Amazon Echo Show (2nd Generation)

Amazon is upping its game in 2018. To see an example of it, you need look no further than the 2nd Generation Amazon Echo Show which was unveiled alongside the next Amazon Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Alexa Microwave and Alexa Wall Clock.

The 2nd Gen Echo Show is, very obviously, an evolution of the Amazon Echo Show – the first device Amazon introduced that brought Alexa to a touchscreen … which, at the time, was limited in its resolution. 

That said, the 2nd Generation Echo Show will feature a full 10-inch, 1080p screen and an upgraded audio system that includes two side-firing speakers and one passive radiator. This will help the speaker sound better and more immersive than before … even if it’s not quite at Apple HomePod levels of performance just yet.

Price and availability

The Amazon Echo Show 2nd Gen will be available starting in October and will run you $229 / £219, the same price as the original when it launched in 2016. 

While the new Show shares the same launch price of the original, however, the latter's current price usually floats around $130 – something to keep in mind when we talk about the improvements and, sometimes, lack thereof. 

Design

While comparable in actual specs, the design of the second-generation Echo Show is vastly different than the original model that graced our kitchen shelves two short years ago. The new Show, which measures 9.7 x 6.9 x 4.2 inches (246 mm x 174 mm x 107 mm), removes the front-firing speaker grille from the previous version and instead features a 10-inch, Full HD display. 

The speakers, now located along the back of the unit, are much improved thanks to their dual 2-inch neodymium drivers and passive bass radiator. The speaker will use Dolby processing to deliver expansive stereo sound and more powerful bass than the 1st Generation model – all of which makes the Show a potentially prominent streaming machine.

The Echo Show will be available in two colors, Charcoal (Black) and Sandstone (White), both of which should be able to blend into the decor of your kitchen like a chameleon. 

Near the top of the front face you’ll notice four holes for the microphone array. Add the four along the top of the unit (for a total of eight mics altogether) – as well as Amazon’s updated listening algorithm – and you have a competent kitchen companion. 

While it’s not a design tweak, you can expect to see the front-facing 5MP camera make its return on the 2nd Gen. Amazon Echo Show. It would’ve been nice to get a slight bump up in resolution here for calling clarity – 5MP is nothing to sneeze at. 

Features and performance

Design, of course, is just one piece of the puzzle. Thankfully, the Amazon Echo Show doesn’t just look better aesthetically, it looks better with content on the screen, too. 

That’s due to the higher resolution on this model – 1080p now versus the 1024x600 resolution on the original. This higher pixel density screen makes images look exceptionally crisp. Its small stature means that it won’t be our first choice over our 4K 65-inch TV, but for the occasional music video or TV show in the kitchen, it does the trick. 

Audio, while improved, is a bit harder to quantify. Amazon has added dual 2-inch neodymium drivers to the back of the unit and a passive radiator, which is a far cry from the 10-watt drivers placed on the front of the previous unit. That being said, while it’s a significant upgrade that helps give the Echo Show an advantage over, say, the Lenovo Smart Display, it’s not in the same league as systems like the Apple HomePod or Sonos One.

Where the Echo beats out the HomePod, however, is with its video-enabled smart assistant, Alexa. New and improved for this year, Alexa will soon be able to deliver step-by-step cooking instructions that can be controlled via your voice alongside two full-on web browsers in the form of Silk and Firefox. That’s on top of Alexa’s 10,000 item deep Skills library that improves upon itself week after week. 

For smart home buffs, Amazon is integrating a Zigbee hub into the Show that will allow the device to discover and setup nearby smart devices hassle-free and a new two-way talk feature that will be compatible with Ring and August doorbell cameras – a neat feature for those on the bleeding edge of the smart home revolution.

Early verdict

The new 2nd Gen, 10-inch, 1080p Amazon Echo Show makes the old the 7-inch original Amazon Echo Show look absolutely ancient. The improvements Amazon has made could be a game-changer for those of us who spend more time in the kitchen than we’d like to admit, enhancing two key areas over the original Show.

That said, the 2nd Gen Show’s biggest problems are things Amazon didn’t fix. The 5MP camera is still stuck at 5MP, for example. And while the better visuals and audio quality might entice you to buy a new unit, the updates to Alexa will be available on the original Echo Show – a device that can often be had for $129 (£199). 

If you’re looking for a solid kitchen companion – one that will give your audiovisual experience in the kitchen a solid upgrade – the 2nd Gen Echo Show could be the ticket. But if you’re worried about what might come next from companies like JBL, LG, Google and Apple, you might want to hold onto your original Show just a little longer. 



from TechRadar - Technology Reviews http://www.techradar.com/reviews/amazon-echo-show-2nd-generation