If you own an Amazon Echo device, you probably know how Alexa responds when you ask her to show you funny cat videos.
"Playing videos is not supported on this device."
But if you have $230 to spend on another Echo device, Alexa will play videos from YouTube or Amazon Prime on-demand. In fact, you can even ask her to show you clips from your security camera. Meet Echo Show, the $230 Amazon Echo with a touchscreen display.
Same Ol' AI, Shiny New Features
Alexa, the AI voice assistant living inside Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and the new Echo Look, is the same AI living inside Echo Show. The things you ask Echo, you can ask Echo Show. Now if you're wondering if it can hear as well as Echo, it can. It has a total of eight built-in microphones with beam-forming technology and noise cancellation, allowing it to hear you from across a room, even while its playing music. As for its speakers, it doesn't have multi-directional speakers like Amazon Echo does, but it has two Dolby-powered stereo speakers (Echo's speaker is mono) that are powerful enough to fill an entire room. As always, Alexa can play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, or even from your connected Bluetooth device.
Same, same, and more of the same, right? Kind of. What makes all the difference is Echo Show's 7" touchscreen display and built-in webcam. These two added features unlock new functionality.
1. Visual Feedback
The first of Echo Show's new abilities is the ability to provide visual feedback. For example, when you ask Echo Show to check the weather, it will not only tell you but will show you. You can even ask Alexa to show you pictures from your Prime Photo account.
2. Stream Videos
Alexa, through Echo Show, can also stream videos from YouTube and Amazon Prime. You can say things like "Alexa, show me the trailer for Deadpool 2," "Alexa, show me funny fail videos," or "Alexa, stream SpongeBob Squarepants from Amazon Prime". Alexa promptly responds by pulling up relevant videos and playing them on Echo Show's screen. In addition, when you ask Alexa for the latest news, she can now show you flash briefings from CNN, Bloomberg, and other news channels.
3. Stream Security Camera Footage
4. Improved Music Streaming
Finally, Alexa's ability to stream music from Amazon Music and Pandora was also revamped. Instead of just listening to your favorite music, you can now sing along (and get the lyrics right) thanks to Echo Show's ability to display lyrics.
Alexa For Easy Communication
Alongside Echo Show, Amazon launched new messaging and calling features for all Alexa users for free, including those who don't have an Alexa device but have the Alexa app on their phone. The feature is divided into three parts: calling, messaging, and drop-in.
Alexa Calling is a feature that lets you call other Alexa users (assuming you have them saved as a phone contact). Simply ask Alexa to call the person you want to reach, and she'll promptly connect you with that person. If you're on the receiving end, you'll receive a notification on your device and through the Alexa app. You can answer incoming calls with your voice by saying "Alexa, answer". If the call is between two Echo Show devices or between an Echo Show and an Alexa app user, the call becomes a Skype-style video call. If you want, you can turn off the camera and downgrade to a voice call by saying "Alexa, camera off".
Aside from voice and video calls, Alexa can now send text and voice messages.
You can either type out your message using the Alexa app or dictate it to your Alexa device.
Finally, Echo Show comes with a video calling feature called Drop In. Unlike video calls, drop in calls go through automatically, even if the person on the receiving end doesn't answer. You will automatically be able to hear them and even see them through their Echo Show's camera. For the first 10 seconds, however, you will only see a frosted glass view, but after that, the video will automatically transition to a clear view. If you're not ready for the sudden Drop In, you can ask Alexa to hang up, or you can turn off your camera. You can also use the Camera Off button on Echo Show.
That said, have no fear, Drop In is optional. In fact, Amazon encourages users to only use it with their "closest friends and family members", especially for monitoring seniors. You can even deactivate Drop In once and for all using the Alexa app.
Pricing and Availability
Echo Show sells on Amazon for $229.99. They are estimating shipments to begin late June.