The rumours turned out to be true: Amazon just introduced the Echo Show 15, a wall-mountable smart display.
The Echo Show 15 is the largest Echo Show yet with a 15.6-inch 1080p display. Visually, it’s similar to the Samsung Frame TV, but a tad smaller and much more affordable at $399. It can be hung vertically or horizontally and, like the Samsung Frame, can be used to display photos or art. The Echo Show 15 will support Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and Sling TV in select regions.
If you’re wondering why Amazon decided to make a giant Echo Show, the idea is to act as a sort of hub for families. The Show 15 introduces a widget gallery. According to Amazon, the Alexa widgets continually refresh in the background and can be rearranged to best suit a user’s needs. For example, the smart home favourites widget is meant to let a user view and control their most frequently used devices. Another is a “sticky notes” widget, which basically lets you leave digital Post-Its for your family.
The device is powered by a new AZ2 quad-core processer that’s much faster than the previous generation SoC. While processor upgrades are expected, Amazon says this new silicon can now enable a feature called Visual ID. The idea is that the Echo Show 15 will be able to recognise different family members as they pass by the display. Once a Visual ID is set up, the Echo Show will show each individual customised greetings, personal reminders, calendar events, notes, or music. If you choose to enroll your kids in Visual ID, Amazon says the device will only show age-appropriate content.
Amazon also announced some new AI features. Namely, you can now teach Alexa what your preferences are. That includes stuff like your favourite sports team or even dietary needs, so if you’re a vegetarian, Alexa will only serve up relevant recipes. The other AI feature is Custom Sounds. You can teach Alexa a specific sound — like your fridge beeping because the door was left open — and if the assistant hears your fridge beep, it’ll then send you a notification to close your fridge door.
As for privacy — because you’ve always got to wonder about privacy with camera-enabled devices — Amazon says it included a built-in shutter to cover the camera. Users will also be able to view and delete voice recordings, as well as tweak microphone and camera controls. With regard to Visual ID, Amazon says it’s an optional feature, and that all image processing happens on-device. Visual IDs can also be deleted at any time.
We’ll have to see how the Echo Show 15 works for ourselves, but it’ll be available later this year for $399.