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Posted: May 10, 2017

Amazon Echo Show: 5 things to know about the 'stupendously powerful' device

This photo provided by Amazon shows models of the Amazon Echo Show. Amazon is giving its voice-enabled Echo speaker a touch screen and video-calling capabilities as it competes with Google's efforts at bringing
Amazon/AP
This photo provided by Amazon shows models of the Amazon Echo Show. Amazon is giving its voice-enabled Echo speaker a touch screen and video-calling capabilities as it competes with Google's efforts at bringing "smarts" to the home. The new device, called Echo Show, goes on sale on June 28, 2017. Amazon says it's also bringing calling and messaging features to its existing Echo and Echo Dot devices and the Alexa app for phones. (Amazon via AP)

By Fiza Pirani, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Amazon officially unveiled the Amazon Echo Show, its first smart speaker with a built-in touchscreen, Tuesday.

Here are five things to know about the new device:

>> Creepy or useful? Amazon’s new Echo Look selfie camera wants to help you get dressed

Tech specs 

  • 7-inch display
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Dual 2-inch stereo speakers powered by Dolby
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera

>> Read more trending news

Features

  • Built-in camera
  • Voice-assistance from Alexa; includes at least 12,000 skills or tasks
  • Bluetooth
  • Touchscreen display offers more on-screen information (step-by-step recipe instructions, 10-day weather reports) and can be used to play videos.
  • Music display features: Connects to Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and offers real-time song lyrics, custom stations, curated playlists, album art
  • Organization features: Ask Alexa to start timers, manage calendars, create to-do lists and sync all the information with the Alexa app.
  • Drop In feature: Free voice-call feature (similar to Apple’s FaceTime) for those with the Alexa app, Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show to message or call each other.
  • Compatible with smart home devices such as cameras, lights, fans, garages, sprinklers and more, so you can potentially ask Alexa to turn off the lights without getting off the couch

>> On AJC.com: Someone asked Amazon’s Alexa about the CIA and the answers are hilarious

What are critics saying?

Wired Magazine called the device and its abilities “stupendously powerful” and lauded the touchscreen feature that now complements Alexa’s voice control. 

“A screen in the Echo universe means there’s almost nothing you and Alexa can’t do,” Wired’s David Pierce wrote.

But The Verge noted some of the device’s limitations, including a “slightly unsettling” feature in Drop In, the voice-call feature. Drop In allows users to white-list individual contacts who will be able to pop up and start a video chat on your Echo Show unannounced.

“I personally cannot imagine ever letting my friends have this power, but maybe that’s just me.” tech critic The Verge’s Chaim Gartenberg said.

Other limitations include Amazon’s single-user system, which would give anyone in the house access to things like to-do lists and would set off all your devices if someone calls you via Drop In.

In addition, because the device is built to run Echo skills and not apps, users won’t be able to run Amazon’s own Fire OS apps, or anything from the Google Play Store, Gartenberg said.

>> On AJC.com: 7 hidden perks of Amazon Prime you probably never knew about

How to buy

The Amazon Echo Show is currently available to pre-order on Amazon for $229.99 in black or white. The device will be released June 28. 

Amazon is also offering a buy two, save $100 deal with promo code SHOW2PACK.

How to use

Plug the Echo Show into a power outlet, connect to the internet and ask Alexa.

More at Amazon.com.

Amazon/AP
This photo provided by Amazon shows an Amazon Echo Show on display in a living room setting. Amazon is giving its voice-enabled Echo speaker a touch screen and video-calling capabilities as it competes with Google's efforts at bringing "smarts" to the home. The new device, called Echo Show, goes on sale on June 28, 2017. Amazon says it's also bringing calling and messaging features to its existing Echo and Echo Dot devices and the Alexa app for phones. (Amazon via AP)


Related

Creepy or useful? Amazon’s new Echo Look selfie camera wants to help you get dressed

Alija/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Creepy or useful? Amazon’s new Echo Look selfie camera wants to help you get dressed

When the Amazon Echo had its first big debut in 2015, it was introduced as a speaker with a voice assistant inside. Now, the newest device in the Echo family is focused on making sure you leave the house looking your absolute best.

>> Read more trending news

On Wednesday, Amazon revealed the Echo Look — priced at $200 — as a “hands-free camera and style assistant” featuring everything Amazon Alexa offers plus a selfie camera to take full-length photos and 360-degree videos, which Alexa uses to give you a major style check.

The camera has built-in LED lighting and depth sensors, which blurs the background.

Here’s how the Echo Look camera works:

1. Simply ask Alexa to take a picture or video or use the Echo Look app to get a live view of your outfits, which will be stored as a lookbook on the app.

2. Use the app to get recommendations based on your daily style.

3. Get a second opinion in the app’s Style Check feature based on outfit, color and current trends, all part of Amazon-curated advice from fashion specialists using advanced machine-learning algorithms.

With Alexa built in, you can use the Echo Look to ask Alexa to read you the news, set your alarms, play music and everything else  for which she’s beloved.

According to The Verge, if the Style Check feature is particularly appealing, the Amazon iOS app offers a similar feature called Outfit Compare under its programs and features menu.

While the Echo Look version gives you a percentage rating of your outfits based on the aforementioned expert opinions, Outfit Compare picks which outfit of two it prefers.

The device, which has a large microphone and camera off button on its side, has a similar design to many home-security cameras.

With video added to the category of always-on devices, a new set of worries surrounding privacy implications of “always-on” recording devices is likely to increase among those who were already wary, TechCrunch reported.

In 2015, according to Law360, a privacy watchdog group urged the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate companies such as Google and Amazon that make “always on” devices such as the Echo Look.

“By introducing ‘always on’ voice recording into ordinary consumer products such as computers, televisions and toys, companies are listening to consumers in their most private spaces,” the group said. “It is unreasonable to expect consumers to monitor their every word in front of their home electronics. It is also genuinely creepy.”

As of Wednesday evening, Amazon’s Echo Look ($200) is available exclusively by invitation and customers can request an invite on the website.

 
 

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