Amazon’s Echo Show was initially envisioned as a large screen-based device that would offer up pertinent and glanceable information for the modern family, replacing antiquated devices such as bulletin boards, paper calendars, and sticky notes on the refrigerator. This was the original concept behind Amazon’s Echo Show. In 2017, Amazon was unable to fully realize that goal at a cost that a contemporary family would be ready to pay. Instead, it decided to offer a little, squat, touchscreen smart speaker with a seven-inch display that, to tell you the truth, didn’t do much more than Amazon’s screenless Echos.
However, it was a beginning. And as a result of the Echo Show’s development over the past few years, Amazon has finally come up with a product that it considers to be in line with that initial vision: the Echo Show 15.
Amazon Echo Show 15
✔ reliable hardware
✔ An ideal kitchen TV is one that uses the Fire TV interface.
✔ YouTube native apps
✔ large, vibrant screen
✔ The picture-in-picture feature is helpful.
❌ poor caliber of the camera (especially considering the price)
❌ Although faster than other shows, it’s still slow
❌ The remote control is used for the Fire TV interface.
❌ few possibilities for customisation
The Echo Show 15, which costs 249.99 dollars, is marketed as a shared hub for families to view important information such as upcoming calendar appointments, to-do lists, digital sticky note reminders, and shopping lists. Because it is equipped with a Fire TV interface, it also makes for a great TV to have in the kitchen. Alexa, the intelligent voice assistant developed by Amazon, is incorporated into all of the company’s Echo displays and speakers, so it naturally performs all of the same functions. This includes all of the things that you have come to rely on Alexa for, such as playing music, displaying weather forecasts, streaming video, controlling smart home gadgets, and telling fart jokes.
The Echo Show 15 is a gorgeous piece of technology that also happens to be a really sturdy piece of hardware. When it is activated, it makes a striking display on your wall, but when it is not, it blends in with the background like a digital photo frame exhibiting artwork or family photographs. It is a wall-mounted tablet that can replace the multitude of analog paper tools that busy households have traditionally relied on to interact with each other. This is a market segment that no gadget has successfully captured to this point. It is possible to utilize it on your countertop with an optional stand if you have the space to do so; nevertheless, considering the dimensions of this item (15.8 x 9.9 x 1.4 inches), mounting it on the wall is the more advantageous alternative.
The general idea is sound. However, the execution leaves much to be desired in several instances. On the very first day, there was a lot of potential for development on the software side, and this is something that is consistently true of Amazon’s gadgets. While there is a lot packed onto this fairly huge screen, the Echo Show 15, which strives to be something for everyone, ultimately ends up struggling to be particularly useful for anyone. This is despite the fact that the screen is quite large.
Since its launch, the gadget has seen tremendous improvement thanks to the incorporation of both Fire TV and an upgraded version of the Photo Frame function. The latter transforms the entire screen into a digital photo frame. My complete thoughts on the Fire TV experience can be read about on this page. However, there are still aspects that might be enhanced. (More specifically, the widgets, which I’ll discuss later.)
The Amazon Echo Show 15 is the first Show to employ Amazon’s most recent chip. It has a 15.6-inch screen with a 1080p touch display and is powered by the Amazon AZ2 neural edge processor. Even while it is substantially more responsive than the previous members of the family, it still takes two or three seconds to respond to taps and swipes.
A new homescreen design alternates between displaying the regular spinning Echo Show information (which you may personalize) and highlighting a brand-new functionality known as widgets. You may also use it as a picture frame by having it show artwork or images (however, these must be kept in Amazon Photos or Facebook and cannot be accessed from any other location).
The Echo Show is designed to seem like a traditional picture frame, complete with a black frame and a white mat in front of it. From a technological standpoint, it seems as though the Samsung Frame TV and the Facebook Portal got together and had a kid.
It only comes in one color, and you are unable to alter the traditional Alexa blue background that is located behind the widgets. I would like to see some customization possibilities across the board. A reasonable, albeit slightly tinny, sound is provided by two 1.6 speakers located on either side (or top and bottom in portrait mode), and a short row of buttons located on either the top or side (depending on orientation) offer controls for the volume up/down, mute, and camera shutter.
The Show 15, much like Goldilocks’ fabled porridge, is the perfect amount of food, at least in terms of its dimensions.
The widget idea is a welcome addition, and the possibilities are enormous. This is especially true now that Amazon has made available an application programming interface (API) that developers can use to integrate widgets into their Alexa skills. When I first tested out the gadget, there were somewhere between a dozen and a dozen and a half Amazon widgets that were just marginally useful.
They include a calendar and reminders (you can import calendars from Google, Apple, and Microsoft), a shopping list, sticky notes, smart home controls, a to-do list (Alexa is the only one who can create this), the weather, your commute, photos, maps, music and audio, reorder suggestions, Alexa suggestions, and your Amazon deliveries. A feature called “What to Eat” provides users with recipes and recommendations for nearby delivery services from companies like Domino’s and Whole Foods.
In today’s app-driven world, you probably already have preferred tools that can handle the majority of these things. However, you are unable to migrate any of these tools to the Show, which is a disappointing limitation. For the time being, Amazon is the primary focus. In the past year, there have been a few new developers who have joined the team. There is a weather widget from Big Sky, one from The Daily Show, and an Ambient Visions widget that transforms your Show display into a video of Christmas scenes, a roaring fireplace, a tropical beach, a mountain lake, or — my personal favorite — an aquarium complete with sound effects. All of these widgets can be found on the Show website. My family has found the Magic 8 Ball widget to be the most helpful of all the ones we have.
However, there is a limit to the amount of customizing that can be done with the widgets. Even though you have the ability to rearrange and resize any of them, if you have any of them activated, they take up practically the entire screen. It’s interesting to note that the widgets transform the Show from a voice-first device, which is something I’ve never been very good at using, into one that has significantly more touch functionality. The widgets ask you to come on in and stay awhile as you check your calendar, explore shows to watch, and attempt to operate your smart home with the (limited) Smart Home widget. It is the most tactile Show to date, and the widgets invite you to come on in and stay awhile (more on this later).
Even though it is intended to serve as a focal point for family organization, the Show 15 is not a particularly effective mode of communication. During my testing with Alexa calling and Drop-In, the 5-megapixel camera on this device produced photographs that were distorted and blown out, which was by far the biggest letdown for me. (Zoom does not appear to be supported.) In spite of the upgraded processor, the video continually lags and freezes, rendering it unsuitable for carrying on a conversation in its current form. Additionally, it does not have the auto-framing feature of its Echo Show 8 and Show 10 equivalents, which are both equipped with a more powerful 13-megapixel camera.
It would appear that Amazon was seeking for a way to differentiate itself from its previous product, the Show 10, which the company describes as their “communication device.” The revolving 10 can follow you about the room while you communicate, maintaining your position in the frame even if you are chopping vegetables or unloading the dishwasher. But in all seriousness, who among us is going to stock their kitchen with a Show 10 and a Show 15? Two $250 devices in one room feels like serious overkill. This would be a far more helpful piece of technology if they had upgraded the camera in the 15 to improve the quality of video calls.
Compare Echo Show devices
|Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen)||Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)||Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen)||Echo Show 15|
|Alexa built in||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fire TV built in||Yes|
|Screen||5.5” with 960 x 480 resolution||8.0” with 1280 x 800 resolution||10.1” with 1280 x 800 resolution||15.6” with 1920 x 1080 resolution|
|Speakers||1 x 1.7”||2 x 2.0”||2 x 1.0” tweeters + 3.0” woofer||2 x 1.6“|
|Camera||2 MP||13 MP with auto-framing||13 MP with auto-framing||5 MP|
|Visual ID personalization||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Built-in Zigbee smart home hub||–||–||Yes||–|
|Camera controls||Built-in camera shutter and microphone/camera off button||Built-in camera shutter and microphone/camera off button||Built-in camera shutter and microphone/camera off button||Built-in camera shutter and microphone/camera off button|
|Dimensions||5.8”W x 3.4”H x 2.9”D||7.9”W x 5.4”H x 3.9”D||9.9”W x 9”H x 6.7”D||15.8”W x 9.9”H x 1.4”D|
The size of the Show 15 is maybe its most appealing quality. The screens that have been available for use in kitchens up until this point have either been too large (like the monstrous screen that GE Appliances placed into an over-the-range hood) or too rigid (like Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator that has a portrait tablet built into it). At least in terms of its dimensions, The Show 15 is the equivalent of Goldilocks’ porridge: it is just the right amount.
According to Chris Green, vice president of industrial design at Amazon Lab126, the enclosure for the 15.6-inch screen measures just shy of 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide, and it is designed to fit beneath typical kitchen cabinets or between two entrances in an open plan house. It also has a high degree of adaptability. You can mount it on the wall in either a portrait or a landscape configuration, and because the mount that comes with it was thoughtfully built, switching it from one direction to the other is simple whenever your use case calls for it.
It is the very first and currently only Echo Show that feature a complete interface for Fire TV.
The ability to watch TV on a portable screen of sufficient quality and size while working in the kitchen is an argument in favor of making this purchase. It is the first and only Echo Show to feature a full Fire TV interface, which supports a variety of streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Paramount, Peacock, and YouTube as well as YouTube Kids.
When watching widescreen movies, however, the aspect ratio of the screen, which is 16:9, results in the presence of two black bars on either side of the image. In addition, the style of the white image frame is not conducive to an immersive viewing experience. To access the majority of the Fire TV apps, you will need to make use of the on-screen controller (other than the main interface and Prime Video). You have the option of pairing it with a third-generation Alexa Voice Remote, which, despite being a significant improvement over using the on-screen remote, is still an unusual choice for a touchscreen smart display. You can manage this Alexa device with your voice, which is by far the most convenient method, and you can ask for specific material based on the app, show, or live TV station that you want to watch.
Picture-in-picture is another another function that makes effective use of the expanded screen real estate. You are able to examine other stuff in addition to a feed from a security camera or video doorbell at the same time. You might therefore have a baby monitor on while you are following a recipe at the same time. Video may be streamed to The Show from any camera that is compatible with Alexa. If you have a video doorbell that is compatible with the system, when someone rings the bell, it will also bring up a live stream on the screen, and you will be able to chat to that person through the device.
During my testing, I at first thought that I would prefer to have it in the landscape position, and I found that this was the optimal setting for watching television. However, while using the family hub functions, like as grocery lists, calendars, and even the use of widgets, it was more useful to have the screen in portrait mode because it displayed more information. This was especially true for the control of the intelligent home. In addition, you are unable to pin a full-screen widget because it will always return to the homescreen; however, the full-size portrait smart home widget displays 12 individual tiles for each of your devices, but the landscape view only displays six or seven tiles. It is unfortunate that the widget only allows you to handle individual devices and not groups; however, when you go to the full-screen mode, you are given the option to work with groups.
Once powered on, you will be guided through a series of menus to connect to Wi-Fi and accept a laundry list of terms and conditions that are presented by Amazon. Setting up the Show is a straightforward process. The choice to add a Visual ID is brand new in this section. (If you haven’t set up a Show in a while, you might not be familiar with Voice ID, and you might not know how to enable Amazon Sidewalk.)
The Visual ID is a new feature that makes use of the AZ2 processor and uses the camera to serve up relevant content such as calendar appointments, commute times, and notes from family members depending on who is standing in front of it. These are all optional features, but the Visual ID utilizes the camera to do so. If it is configured to recognize a child, it can even be used to restrict access to content that is not suitable for children.
This is a fantastic idea in theory, but in my testing it was inconsistent, frequently failing to correctly identify members of my family, and frequently taking an excessively long time to show anyone at all. According to Amazon, the processing for the Visual ID is carried out locally, and the identifying information is saved on the Echo Show 15 device itself rather than in the cloud. Because the face profiles aren’t synchronized between different devices, you’ll need to configure it separately for each Echo Show 15.
During the process of setting up Visual ID and the feature that goes along with it, Voice ID, for my family members, particularly my children, I ran across a few problems. If you already have Amazon Kids profiles established, all you need to do to complete the setup procedure is tap on those profiles under your account settings. When it came to setting up my son’s Voice and Visual ID, however, the Show kept mistaking him for my daughter, even though I had no trouble doing it with my daughter’s ID. He did not appear to be amused. After Alexa mistakenly identified him as a 10-year-old girl for the third time, he decided he had had enough of the whole affair.
Although a wall mount is the option I personally choose, I would advise installing the device first and experimenting with it in a few different spots before making a final decision to place it on the wall. The option to mount it on the wall is not nearly as challenging as I had expected it would be. Amazon offers a paper template, and you’ll need to get out a level and a drill, but other than that, it’s relatively simple, and it’s not much more work than hanging a large picture or piece of artwork on the wall. Drill holes for the wall mount’s four screws, then attach it to the wall, and you’re finished. Because it has four grooves on the back, the Show glides into the mount, and you can freely move between portrait and landscape orientations without having to re-drill anything.
A tabletop stand may be purchased separately for the price of $30, although it does not give as much versatility (you need a screwdriver to reconfigure the orientation). There is an option that, for the low, low price of forty dollars, will let you rotate the screen from portrait to landscape without the need for a screwdriver. You can tilt and swivel an under-cabinet mount that costs fifty dollars. The stand that costs thirty dollars is one that I’ve tried out, and while it’s sturdy and well-made, it’s also quite big. The space that this appliance requires on a countertop, which in our test configuration was 289 square inches, makes it unsuitable for many different kinds of kitchens.
Cable management is likely to be the most challenging aspect of mounting things on walls. If you don’t mind a cord running down your wall and you have an outlet close by, everything should work out fine for you. But if you’re anything like me, you’re going to want to find a method to run this cable through the wall or come up with some other means to conceal it. Amazon’s Green told me that threading the wire into the wall like you would with a television is completely acceptable, but that you should be aware that you are doing it at your own peril and initiative.
The Show 15 comes with a cable that is five feet long, which might make positioning somewhat challenging. (An extension chord that is six feet long can be purchased for the price of $13) It was impossible for me to place this on the wall in my kitchen because all of the walls are tiled, with the exception of one corner of the room that would have been ideal for the purpose, but there was no outlet in the immediate area. In the end, I decided to hang it in portrait orientation in a primary hallway that serves as an entrance and exit to the house. Even while we won’t be able to watch TV this way, it will really be a more helpful spot for some of those visual reminders, and I’ll be able to control the lights in the three rooms that are closest to the TV using the smart home widget.
Concerning the aspect of the smart home, we found it to be a little bit of a letdown. It does not have a built-in Zigbee radio for connecting devices, and there are only three or four specific controls that you can reach from the smart home widget. This severely limits the functionality of the smart home widget for managing your connected home. The full-screen smart home control cannot be pinned to the display; instead, it will always go back to the homepage when it is refreshed. Tapping on the widget may not always take you to the full screen; the only method that is certain to work is to slide down from the top of the menu and then tap on the Smart Home button. Even using a voice command to bring it up was impossible for me. It was not developed with the concept of the smart home in the forefront of the designers’ minds. When Amazon finally gets around to updating their gadgets to embrace the new smart home standard, however, it will be a Matter controller.
Nevertheless, the smart home is obviously not the major use case; rather, it is meant as a tool for the organizing of domestic tasks. But only if you do all of your shopping, keeping track of your reminders, and making your to-do lists on Amazon.
If you have been looking for a smart display that can be hung on the wall, this is basically your only alternative that is ready to use. It will be a wonderful addition to your kitchen if you are content with the limited ecosystem that it supports. This Echo smart display is the best one currently available because it comes with Fire TV and better photo frame options (although I wish the photo frame could stay live for longer than three hours). However, if you prefer to manage your family using services that are not provided by Amazon, you will want to hold off on purchasing one of these widgets until you see what other offerings are developed by third-party developers.