$230 device makes video calls, shows smart camera feeds, and helps you shop.
Update: Amazon has officially announced the Echo Show, a new version of its Echo speaker that features a seven-inch touchscreen and voice assistant Alexa. It's available for pre-order in the US for $230 and ships on June 28. Unfortunately, while the existing Echo range is available in the UK and Germany, Amazon currently has "nothing to share outside the US" in terms of availability.
Amazon is pitching the Echo Show as a central home hub through which users can watch video flash briefings, browse YouTube, control smart home devices, and create visual to-do and shopping lists with the aid of Alexa. Users will also be able to make video and voice calls to friends that have an Echo or the Alexa app on a smartphone via a 5MP camera.
The Echo Show is compatible with the usual array of Alexa skills that allow users to control smart home devices like Philips Hue bulbs or Nest thermostats, but will also be compatible with smart cameras from Ring and Arlo. Users can ask Alexa to display a live feed from a particular room in the house, with the images popping up directly on the Echo Show's screen.
Like Amazon's existing Echo speakers, the Echo Show features eight microphones and far-field beam-forming technology for voice recognition, which sit on the top of the oddly kiosk-like device. Audio quality, a weak point of the Echo, has been given an upgrade courtesy of a pair of Dolby-powered two-inch speakers.
The Echo Show is powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor, and features support for 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz wi-fi, as well as an as yet unspecified version of Bluetooth. No OS is specified either, but it's likely to be some form of Amazon's Android-based Fire OS, which is used across its range of Fire tablets.
Like with the other Echo devices, Amazon is offering a discount if you buy more than one. Just enter the code "Show2Pack" to get a $100 off a pair.
Amazon will reportedly launch a new version of its Echo speaker that features a seven-inch touchscreen and the ability to make Internet-based telephone calls.
The new device, dubbed the Amazon Echo Show, will be powered by Amazon's AI assistant Alexa, and—in addition to making phone calls and video calls—will also allow display shopping results from voice services.
While Amazon is yet to officially unveil the Echo Show, a report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that it could launch later on Tuesday. Anonymous sources have indicated to the WSJ that the Echo Show is expected to cost more than $200/£200. The current Echo is priced at $150/£150, with the smaller Echo Dot—which ditches the large speaker for a 3.5mm audio jack—costs $50/£50.
Purported images of the Echo Show have also appeared online courtesy of serial-leaker Evleaks. They show a slanted, workman-like box that contains a large touchscreen with a speaker grille underneath. If the images prove accurate, the Echo Show's mundane design would be an odd choice for a device that's intended to be left on display and frequently accessed.
Should the Echo Show be released imminently, it will be the second Echo device unveiled by Amazon this year. In April, the online retail giant took the wraps off the Echo Look, a "hands-free camera and style assistant" that takes full-length photos and provides fashion advice to customers. Currently, the $200/£200 Echo Look is available on an invite-only basis to Amazon customers in the US.
Amazon has faced increasingly stiff competition in the digital assistant market, with Microsoft working on physical homes for Cortana, and Google having already launched Google Home in late 2016. Apple is also rumoured to be working on its own speaker-like device for Siri. However, Amazon has benefited from being first to market, with Alexa being widely supported across a range of smart home devices, as well as services like Uber. Alexa dominated this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
In addition to the new Echo, the WSJ reported that Amazon will roll out a range of telephone services for Echo devices in the next few weeks. These will apparently allow customers to use Echo devices like an intercom system, with external voice calls and video calls expected to arrive at a later date.