Can You Live Without This New Gadget?

Category: Gadgets

Amazon introduced its first Alexa-enabled digital speaker in June 2015. In 2016, the Amazon Echo was joined by Amazon Tap and Echo Dot. Now, another Alexa product has debuted in May 2017. Will this new personal digital assistant become a central part of your life, your family and your home? Read on for the scoop...

Introducing the Amazon Echo Show

The Amazon Echo Show looks quite different from the original cylindrical Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, and Echo Dot. The Echo Show is more linear, with the profile of a cheese wedge. It has a touchscreen, a first for this type of product. And of course, it has Alexa. Put the two together and you have everyone’s “dream Echo.” (There's even a dreamy white version of Amazon Echo Show.)

While Alexa tells you about the weather, the Echo Show’s screen displays your current and estimated high/low temperatures, odds of precipitation, etc. When you ask who won the big game, Alexa recites the team name while Show shows you the final score. The 7-inch screen is readable from many angles and distances. Just about anything you could do with Echo, you can do with Echo Show via voice or touch commands.

The Amazon Echo Show is basically a tablet computer. But Amazon is not competing with Samsung and Apple, so no Fire OS apps are available for the Show. Amazon really wants to sell you an Alexa you not only talk to, but also touch.

Review: Amazon Echo Show

All of the “skills” that have been developed for the Echo work just as well on Echo Show. Amazon has also given developers tools for developing visual components of skills. Lyft could display your car’s location and ETA. Phillips Lighting can show you a color wheel to help select your mood lighting. You could watch a morning newscast instead of listening to it. And, of course, Alexa plus a touchscreen means much more exciting shopping on Amazon!

Voice-control of video content is another possibility. Voice-search for YouTube videos or browse the Amazon Prime Video Library. There’s no Hulu or Netflix, yet.

The Show’s front-facing camera, multiple microphones, and decent-sized screen make it ideal for video chats. And Amazon is rolling out a new Alexa-based communication system, which lets you send audio, video, and text messages to anyone with an Alexa device or app. Do we really need another way to send a text message? No, of course not. But Amazon thinks the Show will become the central exchange for all household communications.

Bells and Whistles Included

Mom in the kitchen will be able to flip on the nursery’s video feed with a quick voice command or touch of a virtual button. Calling everyone to dinner via Show will be a lot easier on the throat. And everybody can gather around Show when it’s time to call Grandma.

You can even link a home phone number to the Echo Show, so that any calls to that number will ring all the phones in your house, or just some of them. This call-hunt feature is part of the array of voice and messaging functions that Amazon is rolling out to all Alexa products, not just Show.

But these new voice and messaging functions will spotlight one of Alexa’s biggest shortcomings. There can be only one user per Alexa account. When Dad’s phone starts ringing with Junior’s friends, Amazon will get even more intense feedback on this issue.

It's true that you can replicate most of the functions of Amazon Echo Show with a smartphone or tablet. Apple's Siri and Google Now/Assistant both have the voice command and artificial intelligence capabilities to make it work. But the Show is preconfigured to do all those things in a convenient, seamless way. Overall, the Amazon Echo Show is a big breakthrough in Alexa technology. The touchscreen enables much more functionality, and brings us closer to the day when Alexa (or something like it) will be indispensable.

The last hundred or so years have brought us a lot of products at which people scoffed when they first heard of them. Granted, some were dumb, like the motorized twirling spaghetti fork. But there have been many cases where those things turned out to be quite popular and useful. I'd count the microwave, plastic bags and the automobile among them. Other innovations that were at first ridiculed include aspirin, radios, photocopiers, and personal computers.

Henry Ford is credited as having said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Regardless of whether he actually uttered those words, the notion is sound. Sometimes you don't know what you need until you have it.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 12 May 2017


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Most recent comments on "Can You Live Without This New Gadget?"

Posted by:

Diane
12 May 2017

Yes, I can live without this new gadget. I am very happy with my Samsung tablet and my homebuilt Windows 7 computer. I rely on the weather channel for the weather stats.


Posted by:

Bob
12 May 2017

I too will get by with my LG Tablet feeding mobile data to My PCLinuxOS system with Win 7 off line on another drive. At 82 I spent most of yesterday gardening and enjoying Spring up here along the Ottawa River. I may buy one on my death bed so that I can keep on a form of living that I am not interest in now.


Posted by:

dave
12 May 2017

Looks like Alexa is getting close to being a gadget I'd buy and give to my sister also. Always on weather and the video calling are features we'd like.


Posted by:

John T
12 May 2017

Yes I can live with out this. Can only imagine its cost but then the expense of upgrades to the house to be able to have it communicate with lights, doors, etc...... I also cut the cable cord over 2 years ago and have not looked back. I get some 25 HD digital channels over the air and can get my local weather free! I do maintain a high speed cable internet so I also steam movies (Netflix) and the bottom tier of Sling-TV package. And all this is over $100 cheaper than when I had cable.


Posted by:

BobD
12 May 2017

The electric twirling spaghetti fork is available on Amazon, of course. But you have to hurry!
From the Hog Wild site: "This item is discontinued. We will attempt to find one."
http://hogwildtoys.shptron.com/p/twirling-spaghetti-fork


Posted by:

Dale
12 May 2017

I can think of no reason to get this gadget. Count me out.


Posted by:

Brian
12 May 2017

Meh. Like a prior poster, I, too, can live without this device. At least they didn't price it too outrageously, given the lack of "killer" new functionality.


Posted by:

Mary
12 May 2017

I can definitely live without this. I'm a single senior who doesn't need yet another gadget that can be hacked. Besides, I have an old-fashioned weather device. I stick my head out the front door and look. As far as sport scores, I can wait for the evening news on TV to get caught up.


Posted by:

SysOp404
12 May 2017

My needs are well-served by a notebook computer and iPad Mini (which replaced my iPhone). Personally, I'll take a pass on things like this, (smart watches and other niche-tech, searching for purpose to exist). However, I won't deny others their fun. So, by all means... go fer' it!

As a long-time computer troubleshooter, I generally look past IoT, to purchase non-networked items which perform to my expectations. Am no doubt, disappointing some of the marketing genius' ideas of what I should want.


Posted by:

Graham
12 May 2017

Yes, I can live without it, the world has gone mad, to many tech items without any real purpose.


Posted by:

Laurie
12 May 2017

I suppose I differ from many of the posters to this site in that I actually enjoy the convenience of many of the devices described as "niche" devices. For example, I actually use smart watches and find them quite useful in my day to day life, particularly for work. Several of my co-workers feel the same way. As for Alexa, I currently own and enjoy using an Amazon Echo. I don't know if I will purchase the visual version or not, but I can see the usefulness. Currently, on the Echo, you can link multiple accounts by using the Household Profile feature. I believe this feature would also be available on the Show, as it is using Alexa technology. While it is not completely discrete in its execution, it does allow multiple users to switch between accounts.


Posted by:

RandiO
12 May 2017

I guess it may be about time that I crawl out of my cave, give up my 21Volume Encyclopedia Britannica, join the 21st Century advanced human gene pool and buy this gadget. Could it be that Borg was right all along and resistance is truly futile?


Posted by:

Bob
12 May 2017

When I want o know how the weather is I look out my window


Posted by:

Darcetha
12 May 2017

Right now, I have no use for this type of gadget.


Posted by:

Bob K
13 May 2017


Not only can I live without this gadget, I can live forever without Amazon. Hardly ever, is Amazon the least expensive.


Posted by:

Monique
13 May 2017

I sure can live without that gadget!


Posted by:

PeteFior
13 May 2017

This new "Echo Show" reminds me of all the silly gadgets in the hilarious, classic French, Jacques Tati film, "Mon Oncle". The family it portrayed was so obsessed with their ultra modern (50's) home that their lives had become sterile and devoid of plain old-fashioned fun.

I'm newly afraid that this new "wave" of gadgetry is moving people even further apart by stifling personal interaction and the full enjoyment of the simple pleasures in life! Such a pity!


Posted by:

Jay R
15 May 2017

More first world problems. At least, this one is solvable. At my age, I would probably forget the question by the time I heard the answer. Geezer Squad 1


Posted by:

Fran
16 May 2017

I can certainly live without this gadget.
If I want the weather, I say "Hey Siri, what's the weather forecast?" and she answers instantly - and usually with a chart as well. And sometimes an amusing comment!


Posted by:

Stephe
17 May 2017

Yes, I too can live without it...


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