Apple’s Phil Schiller probably didn’t choose the ideal time to tease Amazon for crippling its increasingly popular Echo line of smart speakers, as a versatile “Knight” in shining armor predictably breaks cover today to substantially enrich Alexa’s capabilities.
You can now use your voice to command the digital assistant to show you stuff on a 7-inch touchscreen, as well as make hands-free video calls to select friends and family members. Specifically, those also in possession of a brand-new Echo Show device or Alexa App users.
As expected, this tablet-like smart home hub has a decidedly retro vibe going, weighing a massive 41 ounces (1.17 kg) while clumsily putting a display on top of a thick speaker base containing eight microphones, “beam-forming” technology, and noise cancellation.
If Apple is indeed working on something similar, it’ll certainly be sleeker and made to feel more “premium”, but it’s unlikely to cost a measly $229.99. That’s how much early Amazon Echo Show adopters are charged on pre-orders, with shipping only underway on June 28, and a $100 discount currently offered for bundles of two or more of these gadgets.
Keep in mind that a regular Echo sets you back $150, and an Echo Look goes for $200 on an invite-only basis. The Show is able to provide extras like CNN video “flash” news and full YouTube access, on-screen Amazon Music lyrics, photos, detailed weather forecasts, security camera footage and voice calling functionality in addition to all the standard Echo features and “skills.” Fugly (in both black and white) yet affordable and super-convenient. Interested?