Show and tell

Alexa con­tin­ues her evo­lu­tion to­wards full hu­manoid in­ter­ac­tiv­ity, as the Echo AI as­sis­tant gains a touch­screen. If only we knew what to ac­tu­ally do with it…

Stuff (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Voice as­sis­tants were in­vented to free us from screens, right? Well, kind of.

Leav­ing aside Ama­zon’s ob­vi­ous com­mer­cial mo­tive for mak­ing Alexa your AI bestie, the real ben­e­fit is free­ing you from your smart­phone’s screen (and dozens of fid­dly apps). That’s why, af­ter cre­at­ing a gad­get that many of us didn’t know we needed with the Echo, Ama­zon has now given Alexa the power of con­tex­tual info with her very own dis­play.

The new Ama­zon Echo Show gives you another way to bring Alexa into your home, this time with the ben­e­fit of a 7in screen in­side a more boxy form. The Echo Show is still pri­mar­ily a voice-con­trolled de­vice, but the touch­screen un­locks added abil­i­ties, es­pe­cially when it comes to controlling Hue bulbs and stream­ing Spo­tify.

But while we get the the­ory be­hind the Echo Show, does Alexa re­ally ben­e­fit from a screen? That was our ques­tion when Ama­zon an­nounced the de­vice in May – and hon­estly, af­ter a week of us­ing the US ver­sion of the Echo Show (it hasn’t come to the UK yet), we don’t have a clear an­swer. It’s a for­ward-think­ing de­vice with po­ten­tial, but for now its unique func­tion­al­ity is lim­ited.

In the fu­ture, though, when Alexa has more screen-based apps to play with, might this be an es­sen­tial up­grade?

US$230 / stuff.tv/echoshow

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