of which are much more convenient – I don’t think you will be picking up the Echo Show and walking around the house while you chat. It’s a stationary device (i.e. needs to be plugged in) so you will need to stay in one room the entire time…that could get annoying, especially for someone like me who can’t sit still for more than 45 seconds.
Same sort of idea with the video flash briefings and YouTube videos – convenient but not that big of a deal, at least in my eyes. It’s one of those things that you think you need or that you would use, but I bet if you had the Echo Show, you’d still be grabbing your phone to get on Twitter, ESPN, USA Today for news updates and to search YouTube videos.
You can now see lyrics while playing music – not even going there. The fact that this is a major highlight in the video promo (or even made the video for that matter) should be signaling alarms.
Lastly, the whole “you can use it at as a security camera / baby monitoring” feature is cool. I agree. But that also means you will most likely be buying two Echo Show devices unless you just want to put the one device in your baby’s room and watch from the Alexa app, thus sort of eliminating a lot of the features you would be buying this for. And at $230 a pop – that’s an expensive baby monitoring system.
So that’s my two cents, for whatever its worth. I like the idea of the device, it’s got some “Wow, that’s kind of cool” features, but I would just caution you against running out and ordering one right away. Take a step back, forget about the neat promo video you just watched and ask yourself if you are going to video chat with someone, are you going to FaceTime them or go sit in a room and use the Echo Show?