Note: The Echo Show has not been released as of the time of this article. I have not been hands on with one yet. These are my first impressions of the product based on its features and description.
Generally speaking, I’m a pessimist. I’d say it’s in my nature, but since I’ve spent 95% of my life living in New York, I think this falls under nurture. Months ago, when Amazon leaked news that they were working on a touch screen Echo, I was confused about the level of excitement I was seeing from Echo fans. Now that the Echo Show has been announced and is available for pre-order, I’m still not sure it needs to exist.
The Amazon Echo was revolutionary because it is an always on voice assistant that works from afar. As long as you are within “earshot,” Alexa does a fantastic job of understanding your request and responding as best it can. People love this because you don’t have to be standing in front of the device to operate it. Conversely, a touch screen can only be operated when within reach of said device. So it vexes me that there was enough customer support to add a touch screen to the Amazon Echo that the Echo Show needed to exist.
That said, I think there are some amazing possibilities for the Echo Show. I love the idea of using it to make video calls, and I kind of like the idea of being able to just pop in to one unannounced like you’re a painting in Harry Potter. The integrations with baby monitors and video doorbells out of the box make perfect sense. There have also been plenty of times where I’ve wished Alexa could show, rather than tell me what I asked (shopping can be a tedious experience). And I think this will lend itself well to some of the awesome games that have been released, like The Wayne Investigation or The Magic Door, as it would allow them to show your choices or a map on screen while you play.
The Nucleus…I’m sorry…did I say Nucleus? I totally meant to say Echo Show, but since this product already existed but was made by a third party I got confused for a minute there! That’s right folks, for $80 less than Echo Show, you can own a Nucleus today and get about 80% of the features, plus some that won’t be available with Echo Show at launch. Nucleus has been available for about a year and has some rave reviews from customers. At this point, though, I worry about the future of their company.
I don’t want to sound too down on the product, though. There are some really great possibilities for the Echo Show. And with the ability to stream video, it can also fill the role of a kitchen TV, depending on how much video Amazon lets you stream. If it’s solely limited to streaming Amazon content, it will be less useful. But since this seems to be a purpose built version of the Fire HD, I would expect it to allow you to install apps such as your cable company’s streaming app, Netflix, Hulu, etc. If not, I think Amazon will be missing an opportunity with it.
Only time will tell how the Echo Show will do in the market. There is a lot of opportunity for the product, but I don’t think video chat is enough to sell people on the product when they can already do that easily (and for free) on their phones, computers, laptops, TV’s, and more. Hopefully I can get my hands on one soon to see how it functions in real life.