Big display, but a little odd functional design
Alexa is responsive and smart
Good loud audio to some extent, but no YouTube app
With the push around wireless smart assistant-powered speakers, one question that must have crossed your mind is, do we really need smart speakers? When I got the Amazon Echo Show 2nd generation for review, it was my first time using a smart speaker with a big-screen. Up until now, I had mostly interacted with virtual assistants on a wireless speaker like Google Home and Echo Dot. With Echo Show, I was really excited to see what more can this do with Alexa, and why one should actually look forward to purchase this device.
The Amazon Echo Show was launched last month in India. The Alexa-powered smart speaker comes with a 10-inch touch display with HD resolution. It can be used to watch movies and TV shows on Amazon Prime Video, for watching and listing to music in your home, view Facebook photos, catching up news bulletins, sports updates and more. The Amazon Echo Show 2nd gen comes for Rs 22,999 in India, and here’s what I think about this new Alexa-powered smart speaker by Amazon.
Functional Design, Big Display
Amazon Echo Show design has changed a bit in its second generation. The screen has become bigger, and the speakers have shifted at the back with fabric mesh design, which does look more refined than first generation Echo Show. Having said that, the design is still not great and can only be categorized as a functional design.
Up front, you get a 10.1-inch HD (1280×800 pixels) touchscreen, which is quite glossy and has extremely thick bezels. Furthermore, these bezels are not evenly laid out. The top bezel is bigger than the bottom and side bezels. You get a 5-megapixel camera for video calling above the display in center, and then there are four pin holes next to it (two on each side). Just above the top bezel, there are three buttons (mute-mic, volume up and volume down) on the top edge of the device.
No YouTube app for now, but utilizes Hungama Video nicely
Having a big display on the Amazon Echo Show was of course meant for consuming video content. You do have Amazon’s popular Prime Video to take advantage of, but the biggest drawback right now on Amazon Echo devices is the lack of support for the YouTube app. If you are considering it to be a big negative, then wait. Google and Amazon have already come to an agreement where YouTube will once again get released for Amazon devices. For now, the Echo Show can still play videos on YouTube through a browser, but I didn’t like the experience much, because it doesn’t come close to the experience we seek or get via the YouTube app.
Meanwhile, one good thing happened during my review time of Amazon Echo Show. Hungama Music, which is one of the leading music streaming platforms in India, partnered with Amazon to offer music videos on Echo Show. I found it to be very useful, as I could simply ask Alexa to play a select music video from Hungama Music library. Moreover you can also manage video providers from Alexa app through your smartphone.
Loud Audio, Different Music apps
Coming to the audio quality of the 2nd gen Echo Show, the speaker output gets really loud for a living room, which was a pleasant surprise looking at the size of the device. It gets dual 2-inch neodymium drivers and passive bass radiator. Also, there is Dolby processing, which delivers deep, powerful lows and crisp highs up to 80 percent sound level, but I found the output to be a little poor towards the high/ full volume. You can also adjust the treble, mid, and bass levels separately through voice or Amazon Alexa app. The device can also be connected to multiple Echo-devices for a multi-room music experience throughout your home. In case, none of it useful for you, then you also have an option of using it as a standalone Bluetooth speaker.
Amazon has almost all the music apps that I like to listen music from. I usually look for Bollywood music through Saavn and Gaana, which are present on the Echo Show. Also, you can enjoy music streaming from Amazon Prime Music, Hungama Music and more.
Alexa: the smart assistant
With, Alexa you can control hundreds of smart IoT devices in your home like smart lights, smart plugs, security cameras, ACs with Wi-Fi and your smart TV. I am not getting into the setup part of each device, because that is little troublesome, but once you have these devices connected, you definitely have more use of your Alexa-powered Echo Show than usual. Having said that, I strongly feel that Amazon Echo Show is a unique device for Indian market, and hence there is very little use of such skills for now.
Amazon Echo Show also has in-built smart home hub, which allows easy setup of Philips Hue smart bulbs and Anchor smart plugs without needing a separate hub. But in a more conventional use case, you can ask Alexa to look for trending topics and video news bulletins by NDTV, Times Now, Aaj Tak and more. The device has a front facing camera, which allows you to call anyone directly if they also have Echo Spot, or Echo Show.
Watch Video: Amazon Echo Spot First Look
Additionally, the same call can be done to contacts who have Alexa app on phone or have the account connected to their numbers. You can also make video calls to anyone with Skype, but I didn’t get to test it during my review time because it wasn’t particularly compelling. What worked really well for me were the Alexa skills like news from NDTV, cricket updates from ESPN CricInfo, and food recipes by Sanjeev Kapoor.
Should you buy the Amazon Echo Show?
The 2nd gen Echo Show is much improved smart speaker with a bigger display for 2019. The best part about Amazon Echo devices has been its voice assistant ‘Alexa’. The AI-powered digital assistant is undoubtedly smartest virtual assistant for smart speakers right now. It picks up your voice thanks to its eight microphones and far-field technology. The device can hear you even when the music is playing loud, and it worked 9 out of 10 times during my review time.
When it comes to purchasing Amazon Echo Show 2nd gen in India, I still have some apprehensions about the device, and purely because of its high-price of Rs 22,999 and low utility for Indians. Having said that, it is quite a unique value proposition, which means few years down the line, we would have more use of the Echo Show with smart homes in India. Until then, if you are looking for a good quality wireless smart speaker with a display to accessorize your living room and do not mind spending a little extra, the Amazon Echo Show could be a decent buy for you.