When purchasing a display of any type, the first thing to consider is its size. And unless the screen moves, chances are the bigger it is, the better your experience will be. TV makers have gone big, smartphones (much to my chagrin) insist on doing this, and now it’s time for a newer category, smart displays, to step onto the big screen.
The Amazon Echo Show 15 isn’t just the largest Echo package yet, it has the largest screen you’ll easily find in any brand of smart display. The 15.6-inch screen is intended to be anchored and serves as a central organization hub for your household. With Alexa-powered widgets like shared calendars, shopping lists, to-do lists, and the ability to call family members and manage your other smart devices, there’s a lot of utility to take advantage of.
Navigating the content of the Echo Show 15 feels clunky at times, and some features are hard to discover, despite Amazon’s best efforts to fill the UI with tips. Different profiles of family members can be activated via facial recognition, but the transition is not always smooth. You’ll have to train your family to use the Echo Show 15 to really make it worthwhile. But if you’re walking the path of smart displays, the Echo Show 15 comes with a bigger screen and greater capabilities than the competition.
|Specifications at a glance: Amazon Echo Show 15|
|Screen||15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution|
|CPU||Amlogic Pop1 SoC with Amazon AZ2 neural edge processor|
|audio||2x 1.6-inch tweeters|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, RGB Ambient Light Sensor|
|Mate||15.8 x 9.9 x 1.4 in (402 x 252 x 35mm)|
|Weight||4.88 pounds (2.215 g)|
|Price (list price)||$250|
|Other benefits||Wall mount, mounting template, 4x screws and 4x anchors for optional mounting|
The bigger, more beautiful smart screen
The Echo Show 15 is about the largest smart display you can find. The 1920 x 1080 screen has a diagonal of 15.6 inches. That trumps the 10.1-inch Echo Show 10. The extra size has obvious benefits, such as easier navigation, the ability to view more on the screen at once, and make the Picture Frame feature more effective. But it does not come with a greater price. At the time of writing, the Echo Show 15 and Echo Show 10 are the same price
Meanwhile, the largest Facebook portal, the $300 Portal+, is just 14 inches, Google’s Nest Hub Max is 10 inches, and Lenovo has the 10.1-inch Smart Display 10″.
However, the Portal+ has a sharper resolution of 2160 x 1440. That all adds up to a greater pixel density for Facebook’s display (185.43 pixels per inch) over the Echo Show 15 (141.2 ppi). Of course, the Echo Show 15 also loses the ppi contest over smaller screens, like the Nest Hub Max (1280 x 800 for 150.94 ppi). A sharp display is important, as the Echo Show 15 offers access to streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu. Since you will mainly be touching and reading things, more screen real estate is better.
You can set the Echo Show 15 to adjust the brightness based on how much light is in the room. That’s not an uncommon feature. In fact, the Portal+ can adjust both brightness and color this way. I didn’t find the feature that useful, though, because the Echo Show 15 wouldn’t go beyond 50 percent brightness, even in a nearly pitch-black room.
Despite being a pretty hefty piece of hardware, the Echo Show 15 easily blended into my home’s aesthetic. Unlike other smart screens, it doesn’t look like a tablet glued to a wireless speaker. A black frame contrasts with the thick, yet stylish-looking white border of the screen, allowing the device to easily take on the role of a picture frame, painting or bulletin board. The design quickly made me fall in love with the Photo Frame feature, which allows you to display your photos or a carousel of themed images and/or paintings.
And by combining pleasing visuals with Alexa’s Nature Sounds ability, which plays peaceful sounds through the screen’s speakers, the Echo Show 15 added an unexpectedly calming atmosphere to its room.
Uniquely, the Echo Show 15 can sit or be mounted vertically or horizontally. Not everyone has a counter to place a smart display, and mounting it makes using facial recognition easier, as the camera needs to see the user at eye level. This makes it difficult to find the perfect mounting position (unless your family is all the same size). Plus, the Echo Show 15’s 5-foot cord may mean you need an extension cord.
If you don’t think the Echo Show 15 is worth the holes in your wall, you can use a stand instead, but you’ll have to pay an extra $30.