Amazon has increased the scope of its Echo range by introducing two new members of the family - the Echo Show and the Echo Look. We take a look at what these latest devices have to offer and how they compare to the original Echo.
For another contrast read our comparison review of the Amazon Echo v Google Home.
Why are they all called Echo?
The Echo name indicates a device that includes Amazon’s voice control interface Alexa.
The first Echo to launch was a tall, standalone speaker that can answer questions, play music, audiobooks, control your smart home devices, quickly order items from Amazon, or generally behave like a standard Bluetooth speaker for your phone or tablet.
The Echo was shortly followed by the Amazon Echo Dot, which features the same technology as its bigger brother, but comes with just a small speaker rather than the room-filling one found in the Echo.
One of the main advantages of the Echo range is that Alexa’s capabilities can be constantly expanded by the downloading of ‘skills’. These are software additions from different companies that allow users to order cabs (Uber), food (Just Eat), check train times (National Rail), and a wide range of other useful tasks.
See our guide on How to setup Amazon Echo and Alexa for more details on how easy it is to get started with Amazon's smart device.
What are the main differences between the Echo, Show, and Look?
As we’ve described above, the Echo is a tall, cylindrical hands-free speaker with which you can interact via the voice control system. At the moment you can buy the Echo in either black or white from Amazon for £149.99.
Its design is smart and modern, with the unit coming in either white or black options. The Echo is also bereft of any obvious controls, with only mute and power on buttons on the top on the device.
Amazon Echo Show
The Echo Show’s main differentiator is that it includes a 7in touchscreen display. In terms of capabilities it can do everything that the Echo does, and the built-in speaker system should be a match for that of its display-less brethren.
The Amazon Echo Show is now available to buy in the UK for £199 and like the Echo offers a choice of black or white versions.
The screen opens up new avenues for the Echo Show, especially as it allows video and audio calls to other Echo Show owners, or anyone using the Alexa app on their smartphone.
Request a recipe tutorial video from YouTube and it will be displayed on the screen, plus if you’re an Amazon Music subscriber then you’ll also be able to see lyrics to songs as they play on the device. Great for karaoke.
News briefs are accompanied by video footage, as is the weather, calendar appointments, or timers that you might request if you’re cooking something in the kitchen.
If you have a compatible camera in your kid’s room then you can even monitor it via the Echo Show.
Amazon Echo Look
The other new entry to the Echo family is the Echo Look. This is marketed by Amazon as a kind of personal stylist for those who put a high priority on fashion.
It costs $199 from Amazon and, like the Show, isn't available in the UK.
As the Look includes a high quality camera, the idea is that you put on outfits you’re considering, then use the Look to film a short video from all angles so you can see if it’s -flattering or not.
Images of two outfits can also be submitted to a feature called Style Check which will analyse both to see which looks best on you, with the decision being based on colours, fit, and current trends.
While this might seem like a niche market for such a device, the Look can also be used as a normal Echo device.
Ask it questions and Alexa will search the internet for answers, Skills are available, there’s a built in speaker - although more akin to the Echo Dot than the bigger devices - and the camera can be used for him security rather than fashion.
Who are they for?
While the three devices share a common engine and interface, they do seem to appeal to different markets.
The Echo probably has the most appeal for music fans, podcast listeners, or people who just want to find simple information quickly. Its aural nature makes it an unobtrusive device that can be placed almost anywhere in a home without drawing too much attention.
The Echo's speakers are decent and integration with Spotify and Audible make it a great companion for general entertainment while you work on boring tasks such as cleaning the house or washing the dishes.
The Echo Show is an interesting evolution on the whole Echo theme. Many of the features Amazon have promoted seem to suggest it would be most at home in the kitchen.
A 7in screen means users will need to be near to the device if they want to read any displayed information clearly. This would make it perfect for recipes, cooking videos, or simply playing videos or music while you prepare dinner.
The video-calling feature is a bonus that could prove popular, but again that screen is small when compared to something like an iPad that can do the same things.
Finally there’s the Echo Look. It’s a bit of a puzzler this one. Yes it’s a normal Echo device, with all the advantages that brings, but the fashion angle is going to be an interesting one to watch.
We’re not entirely sure that this will be enough to sell the Echo Look to a wide audience, especially as people already have mirrors in their houses. But if Alexa can answer the question ‘does my bum look big in this’ without causing a major confrontation then we’ll certainly doff our caps in admiration.
When will they be available in the UK?
The Echo is already a firm fixture on the Amazon UK website, but details are still a bit scarce on when the other two devices will be released on this side of the Atlantic.
When Amazon originally launched the Echo it was over a year before it arrived on this side of the pond, so it might be a long wait.
To keep you up to date we’ve created Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Look news pages where we’ll be posting the latest rumours and details on pricing and availability. So keep checking back and you’ll be one of the first to know when the pre-orders open.