The Amazon Echo seemed like a bizarre device when it was announced, but it was just the first home of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Alexa has since expanded to more smart speakers, tablets, and phones. Now, Amazon is preparing to add a visual element to Alexa with the Echo Show ($229), the first Echo device with a screen.
Since the launch of the original Echo, Amazon has aggressively expanded its Alexa partnerships to end up with thousands of so-called “skills.” An Alexa skill is any service or product that plugs into Alexa voice commands. Skills include everything from CNN headlines to Arlo security cameras. Alexa also includes native “assistant” functionality for reminders, timers, music playback, calendar appointments, and so on. Amazon says the Show will be able to stream video clips, but doesn’t mention the ability to watch full TV episodes or movies.
One problem with many of these skills is that Alexa had no visual element. If you’re using Alexa to control your home security camera, it might be nice to see the feed from said camera without picking up another device. So, the Echo Show includes a 7-inch touch screen that can plug into select services. It’s a bit bulkier than the speaker-only Echos, and includes a more powerful Intel Atom CPU.
Like the Echo speakers, Echo Show includes Amazon’s “far-field” microphones and noise canceling technology, allowing the device to pick up your commands from anywhere in the room. If you want to have a Show in more than one room, Amazon is offering a $100 discount if you buy two.
Amazon has also taken this opportunity to add voice and video calls to Alexa. The voice calls will work on any Echo device and on phones with the Alexa app, but video calls will only be supported on the Echo Show. Simply tell Alexa which contact to call, and their Alexa-powered device will ring. There’s also a “drop-in” calling feature that lets someone turn on your camera remotely. That’s obviously a privacy issue, but Amazon pitches this as a way to keep an eye on elderly relatives or kids.
The Echo Show strikes me as a strange device to release at a time when people are buying fewer screens. Everyone wants devices that do multiple things well, not single-use hubs like the Echo Show. That said, Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem has gotten a foothold in many homes. Some people could be looking for a more powerful Echo. At least it makes more sense than the Echo Look. The Echo Show is dropping on June 28th, and you can pre-order it now in black or white.
source : https://www.extremetech.com/electronics/249043-amazon-announces-echo-show-built-touchscreen