Amazon gives voice-enabled speaker a screen, video calling

Posted May 16, 2017

Over the past few days, leaks had been indicating that Amazon is working on a new Echo device.

Amazon is taking pre-orders for Echo Show now for US$229.99 with a ship date of June 28.

The Echo Show is basically a chunky tablet with a large speaker grille below its 7-inch display. The e-commerce giant is also discounting its original Echo Smart Speaker.

As per usual with most Echo devices, you can also use it to control various features of your home, like the thermostat, lights, and other compatible smart home devices such as WeMo, Philips Hue, and ecobee.

Furthermore, Amazon Music provides lyrics on-screen as users just have to ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi.

Alexa's voice calling feature seems to be pretty straight forward: you ask Alexa to call someone in your contacts and it does! The inclusion of a camera lets users make a video, by simply yelling at Alexa - a convenient feature for the non-tech-savvy, and perhaps the selling point of the device. That was how Amazon snuck its Alexa voice assistant into the home - by piggybacking on the popularity of low-priced Bluetooth speakers. The research firm eMarketer expects usage of such speakers to more than double this year, with almost 36 million Americans using such a device at least once a month by year's end. Research firm eMarketer has just published a study saying a 70.6 percent USA market share for Alexa-powered smart hubs, compared to just 23.8 percent for Google Home. Amazon explains that the feature is for special cases. Each of those companies already offers popular voice and video calling services: Facetime, Hangouts, and Skype, respectively. As with other Echo products, users can initiate all this with voice commands. (It is now on sale for $150).

It's quite similar to the normal Echo smart speaker.

Last month, Amazon introduced Echo Look, a slimmer version of its Echo device, for fashion lovers. It's available by invitation only for $200.