GADGETS

Amazon Echo Show 15 review: A big device for a small audience


Amazon’s Echo Show line has been around for four years, but so far screen sizes have ranged from five to 10 inches, perfect as a multi-purpose bedside alarm or companion screen in the kitchen. Available now, the 15-inch Echo Show is the biggest size Amazon has tried, and it’s also the first Echo Show you can mount on your wall. For this reason, the company is betting that some people will use it not only as a digital photo frame, but also as a family bulletin board. If that’s exactly what you want from a smart screen, the Echo Show 15 may be a good fit but a very good fit. Somehow, though, we suspect that’s not most people.

Gallery: Amazon Echo Show 15 review | 25 photos


framed like a painting

The Echo Show 15 appears to belong to a gallery. Its 15.6-inch screen is surrounded by a 0.7-inch white bezel (similar to mats around a panel), which is housed in a sleek black metal frame. It’s also very thin at just 1.4 inches thick. If you told me this was a picture frame, I would probably believe you from afar. The only clue is the camera located in the upper left corner. You can hide it with a physical shutter using a toggle switch on the top edge of the bezel, where you’ll also find the volume controls and a microphone mute button.

Positives

  • Beautiful photo frame design
  • Big and bright screen
  • Useful widgets

Negatives

  • Average camera and sound quality
  • Desktop stand sold separately
  • Limited tool library

Since the Show 15 is designed to be hung on the wall, it comes with a mounting bracket along with the necessary hardware. (You’ll have to provide your own electric drill, of course.) Amazon provides only a five-foot electrical cord, though, so you’ll need to mount the device reasonably close to an electrical outlet. Alternatively, you can also route the wire through the wall as you would a TV, but this is a more complicated setup.

Amazon

You can choose to mount the Show 15 horizontally or vertically, but you cannot rotate it while it is still on the wall. You’ll have to take it off, flip the stand over, and then turn the screen back on. The same goes for the desktop stand; You will have to choose your preferred direction before placing width 15 on it.

I didn’t want to dig into the walls (especially not accommodating a device I’m borrowing just for this story), so I opted to use the Sanus Tilt Stand that Amazon sent in for review. It’s fairly bulky and bulky, and takes up a lot of space on my kitchen counter. As its name suggests, the stand allows you to tilt the display up to 30 degrees for better viewing angles. It’s a convenient alternative to hanging on the wall, but if I were to get an Alexa-enabled desktop monitor I’d probably choose one of the other Echo offerings because it’s smaller in size.

However, the 15.6-inch screen here is the best of all the Echo’s offering, with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. The screen is so bright and sharp that I can see it clearly across the room (about nine feet away). When it displays photos and images in full screen, the frame really looks like a piece of art. It reminds me of the Lenovo Smart Frame we saw at CES 2020, and even Samsung’s The Frame TV, but they’re a lot bigger – the Lenovo Smart Frame has a 21.5-inch screen while the Frame TV lineup ranges from 32 to 32 inches. 85 inches. In addition, the Smart Frame displays only images, while The Frame TV is a TV that displays art, both of which lack Amazon’s Smart View capabilities.

Amazon Echo Show 15

Engadget

Speaking of this genre, one of the main advantages of the big screen is Amazon’s newest Echo Show feature: the gadgets. Aside from the standard set of rotating home screen content like headlines and weather updates, part of the screen can now be customized with tiles. Options include a calendar, shopping list, sticky notes, to-do lists, weather forecast, maps, and an Amazon package delivery tracker. There’s also a What to Eat widget featuring recipe recommendations, restaurant delivery options, and Blue Apron meal group suggestions.

This widget feature will be rolling out to all Echo Shows eventually, but only the Echo Show 15 will appear consistently on the Home screen. You can add as many widgets as you like, although the Echo Show 15 will only display up to six at a time, depending on the size of the tiles. It also pushes the ones you use the most to the front, and you can rearrange them to your liking.

I found the tools useful to see all my information in a jiffy. I made great use of the Smart Home Preferences tool, which allows me to view my security camera feeds and control my smart lights with a single click. I also liked the photo-in-picture live cam view, which allowed me to see who’s standing at the front door while watching a video.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many third-party tools right now – only 14 at the moment. The company said it has created an API for developers to build their own tools, but it’s unclear if more will be coming soon. I’d like to see a Spotify widget as well as an Amazon Music widget, for example. Browser shortcuts to make it easier to access your favorite websites may also be useful.

Optical facial recognition

Echo Show 15

Engadget

Another feature that debuted on the Echo Show 15 is Visual ID, which is similar to Face Match on the Google Nest Hub Max. It’s face recognition that shows you personalized information and widgets, such as your day’s appointments or your to-do list. Anytime I showed up, the Echo Show 15 offered compliments like “Good morning, Nicole.” He’s smart enough to distinguish me from my husband, whom you also know well. The visual ID also allows you to send messages; When my husband asked Alexa to “leave a note to Nicole saying ‘I love you’,” I saw it appear on screen later that day.

This feature won’t be unique to the Echo Show 15 for long; Amazon says the second-generation Echo Show 8 and third-generation Echo Show 10 will also receive a Visual ID through a future update. As for privacy concerns, the company says that data for both the Visual ID and Voice ID (which is already present on all other Echo devices) is stored on the device, with nothing going to the cloud. But if you still feel uncomfortable, you can simply disable these two features completely. Plus, you can view and delete your voice recordings on the Alexa app, if it makes you feel better.

Camera quality is disappointing

Amazon Echo Show 15

Engadget

Plenty of other features on the Echo Show 15 are on par with what Amazon offers across the rest of the smart show line, including the ability to set timers, stream music, control Alexa-compatible smart home devices, and make video calls. Additionally, it has plenty of video streaming options including Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and even less obvious services like TikTok and Sling TV. However, YouTube is only accessible via a browser, and does not support Show 15 Disney+ or HBO Max (provided by Google’s Nest Hub).

While Amazon supports video calling via Skype, the Alexa app, or anyone with an Echo device (Zoom support is coming in 2022), the Echo Show 15 inexplicably uses a secondary camera that’s not quite as accurate as the 13MP sensors on the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10. Plus, Show 15 doesn’t offer Amazon’s auto-framing feature that keeps you centered in the scene.

Since the Echo Show 15 is quite thin, I’m not surprised the sound quality is as mediocre as it gets. It was fine for the occasional chill playlist, but hardly any bass, so I definitely wouldn’t use this to entertain guests.

The competition

Amazon Echo Show 15

Engadget

There’s nothing quite like the Echo Show 15 in terms of size. The closest is the Facebook Portal+, which also measures 15.6 inches. But the Portal+ cannot be wall mounted and lacks many of the Echo Show’s apps and features. It also costs $50 more. However, Portal+ has a nicer camera with excellent video chat features, so it’s better for calls.

The closest competitors to the Echo Show 15 are its siblings, the Echo Show 8 and Show 10. They all have the same features, except, again, for wall-mountability. And yes, its larger screen is a better fit for on-screen widgets. That’s about the only real advantage, though, as the visual ID and UI elements will be coming to smaller Echo offerings as well. Show 8 and Show 10 offer significantly better audio and sound quality. Sure, you’ll have to scroll to see the tools, but that’s not a huge drawback. The Show 8 is also cheaper at $130 (the Show 10 is closer at $250).

is contained

Amazon Echo Show 15

Engadget

The main advantage of the Echo Show 15 is that it can be wall-mounted, and frankly, that’s the only reason to get it. Yes, the screen is nice and offers a nice digital photo frame, but the rest of its features aren’t any better than the smaller Echo’s offering. Plus, its camera is somehow worse than that found on smaller Echo Show devices. Unless you’re really committed to the idea of ​​a smart screen on your wall, you’d be better off using one of Amazon’s other Echo offerings.

All products recommended by Engadget are handpicked by our editorial team, independently of the parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



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