Amazon’s New Echo Show 15 Enlarges Alexa’s Place at Home Literally and Figuratively
Amazon introduced the new Echos Show 15 smart display this week, potentially redefining the concept of a smart display. The rapid-fire rollout of devices covered a lot of ground, but a 15.6-inch touchscreen that can be mounted on the centers Alexa and Amazon’s overall smart home ecosystem in a way that goes beyond previous iterations and arguably bridges the gap between smart displays and smart TVs, a line Amazon has steadily been erasing for a while.
Echo Show Off
Amazon pitched the screen as a hub for schedule management, family communication, and smart home device control, among other features. In fact, the Echo Show 15 is the impetus for many of the changes announced for Alexa, including the customizable home screen and Alexa widgets, as seen above. The rotating content can include whatever widgets the user wants, and Alexa updates the information on them as a household adds and edits the information. The device also includes the new visual ID feature enabling Alexa to recognize individual household members and display their personal events, reminders, and other updates accordingly. All of the features can be controlled by voice with Alexa or managed by tapping on the touchscreen.
“Today, families juggle multiple competing priorities—what time to drop the kids off at soccer practice, what to make for dinner, or when to schedule the next appointment—the list goes on and on. With Echo Show 15, Alexa can help,” Amazon Alexa senior vice president Tom Taylor said. “With a redesigned home screen and Alexa widgets, you can customize Echo Show 15 to see your shared family calendar, manage to-do lists and reminders, find meal inspiration, and keep track of your incoming packages.”
TV or Display?
The sheer size and clarity of the Echo Show 15’s screen make it stand out from its predecessors. The 1080p Full HD screen can stream Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu, with Sling TV expected to be included soon. Mounting the smart display on the wall only reinforces the idea of it as a kind of small smart TV with a touchscreen. Meanwhile, the recently announced ‘Amazon-built‘ smart TV is more like a smart display than ever, with Alexa able to respond when the TV is off and to offer smart home device control and content recommendations. The Fire TV and Echo Show are coming closer together with every generation, just from opposite directions.
“Echo Show 15 brings everything that makes your household tick into one place,” Taylor said. “Plus, Echo Show 15 can adapt to your home environment with full-screen photos or art, so it’s always there when you need it, but fades beautifully into the background when you don’t.”
Amazon installed the new Amazon AZ2 Neural Edge processor into the device to power all of these features. The new chip is powerful enough not only to run both speech and visual recognition at the same time but to keep the whole process on the device if the user chooses, without the need to send data to the cloud. That can speed up Alexa’s response time and is a boon for those concerned about privacy as Alexa deletes audio commands processed on the device immediately afterward. The Echo Show 15 is priced at $250, but Amazon hasn’t shared when it will be available for pre-order or when it will ship.