Echo Show 15 – perfect for Amazon Alexa families (review)
The Amazon Alexa Echo Show 15 is a 15.6” picture frame style 1920 x 1080, 16:9, portrait or landscape IPS/LCD screen with Amazon Alexa smarts, a camera and dual 1.6” landscape speakers. It is for Alexa households.
Why that caveat? There are two main contenders for smart speakers – Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa (Siri, Bixby, and Cortana do not really get a look in). We won’t go into the relative merits of the Amazon or Google ecosystem here because we suspect you have already made that decision and have opted for one camp – you really cannot be in both. Read our guide Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa – the battle of the smart assistants.
Echo Show 15
|Price||$399 with free local delivery|
|Company||Amazon is an American multinational conglomerate that focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. It is one of the Big Five companies in the U.S. information technology industry, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook.|
|More||Cybershack Amazon news and reviews|
First impression – the mother of all smart speaker displays
15.6” screen in a picture frame measuring 401.3 x 251 x 35.5 (W/H/D) x 2.215kg.
It is pretty thick, so you will have to mount it. It can be wall-mounted (bracket and wall plugs provided) or stand-mounted:
- Sanus Tilt Stand ($49.95). The stand requires you to select either portrait or landscape (no rotation) as it screws to the Echo Show 15
- Tilt/swivel stand ($59.95) that may suit your needs better
There is an obvious O-hole camera on the top left of the frame (not in the screen) with a physical privacy shutter, mic on/off and +/- volume buttons on the top.
It has an 18V/1.67A/30W wall charger with a 1.5m plug cable (1.8m extension cable $19.95) that goes into a recess on the back. You must consider this when selecting a mount style or wall placement; otherwise, you could see the cream cable hanging down to the power point.
Download the Alexa app for Android or iOS – or you can just use the Echo Show’s initial setup. You need an Amazon shopping account or a paid Amazon Prime Account to log in. The latter costs $6.99 a month ($59 per year) and includes Prime Video and Prime Music.
Once you have that, it guides you through setting up profiles (so it can recognise you or other family members and facial recognition – not compulsory), the type of home screen, personal calendars, reminders, events, Widgets (on the home screen) and more. You can even voice shop. The more you personalise, the more Amazon knows about you and adds to your profile.
Select the screen saver – your photos (max 5GB free uploaded to Amazon Photos), Seasonal, Nature or Travel photos curated by Amazon.
There are four far-field mics – two on top and two on the left side. Again, if you are wall mounting, leave sufficient room for the mics to be effective. We found the maximum distance was about 5 metres.
Video Apps and quality
Video apps include Amazon Prime, Netflix, YouTube, Bing, TikTok, ABC iView (feature reduced) and Red Bull TV. That’s it – and there is no word if Amazon will add more (question at launch). It needs all Australian digital channels to be really useful as a video screen.
The screen is 1920 x 1080p SDR and not overly bright – we measured at 275 nits (maximum) which is OK for indoor use but looks washed out in sunny rooms. It does not have HDR, and images tend to look a little dark.
Music Apps and sound
Music is limited to Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify. The maximum volume is 80 dB. It sounds OK with some mid-bass (building), almost flat (good) high-bass, strong and flat mid and reasonable if a little choppy, treble.
It is a ‘warm and sweet’ sound signature – pretty good for a smart speaker. The sound stage is (stereo), and it is just a little wider than the speaker. Of course, that will vary if you wall or stand mount it.
You can read more about how we test, including testing your speakers – How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide.
Widgets display the latest content (including many ads) from Alexa. Select from Widgets like Sticky Notes, Calendar and Reminders, Shopping List, etc. Widgets can be added, removed, and rearranged. You can display up to 10 Widgets in your Widget Panel and six on the home screen.
Smart Home hub
If you have Alexa compatible Smart Home devices like lights, switches, cameras, etc., you can control them via the Smart Home menu. You can cast these to Echo visual displays, Amazon FireTV stick or tablet.
It uses a Chrome-based Amazon Silk browser (voice and touch-activated) and Bing search engine, although you can change that to Google, DuckDuck Go etc. Remember that there is no privacy in web searches and although you can turn on ‘do not track’. Simply ask Alexa to open Silk.
There is a brief setup guide, but there is no manual. You can access FAQs, and we could not find any way to access real-person support.
You can connect a BT device like a smartphone to the Echo Show and send music to it. Or you can connect BT headphones or speakers and cast to them. You cannot cast video content.
It connects to Wi-Fi N 2.4 or 5Ghz bands for content delivery. It works with any Alexa speaker (Amazon or otherwise) as part of a multi-room speaker setup.
Camera and shutter
It is a 5MP fixed infinity focus with about an 85° field of view (two people side by side). Colours are OK, but without AI, it needs reasonable light levels to work well. It can also recognise registered people and use their profile. It lacks any auto-tracking or framing as on the Echo Show 10.
At idle, screen-on, it consumes 10W and playing Amazon Prime movies; it gets up close to 15W. Its power use is negligible.
The screen is a fingerprint magnet
Ensure you have a microfibre cleaning cloth, as many will use touch. Touch response is not quite as instant as we like.
CyberShack’s view – should you buy the Amazon Echo Show 15?
Only if you have invested in the Amazon Echo/Prime ecosystem. While I would prefer to see more video, streaming channels and possibly a brighter screen for video content, it is a well-designed mark 1 device.
Mounting is the prime issue, and the tilt/rotate stand is the best option.
Amazon Alexa Echo Show 15$399 plus a stand
- Only for those invested in Amazon Alexa
- Decent warm and sweet signature for pleasant music listening
- Large 15.6” screen with lots of real estate
- Optional personal video profiles
- Landscape or portrait modes but its best as 16:9 landscape
- 5MP camera is not very good - No framing or tracking
- Mounting issues – get an optional stand at extra cost
- Lack of Australian digital TV channels
- Be aware of privacy issues associated with smart speakers