Amazon's Echo Show: Tech Download
07.26.17

Amazon’s Echo Show – Tech Review

Our experience design team has been busy playing around with virtual assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home and exploring how we can leverage these voice applications as tools to move low cost and highly personalized healthcare into patient’s homes. Now, with the introduction of the Echo Show, Amazon’s family of personal assistants is growing again. The Echo Show is the first Alexa-powered smart voice assistant to sport a touch screen. Read on for our take on the newest generation of Amazon voice-first technology.

Benefits of a Screen
Typical voice interfaces, like the Echo and Dot, are limited by short utterances and are constantly pushing visual content to screen-based devices like your smartphone. Where the Echo and Dot’s voice interactions create an invisible interface in your home, the Show offers a visible interface, which commands as much or as little of your attention as you’d like. Like every other Amazon Echo smart speaker, the Echo Show is controlled almost entirely with your voice; however, the Show takes this a step further: ask the Echo Show to buy you lightbulbs, and the screen lights up with a few options from Amazon to flip through.


Benefits of a ScreenOut-of-Box Experience
Overall, we found the unboxing experience to be easy and pain-free. The simple packaging and minimal components made setup as easy as plug in and play.

First, we pulled off the bold colored wrap that housed the interior box. The tone-on-tone Amazon logo on the inner box was a nice, subtle touch of branding that invited us to look inside. After pulling a side panel for easy-open of the box, we were presented with a clean cellophane wrapped device. The bright blue interior of the box contrasts the sleek all-black device calling the user to pick it up.

Beneath the device, there was a small piece of black card stock for the user to remove the device from the box, but it seemed out of place as we did not notice it was there until we had already removed the device. Behind the tabbed paper, an IFU and suggestion card were nestled on top of a power adaptor. With just two components, the user can immediately see how simple the system is. The easy physical set-up consisted of plugging the device in, and the on-screen setup was just as easy.

Out-of-Box Experience
Easy Setup
Whereas the original Echo requires a smartphone to set up, the Echo Show just uses its own screen and your wifi connection. The four-step setup is delightfully simple and easy to complete:

1. Optimizing: after an initial splash screen, a progress bar informed us the device was optimizing for a couple of minutes.
2. Connect to WiFi: the user is prompted to connect the device to a wifi network.
3. Sign into Amazon account: an amazon account sign in is required as a final step in order to enable purchases and prime video
4. Ready

Easy Setup
Disappointing Design
The design of the device itself, however, is lacking. Taking into account where users would likely keep this device — the kitchen counter, coffee table, or bedside table, the Show lacks usability. Not only does the Show’s boxy shape remind us of our old box TV sets, it also restricts the user from nestling it comfortably into a corner or pressing the device flat against a wall.

In addition, the angle of the screen makes it so that the Show is only usable sitting at certain heights. Not only is it difficult to see the screen from many angles, the Show’s camera has difficulty seeing you. For instance, if the device is sitting on the user’s kitchen counter, the camera looks up at the ceiling, rather than their face. If the main selling point of the Echo Show is that it now has a screen, greater attention should have been paid to the usability of the screen itself.

Disappointing Design
Final Thoughts
The new Echo Show’s visual element bridges the gap left by voice-only interactions, which makes interacting with Alexa much more enjoyable. Users want to have the choice to use a device in a way that best suits their needs. Now, users can not only see what commands they are giving Alexa, but also make selections quickly with a tap instead of waiting to give a voice command.

The Show is also great for those following along as Alexa reads an article, walking through a recipe, or displaying a to-do list. Another unique functionality of the Show is the “drop-in” capability which allows users with the Alexa app to video chat with other Show users.

If you’re going to pay for the original Echo, the touchscreen is worth the slightly higher price point. We only wish it came with a slightly better looking design.

 

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