The original Amazon Echo is a great device, capable of doing lots of things you can ask for. It can play your music from streaming services, answer questions, read news or audiobooks, give a heads up on traffic and weather etc.
The intelligent personal assistant inside the device – Alexa is her name – can also control your smart lights, fans, doors, switches, locks, and always gets smarter thanks to constant updates. This little thing was so great that Google launched its own product – Google Home – aimed to rival Echo in a battle for people’s living rooms and kitchens.
Amazon had been expected to announce a new version of the Echo for a long time. So it did – meet the new screen based Echo Show. It hasn’t lost any of its predecessor’s functions, and has a few great new tricks up its sleeve. In a nutshell, the Show a cube-shaped Echo with a built in camera and a 7 inch screen. You can still ask it to do a thousand of things from across the room – man, the far-field voice recognition is amazing!
The screen, though, is the killer function. The concept is so simple one starts to wonder why it hasn’t been implemented before. As you can probably guess, the Show uses it to display its answers to you. That’s right, you get to see maps, videos, weather, pictures, virtually anything you – and developers – can come up with. The great stuff doesn’t end there, though. Remember video phones from these old retro-futuristic movies or video games? The Echo has got it. Amazon is in the process of launching a whole new communication platform for Alexa-based devices.
Now you can your assistant to call or message your parents, if they have the Alexa application installed on their phones. Amazon calls the feature Drop In – it connects momentarily and can be used from anywhere in the world. Not exactly a ground-breaking idea – we have had Skype and FaceTime for years. There is a difference between them., which people with little kids might find quite useful. The Drop In function doesn’t require a person to press answer. Your toddlers will just come over to the always-ready intercom, when they hear your voice and see your face. Can also work with pets, although there is a time-tested alternative to it – the Petcube.
It works, and it’s useful. We know this much from using the Nucleus device, which appeared on the market in 2016. It has built-in camera and screen, and works similarly to the Echo Show. It’s great to have an option to just call home and start talking to your kids instantly – without exchanging messages to prepare the conversation beforehand. It can also come in handy if you work or live in large buildings – just have a quick video chat with people instead of tiresomely typing messages on your phone.
The relatively affordable cost of the Show may help the Show become popular in the future. Especially if you know the functions you get heavily outplay traditional intercom systems with much heftier price tag. A single unit of the Show costs $230. We have yet to test the capabilities of the device, and the reactions to the reveal on social media have been mixed. People question the design, and some say that we already have the functions it offers. We have seen such reactions in the past, when the original Echo was demonstrated. Despite that, the speaker has turned out to be quite popular in the United States.
Perhaps, it’s the video phone we have been waiting for for many years. If there’s any truth to it, we will learn on June 28, when the product will officially launch. You can pre-order it by clicking on the link.
— Mike G Chambers (@mikegchambers) May 9, 2017