If my 16-month old boy Henry doesn’t come out with “Hey Google” very soon, I’ll be taking him for a hearing test. We’ve become that family, who speak to a device to find things out, open doors, turn on lights and dare I say boil the kettle. I’m also a Siri man, Apple and its HomeKit also rules supreme around here. Never did I think the day would arrive when the following word would be uttered “Alexa”. Recently we told you about a range of Echo devices coming to Australia, but here’s the real show stopper.
Amazon’s new Echo Show is sitting on my Kitchen bench, it’s a 10-inch HD display that looks like a tablet on a stand. Look behind it however and there’s a sizable area consisting of powerful speakers producing rich stereo sound with solid base. It’s actually best placed in a corner because it has side-firing speakers that reverberate off the walls creating a pretty impressive immersive sound.
But I want to focus on how well it really has integrated into my ‘smarthome’. I doubt I’ll be living with the Echo Show for too long, our dictator and all mighty Trevor Long will see to that, but I’m impressed. Via the Amazon Alexa app it quickly discovered my Nest and Arlo cameras and found the Ring door bell, it’ll probably find my wedding ring at some point.
To be able to call up a camera without the need to look at your phone is fantastic, it basically becomes an intercom screen for the front door. But a major benefit I’ve discovered is seeing our Arlo Baby Monitor while cooking.
I love the Alexa Skills capability. Because of its cloud-based service developers or just everyday people can create certain abilities. There’re literally thousands of skills available, someone for example has created a “what’s my bin night” skill. Based on your postcode she promptly answers the question.
I may not get to Amazon Music but Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and RadioApp have all been working beautifully. If you’re a news buff you can get a “flash briefing”, Sky News and Channel 10 currently provide the service, but the bulletins could be more regularly updated. I guess it’s still early days for suppliers to really focus on populating these devices with content. You can watch the Fox Sports News live stream, find out about your energy bill if you’re with AGL and check banking details via NAB. You can also find out when your energy bill is due from AGL and check your credit card due date with NAB. Virgin Australia is also on board to provide up coming flight details.
The Echo Show incorporates a 5MP camera that allows for video calling to those who have an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App. Even Skype capability is on the way. On supported Echo devices you can use Drop In to see what’s happening in the room the device is placed.
The Kitchen seems to be the natural hub for the Echo Show, it does shopping lists, offers step by step recipes via taste.com.au and gernally acts as a multimedia companion in the busiest part of the house. Of course, staying on top of the weekly shopping could be very easy via Amazon Prime membership and amazon.com.au. Unlikely for me, but it’s the first kind of interaction I’ve had with a device where this is possible. There’s web browser access and you can use touchscreen controls instead of constantly barking – Alexa!
Given what it is capable of, it makes my Google home look Jurassic. Buy you’ll need to go down the whole Amazon path, still a relatively new entity here. The Echo Show is available at $349.00 and currently comes with a Philips Hue smart lightbulb. Check out JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks and more plus of course amazon.com.au
Chris is EFTM’s Motoring Editor, driving everything from your entry level hatch to the latest Luxury cars through to the Rolls Royce.
He has been in the media for 20 years, produced three Olympic games broadcasts, attending Beijing 2008 & London 2012.
Strangely he owns a Toyota Camry Hybrid, he defiantly rejects the knockers.
Chris is married to Gillian and resides in Sydney’s North West. They have Sam the English Springer Spaniel and Felix the Burmese cat to keep them company, and recently welcomed baby Henry to the family.