The Amazon Echo Show lineup has always held a key spot in the house – each model is both the brains of Alexa and the nervous center of the smart home. Depending on how big of a brain you needed, there were always a few different models to choose from, but none of them have been as big – or as feature-rich – as the new Amazon Echo Show 15.
At nearly five inches bigger than the already large Amazon Echo 10 and just a tad more expensive at $249.99 / £239.99 / AU$399, the Echo Show 15 is essentially everything you liked about the slowly stagnating Show lineup boosted by a ton of new organizational features to keep everyone in your home on the same page.
Mostly, this is done through the new widgets that can be added to the main screen the same way you add widgets to your homescreen on iOS and Android, and they can show you how long your commute will be, for example, or show a shared to-do list for the house. There are more than a dozen of these widgets already available to pick from, and more will likely be added in the coming weeks, months and years.
Because it has an almost picture frame-like appearance, Amazon built the Echo Show 15 to be wall-mounted – which is very easy to do, thankfully. All you need to do is hold the plastic frame flat up to the wall and screw in four screws. We had ours up in a matter of minutes, and the process felt more painless than other previous wall-mounting attempts as we just hooked it onto some drywall in the kitchen.
Of course, that was the easy way out. You can drill into a more solid material if you have a drill bit for it, and Amazon even includes wall anchors inside the box. What’s not included, though, is a stand for the Amazon Echo Show 15 – you’ll have to buy that separately for an extra $29.99 (UK and Australian pricing yet to be confirmed) if you want the device to stand on its own.
The other issue with mounting the Echo Show 15 on the wall is that you’ll have the power cord to contend with. If you place it high up on your wall, it’s hard to hide the cord, but placing it too low could make it hard for people to see you when video chatting. Amazon recommends putting it within reach of everyone in the house, at or around eye level.
The other advantage of having it at that point is for the built-in camera to detect you when you’re interacting with the device, as that’s how you get personalized content.
For us, right out of the box, that content included weather, cooking recipes and jokes, though that can theoretically be different for everyone. If you want to add some spice to your homescreen, however, you can add those widgets we mentioned earlier… well, you can so long as Amazon Web Services (AWS) is up and running.
During our initial testing, unfortunately, there was a severe outage that crippled half the internet and made testing an Amazon Echo device very, very difficult.
When AWS is up and running like usual you’ll be able to use that homescreen to monitor your smart home devices, track package deliveries and more – all of which should look better and be easier to control on the larger screen. Though, that’s something we’ll have to continue to test as AWS comes back online later.
In terms of straight specs, the Echo Show looks rock-solid. The 15.6-inch full HD screen looks surprisingly good and inside is the new AZ2 Neural Edge processor – custom silicon designed for the shopping giant specifically to process voice commands. Operating the device is fast and simple whether we’re swiping or using our voice, and content loaded quickly on our moderately fast wireless internet (60Mbps) connection.
We’ll still need some more time with it to really evaluate how different types of content look on the screen and how well it can process tougher commands, but as of now it looks to be as competent as its predecessors with some key new advantages.
The Amazon Echo Show 15 immediately looks the part of a proper smart home hub, blurring the line between an eye-pleasing accent piece and a fully functional Alexa device. Navigating the new features has so far been fast and intuitive, despite AWS experiencing a catastrophic meltdown the day we plugged in our device.
Moreover, the new organizational tools feel like they’ll be more helpful and interactive compared to previous Echo Show devices, and we’re hoping that the Full HD screen will make movies and shows look their best, too.