Chances are you’ve heard of or own an Amazon Echo. The Echo is the flagship product of Amazon’s smart home line that includes several products controlled by Amazon Alexa, the company’s voice assistant.
Whether you own an Echo and are considering an upgrade, or are considering buying your first Amazon device, it’s time to consider the Echo Show. The device is an updated Echo with a screen and camera so that you can interact with your voice while also viewing images and videos.
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We will provide an introduction to the Echo Show and help you decide if it’s the right product for your home.
What does the Amazon Echo Show look like?
If you’re familiar with the Echo or Echo Dot, you’ll know these Amazon devices are speakers with an always-on microphone. The biggest difference between Echo and Echo Show is a screen. Each option in the Echo Show line features a touchscreen and front camera.
The Echo Show also features front-facing speakers and an array of microphones for hearing your voice across the room, even with background noise.
There are three different Echo Show sizes to choose from with a 5-inch, 8-inch and 10.1-inch screen
Is the Echo Show’s camera always on?
Just like the Echo, the Echo Show’s microphone is always listening. But there’s no need to worry about the built-in camera. While the camera is on by default, it is not looking at anything.
The microphone is monitoring the wake word, Alexa, before taking action. Once you hear that word, the Echo Show begins recording data that will be saved on Amazon’s servers and archived to enhance your user experience.
If you’re worried about the Echo Show camera, it’s easy to disable it in the on-screen settings. You can also turn off the microphone if you wish, but you won’t be able to interact with Alexa.
Related: You can now tell Alexa to delete your voice recordings
What is the Echo Show’s drop in capacity?
The Echo Show has a special feature that takes advantage of the camera: Drop In.
Drop In allows you to grant permission for other Echo Show users to “enter” the screen via video chat – you don’t even have to accept their video call. With Drop In, you can simply pop up on screen for a haphazard greeting.
The feature works particularly well under certain circumstances. Some great examples are if you want to monitor your parents or grandparents without asking them to answer the phone, or if you are a parent who wants to monitor your children working on homework in their rooms.
It is also useful for long distance best friends or romantic partners.
When someone walks into your Echo Show, you will hear a beep indicating that a call is coming. The audio connection is instant, but the video connection takes a bit of a delay to offer a little more privacy. You can also say “Alexa, hang up” to drop the call if you’re not ready.
To access the video, you and your chosen contacts will need to own the Echo Show or have the Alexa app for Android or iOS . You can enable Audio-Only Drop In with anyone with an Echo or Echo Dot.
Can you video chat with other services?
In some countries, you can add your favorite video conferencing platforms to your Echo Show and make calls from your device.
Skype: First, sync your Skype account in your Amazon Alexa app. Go to the Alexa app, then tap Settings> Communication> Skype to link your accounts. Once synced, you can say “Alexa, call Dad on Skype” or “Alexa, answer this Skype call” to start or accept video conversations.
Zoom: First, sync your calendar in your Alexa app by opening the app and then going to Settings> Calendar & Email> Link Account. After the calendar syncs, you will be able to say “Alexa, join my Zoom meeting” and join the meeting scheduled at that time.
Bonus: In addition to video chat, you can call mobile and landline phones using your Echo Show (or any Echo device) using Alexa Calling, a free service in the US, Canada, Mexico and the UK With Alexa Calling, phone calls are made automatically through your internet provider, not your phone service.
Just say “Alexa, call 215-867-5309” or “Alexa, call mom” if you’ve synced your contacts via your Alexa app. Note that Alexa cannot call emergency services, premium numbers, or other international numbers.
Can you watch TV shows or movies on the Echo Show?
A big advantage of the Echo Show is that you can watch videos on its screen. However, you can only watch videos streamed from Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or YouTube. Other streaming services are not currently supported.
Related: How to Play YouTube Videos on Your Amazon Echo
What else does the Echo Show do?
Set up a digital photo frame: If you add photos to the Amazon Photos service, you can have them play as a slideshow on your Echo Show.
Listen to Music: The Echo Show connects to your Prime Music account, as well as other popular options including Apple Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Sirius XM via third-party apps.
Connect with Other Smart Home Gadgets: Connect your Echo Show to other smart home devices, especially security cameras and connected doorbells, to see who is on your property or near you.
Integrate third-party expertise: visit marketplace of Alexa Skills to find thousands of skills that add value to your Echo Show. Some skills will have a video component specific to the Echo Show, while some skills will be audio only.
Is the Amazon Echo Show right for you?
If you’re a student and a visual communicator, the Echo Show will make your daily tech interactions richer and more useful than an audio-only device.
Especially if you have young children, distant family, or elderly relatives, the Echo Show’s video capabilities will add significant value and are more likely to make memories happen virtually than any other type of device. With Amazon’s frequent discounts, you can get an Echo Show way below full price – almost the same price as a regular Echo.
But if you’re particularly concerned about privacy, you probably won’t love the Echo Show’s camera and Drop In feature. With these features turned off, the value of the device is greatly reduced. If privacy is your primary concern, it might make more sense to buy a different Amazon product.