Echo Show: first impressions

Echo Show: first impressions

Well, our

Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is here!

There’s no question that when you set it up, it’s a cool…thing. 🙂 I say that, because it isn’t really obvious what it is at first. It’s sort of like the first Kindle back in 2007, or I suppose a television set in 1948. It does something for sure, and it’s clear that something is futuristic and pretty unprecedented…but just how you’ll use it, and how it will fit into your life, is a bit of a mystery. You have no doubt that it will fit into it, even become important…but for now, the right reaction seems to be a half smile and bemusement.

Let’s back up a little, and talk about unboxing it and setting it up.

I had been very impressed when our Dash Wand arrived…the packaging was great! I was hoping for a repeat of that, but it take me some effort to get it out of the box. There was a slip cover that didn’t want to slip off (and I didn’t want to tear it), and several pieces of tape to remove. No big deal, but not the exemplary experience of the Wand.

Out of the box, it was simple. Just plug it in, and follow the instructions. It does have a touchscreen and as far as I could tell, I did have to use it…Alexa does most of her processing in the cloud, so I’m sure it needs to be connected before it can carry on a conversation. I did have to enter my wi-fi password: nowadays, Amazon devices generally already know mine, so I don’t have to do that…I think it may not have known who I was until we were into the set up, but then I feel like it should have been able to do my password. Oh, and it needed to update the software before it would work…that took maybe fifteen minutes.

It’s shape is kind of a wedge…not entirely unlike the original Kindle, but it makes sense for this to be able to stand up easily. Unfortunately, that does mean that when you turn on the video monitor, it may not show you someone sitting on the couch, for example, depending on where it is…you might see the above them instead.

The video display area is about the size of a 7″ tablet, like a Kindle Fire…then there are maybe four inches of non-display below that. The whole thing would be about the right size to be a trivet for a salad plate. It’s not very deep, but you couldn’t really hang it on a wall.

The screen quality looked great to me! The colors in the introductory video were nicely muted, but vibrant colors were clearly possible. The sound is good, and can get quite loud.

The screen has a background picture, and then rotates through useful information, like what is on my calendar and the weather, as well as some news.

It understood me pretty much like an original Echo. I did ask it to show me “otter videos” and it came up with “odd or videos”, which believe me, weren’t the same thing. 😉

The only “ad” I saw was a suggestion that I get Amazon’s unlimited music package, which I don’t want at this point.

When I asked it who an actor was, it did show me a picture of the actor. I asked for Brussels sprouts recipes, and it could show me a video. When selecting from choices, you can say a number.

I asked it to take a picture, and it did, and then uploaded it to Prime videos. There were several modes for that.

I did the “drop in” thing from the Alexa app on my phone to the Show in the same room. Unfortunately, that created quite a bit of feedback…and I had to say a few different things to get it to stop. Drop in is just a way to initiate a call (a videocall, in this case), and have no action necessary on the other end for it to start. I could have stopped the video, if I wanted to do that. However, if I want to see our dogs during the day (and if I can get it to show them how low they will be), that would work well.

It could control our lights, shows us the weather, and so on, just like our Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap.

I’ve been trying it for about an hour or so, and my first impression? Clearly, it’s going to be important. It’s also going to get a lot better than it is now, but it’s already a good thing. It’s a bit like being told you have a super power, but not knowing how to use it. 😉

I’ll work with it more tomorrow, so I’ll have more to say. In the mean time, here’s the

Amazon Echo Show help pages (at AmazonSmile*)

This is what’s there:


Let me and my readers know if you have specific questions, or tips and tricks (or just thoughts) you want to share by commenting on this post.

Important update: I’ve add a new

Things to do and things to know about the Amazon Echo Show page

and yes, that’s intended to be a little rhyme. 😉

I’m just going to throw factoids in there, and encourage you to comment on it with things you would suggest should be added (and once I’ve approved them, they can be seen as comments whether or not I add them to the page. I will review them, because I do get spam comments on this blog). I’ve barely started it, but my guess is that I’ll have more than 100 in there before the end of the weekend. Probably most useful when searched, however you are able to search a webpage on your device.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 


6 Responses to “Echo Show: first impressions”

  1. alan church Says:

    I wonder about your first impressions. The reviewer at the Times and cnet are underwhelmed. I sometimes wonder if your love of amazon tends the color your view of their products and practices. I hope you are right. After reading the Times review I was almost ready to send the two I ordered back. But I’ll give them a chance. Maybe you could comment on the Times review. That’s New York, of course.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, alan!

      That’s interesting! I thought I might get pushback because I was too negative…that there would be people who loved it, and wanted me to be more effusive.

      I’ll read the reviews, but haven’t had a chance yet. For one thing, we had to call the police to come to our house last night due to my Significant Other finding quite an odd item on our property, so we called them to let them take it and assess.

      I’ll say something generally about my first (and even later) impressions, compared to others.

      What I find is that many people are reviewing the tech. While I know tech reasonably well (I’m basically a tech trainer in my day job, although I do other things, too, like performance improvement and time management), I’m more interested in the impact of individuals’ lives and on the culture. I think, in some ways, I tend to be more right about the acceptance of hardware/features, for that reason. I have been wrong, for sure, but I think most tech bloggers (and tech writers in mainstream publications, like the NYT) are approaching it like engineers…not like sociologists. Technically, of course, I’m neither. 🙂 I guess I’m sort of more of a consumerist, but there’s a blog with that name which I find exceedingly negative for my tastes, so I wouldn’t use that term for me (and they’ve clearly staked a claim to it). That’s not really what I do, either…it’s not about, “Is this a good buy?” but about whether or not people will like it, and how they can get more out of it.

      In life, though, I’m an unfailing optimist…I like to say, “I have a genetic abnormality: I’m an optimist”. 🙂 There is supposed to be a significant genetic element to optimism, which is why I say it.

      My guess is that most people who waited to get a Show until this holiday season, or maybe even a year from now, would adopt it more easily. I don’t think they need to wait for another hardware version…although I’d love to be able to tilt the camera independently of the display.

  2. Phink Says:

    This sounds great. I had ordered two but canceled and decided to invest the money instead because I clearly did not need it. I do plan on buying one someday however.

    You mentioned the drop in. I probably need to call customer service but the drop in will not activate on any of my phones or tablets. I have Galaxy brands. The conversation bubble is simply missing. At the bottom of the screen is a house on the left, three vertical bars on the right, and supposed to be a conversation bubble in the middle. That is missing on not only my devices but my wife’s as well who uses a different style phone but same account. I do have the latest app version. I’ve checked. Like I said, I need to call Amazon I guess. Also, yes I have tried to activate this feature but it says to go to the app and click the conversation bubble and follow the instructions. I have no button to push.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I have the drop-in on my Galaxy S7. My first guess about the lack of the conversation bubble is that you don’t have any contacts that have activated Alexa calling. I only have two.

      As to drop-in which shouldn’t require contacts, you do need to activate that first on each device under settings. Also, these are the compatible device types, but I doubt that’s your issue:

      Compatible Devices
      Echo Dot (1st Generation)
      Echo Dot (2nd Generation)
      Echo Show
      Alexa app (only for starting Drop In)

      Oh, and what’s your app version, just to be sure?

  3. Phink Says:

    Client version: 1.24.2221.0
    Bridge version:

  4. How the Echo Show kept our family together at a wedding | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Echo Show: first impressions […]

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