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Want Alexa's smarts inside a smart display? We've tested every Echo Show
So you’ve decided to invite Amazon’s smart assistant into your home? How hospitable. And if you’d like Alexa’s smarts inside a smart display, this is the list you need: we’ve tested every Echo Show in Amazon’s line-up, to help you pick your perfect smart home device.
If you’d prefer an Echo that’s audio-only, be sure to check out our list of the best Amazon Echo speakers. But if you’re after touch controls, video calls and visual entertainment, it’s an Echo Show you need. And with three styles and four sizes to choose from, you might need some assistance to make your pick.
From screen resolution to camera quality, the buying guide below sets out everything you need to know about each smart display in Amazon’s line-up. Whether you want an AI sous chef for the kitchen counter or a home hub to keep the family from falling apart, there’s an Echo Show for you. And this list will help you find it.
If you’re not tied to Amazon, then you should check out Stuff’s guide to the best smart displays, with options from Google, Amazon and more.
The new Amazon Echo Show 5 is the model’s third iteration, landing with a fresher, more rounded design. Its audio chops have also been upgraded, with, according to Amazon, twice the bass on offer.
For the rare users who use their devices for video calling, there’s still only a 2MP camera on offer (we would have liked to see at least 8MP for a less grainy experience), and it also won’t swivel around and follow you around the room, a la the Echo Show 8 and 10.
Still, it’s cheaper than both of its Show 8 and Show 10 siblings, and it packs the extra processing power of Amazon’s AZ2 Neural Edge processor. There’s also an optional adjustable Echo Show 5 stand with a USB-C charging port, along with a new Echo Show 5 Kids version which includes the same hardware, with a snazzy space-themed galaxy design. Oh, and all the kid-friendly content filtering you’d expect.
Small but smartly formed, an improved webcam, big sound and slick interface make Amazon’s middle child a very tempting proposition
Amazon’s medium Echo Show is the Goldilocks option: just right for most people. At 8in, its display is big enough for browsing, binge-watching and bossing Alexa around, yet the Show’s free-standing form is still small enough not to dwarf your countertop. A pair of 2in speaker drivers deliver audio that’s fine for casual kitchen listening, even if the 1280×800 screen resolution isn’t the sharpest.
Aping the Facebook Portal, the upgraded 13MP camera can track your face around the frame – so callers will always get a good look at your mug, even if you’re pacing the place. Anyone with an Echo device or the Alexa app can hop on a group call, while the cam can also be used to keep an eye on your abode when you’re out and about.
Alexa’s on-board, of course, as well as all the smart home controls and life admin tools you’d expect from an Amazon hub. New Visual ID smarts can also be trained to recognise your face and display personalised content. Don’t like looking down on your smart display? An optional magnetic stand makes it easy to tilt and tweak the viewing angle.
With a price as big as its footprint and frame, the Echo Show 10 is a spinning winner for those who like to walk and talk
A hybrid home upgrade, the third-gen Echo Show 10 is essentially two devices in one: a punchy Echo speaker with a 10.1in tablet attached. And it’s no static display: like a true automaton, it can rotate to face you, courtesy of a brushless motor inside.
Calling your loved ones? Feel free to walk around the room, because the Echo Show 10 uses auto-framing to keep your face front and centre – not just by digitally panning with the 13MP camera, but also by physically rotating the touchscreen panel through a 175-degree arc.
That tracking tech makes it trickier to place than a wedge-shaped Show, but there are other positives. Besides the smart home skills seen on every Echo Show, the 10 also functions as a Zigbee hub – meaning you can connect compatible devices directly. And while its screen isn’t the sharpest (the resolution is still 1200×800), beefier speakers mean it’s better for starting the party: inside the fabric-wrapped base are two 2in tweeters and a 3in woofer for extra whump-whump while you’re cooking.
A wall-hogging wonder with widgets aplenty, Amazon’s largest Echo Show is an expansive smart home hub – even if audio and camera quality fall slightly flat
Unlike any Amazon device that’s gone before, the newest, biggest Echo Show transforms the format. With a picture-frame aesthetic, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Facebook Portal. But while the boxy Echo Show 15 can prop itself on surfaces with a sold-separately stand, its true purpose is realised when you mount it on the wall.
Oriented in portrait or landscape (you can switch after installation), it becomes a family whiteboard fit for 2021. Its 15.6in Full HD display is home to Alexa-powered widgets which try to keep your life in order. From sticky notes to shopping lists to schedules, the Echo Show 15 is a genuine hub for your household. And while its 5MP camera isn’t the sharpest in the Echo Show line-up, it still benefits from face recognition (backed up by voice ID), so family members will see reminders relevant to them.
It also supports meaningful multi-tasking. That means you can view feeds from connected cameras, for example, while streaming a Netflix show or reviewing a recommended recipe. Its pair of 1.6in speaker drivers won’t match the audio power of the Echo Show 10, but this smart panel is much easier to hide – especially if you use the Photo Frame feature to display your favourite snaps from Facebook or Amazon Photos. It’s just a shame about the wire that dangles down below.
Formerly News Editor at this fine institution, Chris now writes about tech from his tropical office. Sidetracked by sustainable stuff, he’s also keen on coffee kit, classic cars and any gear that gets better with age.
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