But the device’s kinship to a smartphone’s or tablet’s capabilities are unmistakable. Asking Alexa to do a video call with Echo Show reminded me of asking Siri to do a FaceTime call on an iPhone. Ditto for when I asked Alexa what my day looked like on the Echo Show, which produced the same summary of events as when I asked Google the same question on an Android phone.
After a week of tests, while I concluded that the product is ideal on a kitchen counter or an office desk, I also decided it was superfluous if you already own an Echo speaker and a smartphone or tablet. Whether or not you will be persuaded to buy one will probably hinge on your affinity for Alexa.
The setup process for the Echo Show was one of the easiest and fastest I have ever experienced: Just plug it in and enter your Wi-Fi password and Amazon credentials. From there, I could start putting Alexa to work. (If you use third-party services like Spotify, you have to log in to those as well.)
The Echo Show’s screen constantly stayed on with a background photo of my choice. It displayed the time while rotating through captions showing future calendar events, the weather and tips on questions I could ask Alexa.
Video calling and video playback are the most important features of the Echo Show. After a command like “Alexa, show me how to roast a duck from YouTube,” the screen loaded a list of YouTube videos; each video is numbered, so you could ask Alexa to play a specific clip by naming the number.
You could also ask Alexa to place a call to another Echo customer. When I tried it, the Alexa app synchronized with my smartphone’s address book to determine who else was using an Echo. Then just by asking Alexa to call the name of a contact, I could immediately commence a video call.
What was also nice about the Echo Show’s being stationary is that it remained fixed on a flattering angle of my face. (If you’re tired of staring up…