Amazon officially announced the Echo Show ($230), the newest member of its Alexa-enabled family. The Echo Show will handle all the same tasks as a regular Amazon Echo, but, with its seven-inch touchscreen, the new device can show you things.
You’ll be able to watch YouTube videos and flash briefings from CNN and other sources, view photos from Prime Photos and instantly view any connected smart security camera. When playing Amazon Music, song lyrics will appear on the screen. (No word on whether the speaker will work the same way with other services, like Pandora or Spotify.) Another unique feature is messaging and video calling: You’ll be able to make video calls or send messages to anybody who has an Echo Show or the Alexa app on their smartphone, using the device’s 5MP front-facing camera. But, presumably, you won’t be able to make these video calls with Skype or FaceTime.
At its heart, the Echo Show is still a speaker. Unlike the original Echo, the Echo Show isn’t cylindrical and won’t pump out 360-degree sound. It’s probably best stationed against a wall, not in the center of the room. But it’s still powerful; Amazon says it’s equipped with Dolby processing “for crisp vocals and extended bass response.” The Echo Show will also have eight microphones, up from the Echo’s seven, for superior listening.
The Echo Show is available now for preorder and will start shipping on June 28. For the time being, you can buy two for $360 — so go in with a friend if you want to get in on those video calls. If $230 is too much for you, or you just don’t need another screen to look at, the Amazon Echo is available for just $150.