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Amazon Echo Show (2nd gen) review: Alexa's bigger, brighter smart display

Guardian Technology 15 Jan 2019 06:00
With a bigger and better screen, improved speakers and more refined software, the new Echo Show is an improvement in most areas over Amazon’s older Alexa smart display. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The new second generation Echo Show is bigger with a better display, but is size enough to keep Amazon ahead of stiff competition from Google?

Since the original Echo Show launched last year the software has been refined, but the experience is broadly the same. The Show is a voice-first Alexa speaker, with touch interactivity as an additional input rather than the core experience. If you never wanted to touch the screen beyond the initial set-up ,you wouldn’t have to.

When you do go to touch it, swipes and taps work as you might expect from a modern smartphone. Swipe down from the top to reveal a quick settings shade, including a smart home control panel, a place to trigger Alexa routines and one-tap access to alarms.

You can swipe through various news, sports, reminders and calendar events, through the visual cards that accompany Alexa’s answers such as extended weather forecasts, and swipe to dismiss alarms and timers.

The screen is now much larger at 10.1in on the diagonal, 720p HD, crisper and of higher quality. The difference is night and day between the old and new Echo Show.

The lump at the back contains the speakers, which like the screen are significantly improved but less direct than the front-facing speakers of the previous device.

The new Show has an integrated smart home hub, which means you can connect smart bulbs, switches and other devices that use the Zigbee wireless protocol straight to the Amazon device without the need for another hub.

TV shows and movies from Amazon’s Prime Video service work well on the 10.1in screen, with a relatively easy to use interface that can help you find the right show via taps or voice. Once playing you can control playback via voice, which is handy when things get hectic in the kitchen or similar.

Aside from multiple named timers, the Show can also guide you through recipes, either via voice or taps on the screen. Ask Alexa for a recipe and you’re given a choice from BBC Good Food and other sources.

  • It routinely got stuck on one particular photo in my library, showing it for hours on end.

  • If you’re listening to music while cooking, the Show will just display recipes and steps without interrupting via voice.

  • You can’t turn off the tips of things to try through Alexa that show at the bottom of the screen when just showing photos, which is very annoying.

  • You can disable the camera entirely if you want to, but if you don’t trust Amazon with your data you shouldn’t be buying an Alexa device.

  • You can use the Echo Show as a Bluetooth speaker or connect it to a Bluetooth speaker.

  • Despite the screen, shopping on the Echo Show is still tedious and better done via a phone or tablet.

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AlexaAmazonSamuel GibbsEcho ShowGuardian
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