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Amazon Echo Show 15 Review

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review
Written by publishing team

Amazon’s Echo Show 15 ($249.99) is the company’s largest unique smart display to date: it looks like a picture frame and mounts to the wall as a single frame, while its UI elements and face detection capabilities make it a useful information hub for every member of the family. However, the sound and camera quality is disappointing, the widgets are currently very limited, and both widgets and face detection will be rolling out to other Echo Show devices. Unless you specifically need a smart screen to hang on your wall, other Echo offerings from Amazon may serve you better. For example, the $129.99 Echo Show 8 costs half the cost of the Echo Show 15 and offers superior speakers. And for $249.99, the Echo Show 10 is the best video calling model thanks to the motorized base that allows its cameras to follow you around the room.

Designed for installation

The Echo Show 15 measures 9.9 x 15.8 x 1.4 inches (HWD) and weighs 4 pounds 4 ounces. It looks similar to a framed, interlocking piece of art. The 15-inch screen with a 0.7-inch white bezel sits beneath a glass panel, enclosed in a 0.4-inch matte black metal frame for a streamlined, attractive look.

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Amazon Echo Show 15

(Photo: Will Greenwald)

A 5-megapixel camera in the left corner of the matte white border is the only element that permeates the clean aesthetic. The edge of the bezel to the left of the camera has perforated microphones for Alexa hands-free use, while the bezel to the right of that corner houses a physical camera cover switch, as well as buttons for mic mute, volume down, and volume up.

The back of the Echo Show 15 has a square groove for the included mounting bracket, along with four screw holes. The circular cavity houses the power connector and the service micro USB port.

Amazon Echo Show 15

(Photo: Will Greenwald)

The mounting bracket and included hardware allow you to secure the Echo Show to your wall, either horizontally or vertically. However, due to its narrow depth, you can’t fit it on a table like most other smart displays. If you want a suite, you have to pay extra; The Sanus Tilt Stand costs an additional $29.99.

Amazon sent us the test platform. It’s an appropriately simple and heavy stand with a matte black rectangular base that keeps the Echo Show 15 stable in landscape or portrait orientation. The mounting arm of the stand has a hinge that allows you to tilt the stand up to 30 degrees. It works well, but putting the Echo Show 15 on the table defeats its biggest attraction, which is the ability to hang it on the wall.

The centerpiece of the Echo Show 15 is a 15-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It’s slightly smaller and less sharp than the Facebook Portal+’s 15.6-inch, 2160 x 1440 screen, but it still looks crisp and clear. We can’t measure its contrast and color like we can with TVs, but as per the anecdotal it looks bright and colorful enough for a smart screen. Don’t expect the kind of light or color output you’d get with a good 4K TV, though – just by looking at it, it’s clear that it’s not trying to offer high dynamic range (HDR) or a wide color space.

Amazon Echo Show 15

(Photo: Will Greenwald)

The large screen helps power the latest Echo Show feature: quick widgets that provide information and media access. You can arrange multiple tile-based widgets to appear when you look at the Echo Show 15, arranged in two rows. There are currently 14 different widgets available, including calendars, maps, reminders, shopping lists, smart home controls, sticky notes, and weather reports. It’s a modest but useful set, although only some take full advantage of the touchscreen. For example, while you can tap to select a radio station on an Amazon Prime Music widget or to control the lights with a smart home widget, most of them provide primarily visual information.

There are no third-party tools currently available, and even Amazon Prime Video is missing from the current selection. Amazon Prime Music also seems very inflexible; It lets you listen to Amazon recommendations, but not your favorite songs or playlists. You can also select only one large widget (spanning two or three regular tiles) at once, so you have to choose between calendar, map, or music suggestions. Even tools that simply act as quick access to apps and services like Netflix or a web browser would be a welcome addition.

Facebook’s Portal screens offer more touch controls for direct access to the app and contacts, but the Echo Show’s widgets provide more visual information. It’s a trade-off between the two systems, with Google’s Nest Hub group falling behind both systems in this regard. It’s also worth noting that while the Echo Show 15 offers the best way to show off UI elements through the wide screen area, widgets are also launched on other Echo Show devices, appearing in just one row instead of two.

Everyone in the house can set up custom home screens with different widgets, and the Echo Show 15 will load the correct screen profile as they approach. Aside from the Voice ID feature that all Echo devices have, the Echo Show 15 adds a visual ID for facial detection, where the camera monitors the faces it recognizes and reacts accordingly.

Amazon Echo Show 15

(Photo: Will Greenwald)

Setting up the visual ID is simple: the camera records each user’s face at different angles and associates that data with the correct profile. If you don’t want the Echo Show 15 to always watch for you, you can disable the Visual ID and actually close the shutter using the switch on the side. Visual ID is not exclusive to the Echo Show 15; It will be added to the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10 in a future update.

Alexa is still useful

All Alexa-based voice commands are available on the Echo Show 15. Just say “Alexa,” give the command, and Alexa will do what you ask. The Amazon voice assistant can check your calendar, open various apps, and provide general information such as weather reports. The Alexa platform works with a long list of smart home devices, and we love its ability to pull camera feeds directly from compatible home security cameras and video doorbells.

Amazon Echo Show 15

(Photo: Will Greenwald)

Alexa also offers a lot of calling capabilities. Amazon’s Drop In feature allows you to make voice or video calls to anyone who has an Echo device, Echo Show, or Alexa app on their smartphone, including inside your home. Outside of Amazon platforms, you can make phone calls (to standard phone numbers in North America and the UK, but not to premium or three-digit numbers including emergency services); start Skype audio and video calls; Zoom support will be added in early 2022.

You can extend your Alexa tool even further with third-party skills. Most Alexa skills are for Echo smart speakers rather than Echo Show smart displays, however, they only offer voice-based information and controls. Additionally, unlike the apps on Portal devices, you can’t browse Alexa skills on the Echo Show 15 or arrange icons to access them by touch; You need to use your voice.

Not the best camera or sound

The camera on the Echo Show 15 is surprisingly less advanced than what you get on the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10. It uses a modest 5MP sensor and lacks the auto-framing capabilities of the 13MP cameras on the other two devices (and, of course, the Echo Show 10’s automated tracking ). You get solid performance for video calls and photo booth shots with the right lighting, but it’s strange that Amazon skimps on the camera here.

Amazon Echo Show 15

(Photo: Will Greenwald)

The Echo Show 15 also lacks the power of sound, although this is more of a concept given its narrow design. It features two 1.6-inch drivers, which are smaller than the 2-inch drivers on the Echo Show 8 (not to mention the Echo Show 10’s 3-inch woofer paired with 1-inch woofers). Expect sound that’s suitable for idle listening (despite its lack of bass), but not suitable for fully enjoying music or for powering a party.

On our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Scream,” the bass notes sound hollow and distant in width 15, while the kick drum hits with almost no force behind it. Fortunately, drives do not distort at maximum volume.

Tracks that have less bass, like Yes “Roundabout,” sound better. The acoustic guitar in the opening sections acquires a strong resonance and a pleasing feel to the texture of the strings. As the whole track begins, the balance is clearly skewed to the middle and upper highs, with guitar, cymbal, and vocals accentuating. The bass is audible, but lacks the low pitch, for a nice, but slightly bright sound.

This also comes with the “Born Too Slow” in the Crystal Method. Harsh guitar tones stand firmly in the spotlight, while vocals sit a bit in the background. The back beat seems a little off in the mix, too.

Amazon Echo Show 15

(Photo: Will Greenwald)

Echo, echo on the wall

The Amazon Echo Show 15 is a large and attractive smart display that can be easily installed on the wall. We like its wide screen and UI elements, but it’s a little flat in terms of audio and camera performance. If you have room on a table, desk, or shelf, the Echo Show 8 feels much more powerful, has sharper camera quality, and costs half the price. For the same price as the Echo Show 15, meanwhile, the Echo Show 10 offers better audio and useful mechanical tracking for video calls. And if you prefer Facebook services, the $199 Portal Go makes better use of an app-enabled touch screen and supports several enterprise-grade video conferencing services. But if you’re looking for a smart display that you can mount as a piece of art, the unique Echo Show 15 fits the bill.

bottom line

The Amazon Echo Show 15 can easily be installed on your wall, but other models offer better sound and camera quality if you have space on a counter or table.

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publishing team