Amazon’s Echo Show won’t be available until Wednesday, but some early reviews are already up and it appears that the critical reception to Amazon’s Alexa-powered touchscreen device is mostly positive.
While there are a few gripes to be had, early reviewers were rather impressed by the potential of Amazon’s new smart speaker. Priced at $229 (and available to preorder now on Amazon), the Echo Show includes everything consumers already love above the Echo albeit with some new bells and whistles thanks to the device’s 7-inch touchscreen display and front facing camera.
From being able to make hands-free video calls and viewing lyrics while listening to songs, to watching cooking videos on YouTube while you toil away in the kitchen, Amazon boasts that the Echo Show will provide users with an incredibly compelling user experience.
Now as for what some of the early reviews are saying, let’s dive in.
Gizmodo for one was particularly impressed by the added functionality a touchscreen design provides.
And this package is so good at what it does that its failures feel like collateral damage. 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.
What the Echo Show is doing isn’t ground breaking, but until now, if you wanted to have a super smart touchscreen brain running your home and delivering stuff like the weather and your schedule, you either had to hack it together yourself or make like Mark Zuckerberg and spend a whole lot of cash.
TechCrunch, on the other hand, wasn’t as taken by the device’s design, but said that phone functionality could very well be the device’s “killer app.”
The Echo Show isn’t a great piece of hardware. It’s beefy and clunky, and kind of looks like something that fell off the back of a RadioShack truck in the late-80s. The display isn’t great (there’s a reason the company’s not talking specs) and sure, the speaker gets loud, but if you’re looking for music playback, there are thousands of better Bluetooth speakers on the market.
In a similar vein, The Verge also praised the ability to make and receive phone calls on the Echo Show.
I love making calls with Alexa. Video calling, both Drop Ins and garden-variety video chats where one party initiates a call and the other accepts it, are the Echo Show’s killer feature for now. Because I only have one other contact with an Echo Show (again, the nice woman who works for Amazon), I only made a handful of video calls. But they are all amazing. (Eventually, these video calls will also work with the Alexa smartphone app, in addition to the Echo Show.)
Engadget’s review reads in part:
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. When I asked about the weather, Alexa would respond and show me the forecast for the next few days. When I asked about my to-do list, I could see it and hear it as well. Having some time to sit there and digest the info in a visual way was immediately useful. It’s not necessary, but it is nice. And if you’re not right in view of the screen, you can still talk to the Echo Show and get the info you’re looking for.
The screen augments most of Alexa’s usual features, but it also enables a number of things that you couldn’t do before. Chief among those is video calling. Amazon added voice calls and messaging to the Echo family recent, but the Echo Show is the only one with a screen and camera. You can make video calls with anyone who has the Alexa app set up on their phone — regardless of whether they actually have an Echo Show yet.
Right now, the Echo Show’s on-screen features aren’t show-stoppers. We’re still waiting for a bunch of skills to catch up with the new capabilities. Right now, the Jeopardy! skill just displays the clues as Alexa reads them. Helpful, but there could be more. Still, we can see a lot of potential from our first round of testing.
Lastly, a quick video of the Echo Show in action was posted to Amazon’s YouTube channel over the weekend. You can watch it below to get an idea of how the Echo Show works:
The Echo Show won’t be available to purchase until June 28th, but you can preorder one now: