Having owned an Amazon Echo for over a year now, I am quick to recommend it to just about anyone. It is really perfect for the home. But I don’t feel the same way about the Echo Show, the newest and most expensive member of the Echo family, which lacks a small but significant feature that’s on every other Echo.
Every Amazon Echo — save for the $230 Echo Show — can be used from any direction. The Echo devices feature a handful of microphones for listening and an omni-directional speaker grille for speaking, which means it is exceedingly good at both hearing you and speaking to you, wherever you are in your home.
In other words, you can use it on your couch, or in the kitchen, or in another room, and it will work. It even knows where your voice is coming from; the blue ring at the top of the device “points” to you when you’re talking.
The Echo Show is also a stationary object like the other Echo devices, but its most important feature — its 7-inch touchscreen display — cannot move, which means this particular Echo cannot be used from any direction.
In other words, if you want to use the Echo Show, you’ll have to be directly in front of it.
This is fine if you plan on mainly using your Echo Show in one place, like the kitchen. But as an Echo owner, the lack of this feature immediately makes me disinterested in the Show.
Using the Echo from anywhere in your home is easily its signature feature. I can be sitting on my couch, or in my bathroom, or even in my bedroom, and be able to use all the Echo features from there. This level of freedom is a huge plus; the Echo fits into my lifestyle, not the other way around. I don’t need to walk to a specific location to use it.
You can still speak to the Echo Show from anywhere in the house, as you can with other Echo devices. But the Echo Show is all about the screen, and you can’t use that feature from anywhere in my home. That, to me, is a deal-breaker.
Here’s hoping the next version of Amazon’s Echo Show comes with an iMac-like swivel head.