Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Big Screen, Bigger Utility
Echo show 15
MSRP $ 250.00
“Its strong resemblance to a photo frame suggests the promise of the ideal smart home: a living space filled with normal and expected items that serve more than one purpose.
Large 15.6 inch display
Widget functionality makes it easy to see tasks, smart home and more at a glance
Different orientation options
Exchange of visual identifiers between users
Lack of personalization and customization options
Software crashes without explanation
Amazon’s original Echo Show model looked more like the dreamy CRTs of the late ’90s than a smart display, but the product has improved and evolved over time until its iteration. the most recent. The Echo Show 15, a large, crystal-clear screen that looks like a digital photo frame. At 15 inches diagonally with a flat back, it looks perfectly at home mounted on a wall like a truly functional piece of art.
Its strong resemblance to a photo frame suggests the promise of the ideal smart home: a living space filled with normal and expected objects that serve multiple purposes. I used the Echo Show 15 for just over a week and found myself relying on it for a lot of different tasks – more than I’ve ever used a smart display in the past.
Enough screen real estate to properly watch Casablanca
The obvious feature of the Echo Show 15 is its screen. It’s really huge, which is a huge improvement over the five and even eight inch versions. At 15.6 inches in diameter with a 1080p screen, all content is displayed clearly. So it’s no surprise that Amazon has put a lot of work into the video options for the Echo Show 15.
You can watch Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu on the device. You can also watch YouTube through the built-in Amazon Silk web browser. An on-screen keyboard makes it easy to quickly search for content; of course, you can also just ask Alexa to play the video you are looking for.
With such a large screen, the Echo Show 15 seems like the perfect addition to a desktop, especially for video conferencing, except it doesn’t work with Zoom. Amazon says Zoom compatibility will arrive in the next few months and will use the 5-megapixel camera located in the upper right corner of the Echo Show 15.
The beauty of widgets
Besides streaming all your favorite shows, the other benefit of such a big screen is the widget functionality. The Echo Show 15 features various widgets that give quick access to your favorite Alexa features. You can access it by swiping down from the top of the screen and tapping on “widget gallery” or simply asking Alexa to open the gallery.
You have the choice between several options:
- Alexa suggestions
- Calendar and reminders (daily and monthly)
- Favorite photos
- Music and audio
- Reorganization suggestions
- Shopping list
- Smart home favorites
- Sticky notes
- The daily show
- To do list
- What to eat
- Your deliveries
It is thanks to these widgets that I spent so much time with the Echo Show 15. You can divide the screen into different segments for your widgets. At first, I had thought about using the Echo Show 15 in the kitchen to work on recipes, but it has found its way into my office (for now, at least) as I plan CES 2022.
The ability to link my Google Calendar to Alexa means I can see all upcoming meetings at a glance. I can also keep my to-do list close at all times, while the Smart Home widget lets me control devices in my office without speaking. (Nothing will disrupt a tech company meeting more than giving an Alexa command and triggering half a dozen different devices.)
For now, the widgets are strictly those provided by Amazon. However, the company has released an API that developers can use. Over time, widgets might follow the Alexa skill path, and you will have more choices than you could possibly dream of.
Over time, widgets might follow the Alexa skill path, and you will have more choices than you could possibly dream of.
The Echo Show 15 can be mounted horizontally or vertically, making it even more versatile than it already was. If you buy a third-party stand, you can even mount it at an angle on the countertop. The different configurations make the Echo Show 15 ideal for many different tasks, whether used in the kitchen or in your office.
It’s definitely better for entertainment when it’s in the horizontal orientation, but the vertical layout is better for playing content.
Picture in picture
Another new feature that turns into an everyday feature is the picture-in-picture feature. The best way to explain it is to illustrate it. If I have Hulu streaming on the Echo Show 15, I can ask Alexa to show one of my security cameras. It appears at the top right of the screen and allows me to check things around the house without losing sight of the plot.
Another new feature is visual identification. It uses the Echo Show 15’s camera to identify individual family members and change the display based on what’s relevant to that person. This is the one I didn’t take advantage of, admittedly – my wife and I see the same schedule, the same shopping list, and more. However, it could be useful for a household full of children.
Visual ID could be used to display individual to-do / to-do lists for each child in the house, and the timeline could change to show who has an upcoming game or project due.
Privacy and Security
Any device with built-in microphones and cameras will be subject to scrutiny for privacy. We’ve written at length about the need for more stringent security measures, especially physical privacy shutters. The Echo Show 15 delivers this in spades.
It includes a button to mute the microphone, as well as a physical shutter that blocks view of the lens. There are two buttons on the top of the Echo Show 15 (or on the side, if you’ve oriented it vertically) that control the volume. Beyond that, everything else is controlled by voice or touch.
Like other Alexa-enabled devices, you can choose to delete your recordings. It’s a good idea to keep track of what information your smart assistant knows about you, but the advantage of the Echo Show 15 is that you don’t have to worry about it recording you – with the lens closed, he can’t see anything.
Configuration and installation
Setting up the Echo Show 15 is a snap. It’s as easy as plugging the smart display into a power outlet, waiting for it to turn on, and following the on-screen instructions. That’s all it takes. You will need your Wi-Fi password to connect to your home network, then you will need to log into your Amazon account.
Keep your phone handy to receive the password for two-factor authentication. If you haven’t enabled it, do so now. You control the Echo Show 15 through the Alexa app. This is where you can change the display, images, and more.
The not so good
While I’m incredibly impressed with the Echo Show 15, there are areas that could use improvement. First of all, the software is a bit tricky. Trying to stream content from Netflix or Hulu often caused an app to crash, but only if I was using the touchscreen to access it. Asking Alexa to open the app or play a specific episode worked flawlessly each time. Hope this is just a small problem that can be fixed with a patch.
Another potential problem is weight. The Echo Show 15 is not light; in fact, it’s a little over 4 pounds. If you are lifting weights, that’s okay. For a smart display? I would be afraid of the end result if it fell off the wall.
Finally, the lack of customization is disappointing. The Echo Show 15 is so big and colorful that users could easily turn it into their own personalized device. There’s no real way to change the blue background, and the layout of the widgets is limited. It sounds like an area where Amazon could have (and maybe still, with OS updates) enabled a lot more features.
The Amazon Echo Show 15 is the biggest and most impressive smart display I’ve ever used. It almost immediately became my most used smart display. Just the ability to stream all my security cameras to one place while simultaneously tracking the weather and my upcoming events is amazing.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a giant step in the right direction for smart displays. Newer smart displays require parity between equivalent models, but in some ways the Echo Show 15 has lower specs than the Echo Show 10.
Is there a better alternative?
Size wise, nothing matches the Echo Show 15. It’s the biggest and meanest around. At the same time, it only has a 5-megapixel camera versus the Echo Show 10’s 13-megapixel camera – a smart display for the same price.
The difference? The Echo Show 10 is a device primarily intended for communication. It swivels to follow you across a room. The Echo Show 15 is for entertainment purposes. In terms of that, this smart display is the top of the line.
How long will it last?
The Echo Show 15 has a sturdy construction which gives an impression of quality. However, his weight is against him. If he fell, his weight could cause more damage. If anything does happen, it has a one-year limited warranty and service included.
Should we buy it?
Yes. The Echo Show 15 is a great device with a lot of usefulness. It’s the natural evolution of the Echo Show, and if you’re planning on using it for entertainment or utility purposes, like staying on top of your to-do list, you can’t go wrong.