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By now you’re familiar with smart home speakers with voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa built in. They allow you to communicate verbally and get answers to questions, perform smart home commands, set timers and alarms, make to-do lists and a lot more. Now, smart home speakers are getting an upgrade with the addition of a screen.I had a chance to test out Amazon’s new visual digital assistant gadget, Amazon Echo Show for several weeks in my home, and here’s what I learned about the device.
What is Echo Show? What can Echo Show do?
Amazon Echo Show is a smart speaker with a 10.1″ colour 720p HD video screen. Why add a screen? It not only jazzes up the device with colourful screens, and a time and info display, but it also lets you watch videos too from places like Amazon Prime (and YouTube, though that’s not as easy as you think. More later). You can also make video calls, check your video doorbell or security cameras and watch Canadian newscasts.
Setting up Echo Show
Setting up this device was easy and straight forward. You’ll plug it in then follow the instructions on screen that involve getting connected to your home Wi-Fi and signing in to, or creating, an Amazon account.
Watch Amazon Prime Videos
You can ask Alexa to dial up your favourite Prime Video shows, like Bosch, by saying ‘Alexa, Open prime Video.’ This lets you surf using the touch screen to see what’s there. You can also ask for a specific show, and Prime Video will dive right to it.
Trying it with Ring Video Doorbell
If you’ve got a Ring Video Doorbell or Stick Up cam, you can pull up the feed just by asking. This assumes, of course, you’ve already linked your Ring account to Alexa.
How to customize the screen on Echo Show
“Amazon’s default backgrounds for the Show are kind of… dull.
Fortunately, you can upload a photo from your phone through the Alexa app.
In the Alexa app, go to your device by selecting the Devices tab along the bottom bar. Choose your device (mine is called Kitchen) from the list, then scroll down among the settings until you see Home Screen Background. Choose this option and it should populate a list of your photos. Choose the one you want.
To remove or change the photo, follow the same steps and you’ll see “remove’ is an option.
While this is a nice option, it appears you can only have one photo as opposed to a gallery of images. That’s kind of disappointing. Though there is apparently an option to do a slideshow of your Amazon Photos. I don’t have this set up so I didn’t try it.
On a related note, I couldn’t really see how to get more info to come up on the screen. All it would show me is two “Trending Topics” and a list of Celebrity Birthdays. No news info or anything like that. I fished around in the settings to see what else I could get but couldn’t find anything. If I do, I’ll create a separate video later on.
How to Watch YouTube on Amazon Echo Show
If you ask Alexa to play a video on YouTube (Hey Alexa, play Foo Fighters on YouTube) she won’t. She’ll use Bing to locate your video and play it through there. To properly use YouTube you need to be a bit more direct.
There’s two ways to watch YouTube on the Echo Show. The first way is with Amazon’s Silk browser. Just say, “Alexa, open Silk” and YouTube is the top quick launch button.
You can also simply say, ‘Alexa, open YouTube’ and it will open the web version. If it’s your first time using YouTube, you’ll be presented with a choice of default browsers; Silk or Firefox, and you can choose.She’ll remember your choice on future launches.
How is Audio and Video Quality on Echo Show?
With the bigger speaker, the Show is definitely more powerful than the regular Echo device. While the Echo does have a 360 degree speaker, the Show’s speaker is rear facing, but that doesn’t seem to compromise the sound quality overall.
The bass is pretty rich on this speaker, and it’s more than loud enough for my space even at just half the volume level. The sound overall is full and rich and I’m more than happy with what I’m getting from it.
Overall review of Amazon Echo Show
Overall, I really enjoyed the Echo Show experience. Despite the fact there’s some features that don’t work, in this case I think the benefits more than outweigh any drawbacks.
The audio quality is excellent, as is the video quality; great for watching TV while I make dinner. I like having access to my calendar to check whats coming up for the week, and being able to get a news update in a few minutes while I get ready for work.
If you’re looking for a smart digital speaker than can do more, you’ll probably really like the Amazon Echo Show. It sells for about $299CAD from places like Best Buy and Amazon, of course.