Amazon has officially unveiled its latest Echo product: a touchscreen device with built-in Alexa called the Echo Show. The device was extensively leaked this week, but is now available to preorder from Amazon for $229.99.
The Show has the same basic capabilities as the regular, voice-only Echo (like setting timers and listening to music), but the built-in display adds plenty of new functionality. The Show’s screen will give users more information about their Alexa queries (displaying a full weather report or the steps in each recipe, for example), and can be used to play videos, including news briefings from the likes of CNN, and content from YouTube and Amazon Video.
As with most Amazon products, the Show also works best with the company’s own services. The screen can function as a digital photo frame by pulling pictures stored on Prime Photos, and when it’s playing songs from Amazon Music, it’ll put the lyrics up on-screen. Amazon says the device can also be connected to Wi-Fi-enabled security cameras, letting users check their video feed with commands like “Alexa, show me the front door.”
The most intriguing new feature, though, is access to video and voice calls. Anyone can make or receive a call through the Show if they have the Alexa app (there’s no support for Skype as of right now), and Amazon is also unveiling a new feature called “Drop In,” which lets designated friends and family make a call at any time. The receiver then has a 10-second window to reject a Drop In call or switch it to audio-only. Amazon says it imagines this feature will only be used in a small number of scenarios — like checking in on an elderly relative.
The Show comes with microphone technology similar to the regular Echo, although it has eight microphones instead of seven. The screen itself is seven inches across; set into the frame are a front-facing five-megapixel camera and a pair of two-inch speakers. The new Show will start shipping to customers on June 28th, and Amazon is currently running a promotion where customers can buy two for $360.