Several months ago I built a simple Flash Briefing skill for the Observed Tech PODCAST using Amazon’s Alexa Skill tools through the Alexa Developer Portal. As a result of putting that skill together, Amazon sent me an Echo Dot for further development and testing.
Last month, the Amazon developer team once again offered hardware to Alexa skill developers with previously published skills. As a result of building out another Alexa skill, this one is for a Flash Briefing about new Tweeted Links articles over on WinObs.com, the Amazon developer team has sent me a new Amazon Echo Show (2nd Generation).
This is my first opportunity to check out an Amazon Alexa device that has a screen and I must say it adds another level of interactivity to the device that was missing in other Alexa enabled devices.
Since it is a second generation piece of hardware, Amazon has given the Echo Show a much larger screen and some seriously great sounding speakers in a compact device that looks at home on our kitchen island. I also think this just might be the device that gets my wife using more Alexa features as we go forward.
The Echo Show is backed by its own unique functionality thanks to Alexa, plus a library of more than 50,000 skills from all types of developers and third party vendors. Seriously, Echo Show is just as capable as your other Alexa devices except it adds the video dimension to your interactions.
Out of the box setup for Echo Show took about 15 minutes to get it up and running, then the rest of the time I spent tweaking settings using the Alexa app on my Samsung Galaxy S9+. The app is your primary method of managing the capabilities of your Echo Show. In conjunction with some Echo Show specific options on the actual device, this combination of tools is what will get your customized experience up and running. My suggestion is that you dive in and experiment because you will not break the Echo Show in the process. Plus, if all else fails you can factory reset and start over.
When I plugged in the Echo Show, it was already pre-registered to my Amazon account because that is how Amazon ships all Alexa enabled devices. I just had to give the device a connection to the Internet via our Wi-Fi network and then it checked for and downloaded system updates. Once those were downloaded the device restarted and completed the software update. All along the way you will see messages on the Echo Show screen keeping you apprised of the setup progress.
The hardware itself feels very solid. I ordered the sandstone colored device instead of the black one. It looks great and blends in well with our lightly colored walls. The base has a rubber based that helps hold it in place and the 10.1 inch HD screen looks good displaying images and videos. The sound is rich with the side and rear facing speakers and can be adjusted with the built-in equalizer. The device has far field microphones that easily pick up commands across the room plus it has a built in 5MP front facing camera to facilitate video calls with other compatible Alexa enabled devices. Audio only calls are possible with any compatible Alexa enabled devices using the Alexa Drop-In calling feature.
I am really looking forward to integrating the Echo Show into our daily routines so I created a family calendar that we can add our combined events to using the Echo Show. In addition, I am showing my wife how to use the device for tasks such as shopping lists, timers, and doing one of her favorite things – researching recipes.
Of course, these are just scratching the surface of the possibilities of using Alexa but you have to start somewhere!
Below you can see my unboxing and setup images of the second generation Echo Show. Let me know if you have any questions by posting them in the comments below.
Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen) Product Ulack one and iy nboxing and Setup Shots