Amazon Echo Show Touch-Screen Helps Improve Smart-Home Functionality

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Amazon Echo Show Touch-Screen Helps Improve Smart-Home Functionality

The Amazon Echo Show is the latest entrant into an increasingly crowded smart-home market. Over the past several days, I’ve had the chance to try it out and see whether the device’s touch-screen integration really adds more value to the smart-home hub experience. I've found that it does. During the time I tested the device, it quickly became clear that going back to a screenless smart-home hub isn’t an option anymore. The touch-screen makes it easier to use the device, control products around the home and communicate with others. And although it costs $50 more than the Amazon Echo and $100 more than the Google Home, at $230, the Amazon Echo Show delivers the best value of any smart-home hub on the market. Read on to read more about my time with Amazon’s Echo Show:

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The Overall Hardware Design Is Mediocre

I was disappointed by the Amazon Echo Show’s design. I understand Amazon needed to eliminate the Echo’s cylindrical design to accommodate the screen, but surely the company could have spent more time thinking about the Echo Show’s look and feel. It’s boxy and generally unattractive, making it a bit of an eyesore in most rooms.

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The Touch-Screen Is Quite Nice

The Amazon Echo Show comes with a 7-inch touch-screen. The display is bright and its color reproduction is outstanding. The touch-screen is responsive and makes it much easier to interact with the Alexa virtual assistant and the apps that Alexa controls. The screen added another element to the smart-home hub experience, and it’s one I now don’t want to live without.

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The Set-Up Process Was a Pain

It took about 20 minutes to set up the Echo Show. After I connected it to my WiFi network and ensured that I had an updated Amazon Alexa app on my phone, the device informed me it required a software update, which took several minutes to complete. The Echo Show then played an instructional video before I could use it. The whole process took too long.

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Remember the Alexa App

Amazon’s Echo Show requires the Alexa app to work. Those who haven't already downloaded the app to their iOS or Android device will have to do so first. It’s also worth noting that users must have the latest version of the app. Until the app is in place, there’s no using Amazon’s Echo Show.

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Amazon’s ‘Skills’ Shine

At the core of the Echo Show experience is the growing number of Amazon’s Alexa skills. From the Alexa app, I added a host of skills, including the ability to control my Nest thermostat, access music services and control smart-home products. Once they were added, I issued commands to Echo Show and Alexa responded the way I’d hoped.

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Alexa’s Responsiveness Is Stellar

Alexa is what makes the Echo Show experience. The virtual assistant responds to (nearly) every request and does an outstanding job of understanding queries. There were only few instances in which Alexa didn’t understand a command or request, and the breadth of queries it could respond to impressed me. In my opinion, Alexa is the top virtual assistant on the market.

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Sound Quality Is So-So

While it was easy to play audio or music from the Amazon Echo Show, the device didn’t deliver high-quality sound. I found the speakers were somewhat tinny and the bass was a little underwhelming. The Amazon Echo Show’s speakers are passable for most, but those looking for a high-quality sound won’t find it here.

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Its Place in the House Matters

My other smart-home hubs can be placed anywhere in the home and work just fine. But the Echo Show is different. I found it was most useful in the kitchen, where I could quickly glance at the screen for recipe help. Because the touch-screen is integral to the user experience, the Echo Show was most useful in places where I was most likely to need visual assistance.

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AmazonEchIt Provides Valuable Ways to Use the ScreenoShowTouch_9

The Echo Show’s screen adds a layer of usability to the device not typically found in other smart-home hubs. It can be used for conference calls, for instance, and if you have a Ring doorbell, you can use the screen to see who’s at the door. Other companies are adding ways to integrate home functionality with the display.

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It's a Great Value for the Price

The Echo Show, which is available now on Amazon.com, costs $230. While that’s $100 more than the Google Home and $50 more expensive than the Amazon Echo, its features more than justify the price. The Echo Show is a stellar smart-home hub that works as it should. And it adds a new wrinkle to smart-home control you won’t find elsewhere.

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