When it comes to audio and video quality, the Amazon Echo Show 15 is a good choice if you have a counter or table area.
- Design that is appealing
- A large screen can display a large amount of data.
- Widgets provide additional functionality.
- Expenses are high, and the camera quality is poor.
- Audio quality is mediocre.
AMAZON ECHO SHOW 15 SPECS
|Screen Size||15 inches|
|Screen Resolution||1,920 by 1,080 pixels|
|Voice Control||Amazon Alexa|
The Echo Show 15 ($249.99) is Amazon’s largest and most distinctive smart display to date: It looks like a picture frame and hangs on the wall like one, and its widgets and face-detection features make it a handy information hub for every family member. However, the audio and video quality are dismal, the number of widgets is currently restricted, and both widgets and face detection will be rolled out to additional Echo Show devices. Unless you have an unique requirement for a smart display to mount on your wall, Amazon’s other Echo Shows may be more suitable. The $129.99 Echo Show 8, for example, is half the price of the Echo Show 15 and has better speakers. With a motorized base that allows its cameras to follow you around the room, the Echo Show 10 is the best option for video conversations at $249.99.
Designed for Mounting
The Echo Show 15 weighs 4 pounds, 4 ounces and is 9.9 by 15.8 by 1.4 inches (HWD). It has the appearance of a framed, matted work of art. For an elegant, minimalist aesthetic, a 15-inch screen with a 0.7-inch white border sits beneath a glass panel, surrounded by a 0.4-inch matte black metal bezel.
The only thing that breaks up the sleek look is a 5MP camera in the left corner of the white matte border. The camera’s left-hand frame edge features pinhole mics for hands-free Alexa operation, while the right-hand frame edge has a physical camera cover switch, as well as mic mute, volume down, and volume up buttons.
The back of the Echo Show 15 has a square-shaped groove and four screw holes for the provided mounting bracket. The power connector and a micro USB port for service are housed in a circular recess.
You may mount the Echo Show horizontally or vertically on your wall using the provided mounting bracket and hardware. You can’t put it on a table like most other smart displays because of its small depth. If you want a stand, you’ll have to buy an extra $29.99 for the Sanus Tilt Stand.
The stand was supplied to us for testing by Amazon. The Echo Show 15 is held firmly in landscape or portrait orientation by a simple, adequately strong stand with a rectangular matte black foot. The stand’s mounting arm contains a hinge that allows you to tilt it up to 30 degrees. It works fine, but putting the Echo Show 15 on a table negates its main selling point: its ability to be hung on a wall.
A Large Display, With Widgets
The Echo Show 15’s main feature is a 15-inch touch screen with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080-pixels. It’s a little smaller and less sharp than the 15.6-inch, 2,160-by-1,440 screen on the Facebook Portal+, but it’s still clear and crisp. We can’t compare it to TVs in terms of contrast and color, but it appears bright and vivid enough for a smart display. Expect nothing like the light or color output of a good 4K TV—just by looking at it, it doesn’t appear to strive to show a high dynamic range (HDR) or a wide color space.
The Echo Show’s new function, at-a-glance widgets that provide information and media access, is made possible by the huge screen. When you look at the Echo Show 15, you can organize many tile-based widgets in two rows to appear. Calendars, maps, reminders, shopping lists, smart home controls, sticky notes, and weather forecasts are among the 14 widgets now available. It’s a small but helpful assortment, albeit only a few exploit the touch screen to its full potential. While you may use the Amazon Prime Music widget to select a radio station or the smart home widget to control lights, most of them simply provide visual information.
There are presently no third-party widgets available, and even Amazon Prime Video is not included in the current choices. The Amazon Prime Music widget is similarly rigid; it allows you to listen to Amazon’s recommendations but not to your own tracks or playlists. You can only have one huge widget open at a time (covering two or three standard tiles), so you have to choose between your calendar, a map, or music recommendations. Even simple widgets that provide rapid access to programs and services like as Netflix or the web browser would be useful.
The Portal displays on Facebook have a lot more touch controls for immediate app and contact access, while the Echo Show widgets provide a lot more visual information. It’s a trade-off between the two systems, with Google’s Nest Hub series lagging behind on both counts. It’s also worth noting that, while the Echo Show 15 has the best screen real estate for displaying widgets, widgets are also being launched on other Echo Show devices, where they appear in a single row rather than two.
Each member of a household can create their own bespoke home screens with distinct widgets, and the Echo Show 15 will automatically load the appropriate profile as they approach. Aside from the Voice ID function found on other Echo devices, the Echo Show 15 adds face-detecting Visual ID, which allows the camera to detect and react to faces it recognizes.
Visual ID is straightforward to set up: the camera records each user’s face from various angles and connects that information to the appropriate profile. You can disable Visual ID and manually close the camera shutter using the switch on the side if you don’t want the Echo Show 15 to always keep an eye out for you. Visual ID isn’t specific to the Echo Show 15; in a future update, it will be added to the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10.
Alexa Stays Useful
On the Echo Show 15, you can use all of Alexa’s standard voice commands. Simply say “Alexa” and issue a command, and Alexa will carry out your request. Amazon’s voice assistant can check your schedule, launch apps, and deliver general information like weather forecasts. The Alexa platform is compatible with a wide range of smart home devices, and we like how it can pull up live video feeds from compatible home security cameras and video doorbells.
Alexa also has a lot of communication features. Drop In allows you to make voice or video calls to everyone in your family who has an Echo or Echo Show device or the Alexa app on their smartphone. You can make phone calls outside of Amazon’s platforms (to regular North American and UK phone numbers, but not premium or three-digit numbers such as emergency services); start Skype voice and video chats; and Zoom support will be added in early 2022.
Third-party skills can extend Alexa’s functionality even further. The majority of Alexa skills, on the other hand, are for Echo smart speakers rather than Echo Show smart screens, and only provide audio-based information and controls. Furthermore, unlike the apps on Portal devices, you can’t browse Alexa skills on the Echo Show 15 or arrange icons to access them by touch; instead, you must use your voice.
Not the Finest Digital camera or Audio
The camera on the Echo Show 15 is surprisingly inferior to that of the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10. It has a 5MP sensor and lacks the auto-framing capabilities of the other two smartphones’ 13MP cameras (and, of course, the motorized tracking of the Echo Show 10). With ideal lighting, you may get good video call and photo booth results, but it’s strange that Amazon skimped on the camera here.
The Echo Show 15 also has a lack of audio power, which is understandable given its compact form. It has two 1.6-inch drivers, which are smaller than the 2-inch drivers found in the Echo Show 8 (not to mention the 3-inch woofer and two 1-inch tweeters found in the Echo Show 10). Expect sound that is good for idle listening (despite its lack of bass punch), but not for totally immersing yourself in music or energizing a party.
The bass synth notes on the Show 15 sound hollow and distant on The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” while the kick drum beats pop with absolutely no force behind them. The drivers, thankfully, do not distort at maximum volume.
Tracks like Yes’ “Roundabout” sound better with less sub-bass. The acoustic guitar plucks in the opening portions have a lovely sense of string texture and robust resonance. The balance clearly favors the mid-highs and highs when the track fully kicks in, with the guitar strums, cymbals, and vocals all standing out. The bassline is present, but it lacks low-end presence, resulting in a pleasant, yet slightly bright, sound.
“Born Too Slow,” by The Crystal Method, exemplifies this. The harsh guitar chords take center stage, with the singers fading into the background. In the mix, the backbeat also sounds a little distant.
On the Wall, Echo, Echo
The Amazon Echo Show 15 is a large, beautiful smart display that can be mounted on the wall with ease. We enjoy its large screen and widgets, but the audio and camera performance are disappointing. The Echo Show 8 sounds far better, has crisper video quality, and is half the price if you have space on a counter, desk, or shelf. The Echo Show 10 offers even better audio and useful mechanical tracking for video conversations for the same price as the Echo Show 15. If you like Facebook’s services, the $199 Portal Go makes better use of its app-driven touch screen and supports a wider range of enterprise videoconferencing services. The unusual Echo Show 15 meets the bill if you’re seeking for a smart display you can mount like a piece of art.