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Gadget of the Week - Amazon Echo Show

Gadget of the Week - Amazon Echo Show (Source: amazon.com))

If you’ve ever taken a screenwriting class, then you know that one of the key pieces of advice is to always “show,” rather than “tell.” Well, apparently the creative gurus at Amazon have been dropping in on a seminar or two, because their newest version of the Echo promises to let users show and tell – thanks to a major design move that could completely revolutionize the digital assistant marketplace.

The Amazon Echo Show was unveiled in early May and is set to start shipping on June 28. And you’ve got to see it to believe it… Mostly because, unlike with previous iterations of the Echo, there really is something to see here. Instead of a portable little cylinder, the Show is a wide, square tablet, boasting an enormous, seven-inch touchscreen display on the upper half of the unit.

The addition of that screen offers up a ton of new functions that were previously unavailable using Echo devices; users can now use Amazon’s personal helper, Alexa, to watch videos on YouTube or Amazon Video; to see their playlists on Spotify; to pull up and display pictures from an online library; to quickly and easily control or monitor their smart home appliances; or to get a visual weather report or news story in an instant.

Even more intriguing is Amazon’s emphasis on Alexa Calling, a new feature that turns your Echo Show into an incredibly handy tool for video and voice calls. As of right now, there isn’t Skype functionality, but users can reach out to other Echo fans with the Alexa app, as well as a fascinating feature called “Drop In,” which, as TechCrunch explains, “lets you make a call to someone without them even answering the phone first.” The recipient can then reject the call, or switch to audio-only mode.

“Think of it,” TechCrunch notes,

“as the 21st century tech equivalent of someone coming to your house and either peeking through the front window as they’re knocking, or maybe just walking straight in, 1970s sitcom-style…

Examples of usage can include checking in on elderly relatives, or letting your family in another room know it’s time for dinner — or perhaps making sure you kid is really doing homework and not watching YouTube. Let’s see how people use it as it rolls out.”

As for the quality of those video and phone calls – we haven’t gotten our hands on an Echo Show yet, but USA Today notes that the device features a five megapixel camera and “takes advantage of an 8-microphone array, noise cancellation and so-called beam-forming tech;” the Show also boasts dual two-inch speakers, which USA Today describes as “a step up from the Echo speakers” and “better tuned for playing music.”

Looking to get really see what the Echo Show can do? You can preorder one now for $230; Amazon is also, at the time of this writing, holding a sale that knocks $100 off the price if you order two Shows together, making it easier to give one to a family member or stage them in multiple parts of your home.

We can't wait to get our hands - and eyes and ears - on an Echo Show! In the meantime, we're eager to hear about the gadgets and apps that are on your radar right now. Feel free to let us know what we should check out on Facebook and Twitter!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).