Amazon.com Inc. today launched a new version of its Echo smart home speaker that includes a screen for the first time.
The Echo Show features a seven-inch screen that can visually summon answers to verbal questions, providing information such as e-commerce search results in a more digestible fashion, along with the ability to make Internet phone calls with added support for video.
The device, available June 28, will cost $229.99. It’s claimed to have been in beta testing with Amazon employees for a few months. An image of the alleged new Echo (pictured), which was claimed to have been found on Amazon’s servers, was widely distributed at the weekend and now appears to be accurate.
Amazon described the device this way:
“Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, and more. All hands-free—just ask.”
Amazon’s move to launch an Echo smart home device with a screen comes at a time where the e-commerce giant is facing stiff competition in the nascent market for such devices, though it’s expected to hold nearly a 71 percent share of the U.S. market this year. Google Inc.’s Home smart speaker is Amazon’s biggest competitor, but others look set to enter the market. A report earlier this month claimed that Apple Inc. will join the field with its own take on a smart speaker powered by Siri, the “intelligent assistant” that can be found on iPhones, iPads and more recently Apple computers running macOS.
Never complacent, Amazon has continued to evolve its Alexa-powered initial offering, recently launching a new Echo version that includes a camera that can take pictures and video and even provide styling advice. The Amazon Echo Look features a depth-sensing camera, LED lighting and computer vision-based background blurring that allows users take pictures or videos of what they are wearing.
The Look, along with the forthcoming Show, will give Amazon the widest range of smart home devices on the market, complete with multiple price points, allowing them to market to both cost-sensitive consumers as well as those who can afford something extra.