And the Video Phone Science Fiction Promised US
Amazon’s New Flagship Echo Device Blurs the Line Between TV and Tablet
The original Echo Show was the company’s first attempt at adding the convenience of a screen to the Alexa smart speaker platform. While it could technically display video content from Amazon’s Prime Video service, and occasionally YouTube, its practical benefits were more fundamental. Alexa users could speak commands to see the weather forecast, view ongoing timers, or check out live feeds from security cameras.
The newly announced second generation Echo Show makes some obvious improvements to the concept. It boasts a bigger 10-inch HD screen with thinner bezels, making the device look much more like a stationary tablet instead of some awkward hybrid of a Bose Soundwave and the classic kitchen TVs of the 90s. An integrated smart home hub is the other significant upgrade. Just like the Echo Plus speaker before it, the new Echo Show features a Zigbee radio that allows the device to speak directly with a variety of other smart devices that rely on the platform, eliminating the need for an additional gadget in your smart home setup.
Other welcomed tweaks include the modernized fabric styling of more recent Echo devices as well as better, Dolby-optimized speakers. Amazon also clearly sees promise in the Show’s video calling capabilities and announced that Skype calls will soon be supported along with Amazon’s proprietary and semi-creepy “Drop In” feature. This change won’t dethrone FaceTime calls via the iPad, but for Apple-free households, it could be the next easiest option for video chatting with friends and family.
All-in-all, the device now feels like a true smart home hub that’s more capable than ever, which is a good thing given it must now compete with an oncoming wave of similar Google Assistant compatible devices like Lenovo’s Smart Display.
And like the old Echo Show, Amazon’s kept pricing at $229.99. Preorders will start today and devices will ship sometime next month in either charcoal or white color options.