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Home > New Gear > Amazon Echo Show review: is it worth buying?
Amazon Echo Show review: is it worth buying?

Amazon Echo Show review: is it worth buying?

By  Ponyo Hall 2019-06-12 452 0

A mix between a digital frame from the 2000s and an audio assistant: that's how the concept behind the Amazon Echo Show can be summarized. An idea that does not lack interest, but does not go far enough.

Since the first Echo, Amazon has constantly evolved its range of connected assistants. First there was the discreetly designed Echo Dot, then the Echo Spot, which had a small screen with a touch control in the form of a connected alarm clock. Obviously, this latest innovation has given Jeff Bezos' firm some ideas as it has gone even further with its new product.

Launched on Wednesday, March 27, the Amazon Echo Show features a touchscreen-like display. This major change goes hand in hand with a higher price than its predecessors: 229.99 euros. Currently, the Echo Spot is available for 129.99 euros, the Echo for 99.99 euros and the Dot for 39.99 euros. Is the cost of this new machine really justified? After testing it, here's what we learned from the Echo Show.

HALFWAY BETWEEN A PHOTO FRAME AND A SPEAKER

At first glance, the Amazon Echo Show looks a lot like a digital photo frame. Like the Echo Spot, it has three buttons on the top: one to mute Alexa's microphone and two others for volume. Its screen is also tactile, but much larger than its predecessor: while the Spot is the size of an alarm clock, the screen of the show reaches 10.1 inches, in addition to being in high definition.

The other major visual change of the Echo Show is its integrated speaker. Much more massive than the other machines in its range, it gives a cathodic television look to the audio assistant.

VERY GOOD SOUND QUALITY

The Amazon Echo Show takes up space, but it's not for nothing. If you can find its basses a little too powerful compared to its treble, the sound is still of very good quality. The speaker produces a "enveloping" sound (which doesn't seem to come from a single direction) quite impressive, knowing that it is located at the back of the unit.

Even if you install the Echo Show near a partition, the music will not be altered. At full volume, there is no particular distortion. As a speaker, the Amazon Echo Show defends itself very well, and we feel it particularly well with music and series.

A NICE SCREEN, BUT NOTHING MORE

Amazon has equipped the Echo Show with such a large screen first and foremost to provide a clearer display of information. In addition to answering questions by voice, the device will also provide some visual details, such as the temperatures for the coming week when you ask about the weather. It is also possible to program the home screen to broadcast the information you want (sports results, favourite media, etc.). Some new "skills" (machine-specific features) have been specifically created to fit the screen. One thinks in particular of Marmiton, the cooking website that has partnered with Amazon to offer recipes step by step. These appear on the screen with the ingredients and it is therefore much easier to follow the instructions.

The other great promise of the Echo Show is to be able to watch your favorite shows. On the serial side, no problem: the Amazon Prime service works well. On the other hand, don't count on Netflix, OCS or Canal+ to brighten up your evenings... On the television side, the offer is startling: at launch, only BFMTV and France Info are available. Amazon may obtain partnerships with other programs in the future, but television is not an asset at this time. This is a pity, because accessing a large number of channels would have been a strong point for a machine intended to be placed somewhere as a passive screen.

Overall, the screen adds a little more clarity to the information and some nice features, but it is far from being essential and does not revolutionize the use of the Echo range.

A STILL DIFFICULT UNDERSTANDING

Like all the other objects in the Echo range, the Show works with Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant. And as with all the others, Alexa has trouble responding to requests. However, the machine is equipped with a bar with 8 microphones that are supposed to be equipped with noise reduction. Apart from parasitic sounds, the Echo Show detects our voice from a distance, even if it is a floor above it and without shouting. If a few slight sounds disturb him, he almost has to stick to the screen so that he understands what is being asked of him. However, this problem does not occur during calls (via the Alexa or Skype application) and the voice is transmitted clearly.

Noise is sometimes not the only problem, Alexa sometimes having difficulty understanding the simplest orders. While being asked for a recipe for pancakes, he launched the first episode of Vikings. However, the part was silent and the request was made less than one metre from the machine. In short, by trying to put voice assistants everywhere, it seems that manufacturers forget most of the ergonomics of a device.

IN BRIEF

The Amazon Echo Show is not a bad product, but it lacks interest compared to other machines in the Echo range. Its screen allows you to enjoy some nice features, but all of them are very accessory. The multimedia offer that could have made it a good backup screen is almost non-existent outside Amazon Prime Video.

We will still remember a good quality screen and an even better speaker. Whether it is a problem related to microphones or Alexa, the transmission of instructions remains, on the other hand, not easy.

The good

The bad

The quality of sound

The price

Some nice skills

The multimedia

Clearer reading of information

Alexa's comprehension difficulties

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