Smart home control devices with screens are nothing new, once the big smarthome speaker companies realised they could throw a screen on we’ve had options of every shape and size to make those voice assistants more helpful. But the new Echo Hub from Amazon isn’t meant to be “just another Alexa speaker”. In fact, it’s not that at all.

The Echo Hub is a smaller, thinner 8 inch screen that is designed to be wall mounted, but can also sit on a desk stand (optional accessory). I’ve been testing it desk mounted, but I feel like that doesn’t give you the real feeling of the device.

At the EFTM office I use Alexa voice commands for most of the lights and smart controls. Walk in and “Alexa I’m here” turns on all the screens and ceiling lights. At the end of the day “Alexa I’m leaving” switches all those things off.

Even if I mounted the Echo Hub on the wall I doubt that would change. Voice is just easier for a command like that.

But, for all the lights I have connected, the Echo Hub is the absolutely ultimate smart home control device.

At a glance I can see a list of my rooms or groups, plus widgets which I can customise. Ring smart camera owners will get the benefit of simple access to each of their cameras from a similar widget on that home screen.

When not in “control” mode you can have the screen display photos or wallpapers and you just need to walk near it for it to “wake up” and present it’s home smart screen.

With literally thousands of smart home devices compatible with the Amazon Alexa ecosystem this can really be a single hub for it all, though I think in a well organised Alexa based smart home you’ll have it all structured and easy to use on the screen.

Widgets are where the true power of this device are to be unlocked. Everything from simple music suggestions, to easy push of the button drop-ins to your other Echo devices.

You can have the weather in a Widget or even little virtual post-it notes.

The Amazon Echo Hub is designed to be the centre of your home, not just your smart home.

Ideally placed in the most high-traffic area of your home, this is a device that should be seen or even treated like a light switch. It’s like it’s not there when you don’t need to access your devices, but when you walk past it you might catch the time, or a reminder. When you come to the Echo Hub with intent, there’s everything you need – like your calendar, the weather, or access to those lights or routines you have setup.

I have voice routines for lots of different modes and moments, but found myself using the Echo Hub at times because it was right there – waiting basically.

You can play music through it, but it wouldn’t be one to keep the party going. It is a nice way to bring the radio or music to a room though. More likely you’ll set it to be the voice control and have the music play on bigger or better speakers.

I love the idea of the Echo Hub, and that there are mounting options to suit a range of possibilities – but it’s $329 – if you’re going to sit it on a bench then just get almost any Echo Show device for half or even less than this device.

Even for the wall mounting option, the much larger Echo Show 15 is similarly designed to be wall Hung and is still under $400.

So I like what they’ve done here, but feel like it’s been priced $50 too high or even more. If I was to grab an Echo Hub, I’d only do it if I could have it really well installed professionally into the wall – power and all – and that’s going to require a sparky because I don’t want the cord in the wall then popping out to a power point, or more likely there isn’t just a random power point on the wall I want this on:). These are all the little things that come from wanting something like this – which is ideally designed and fit for purpose.