Amazon unveils its newest smart speaker, and this one has a touchscreen
Amazon has unveiled the latest member of its family of devices powered by its Alexa digital assistant. The new product introduced last Tuesday is called Echo Show and features a touchscreen.
Echo Show steps up efforts by Amazon to be part of the connected home and potentially create a market for a new kind of computing tool.
The new product will sell for $229 and ships starting June 28, Amazon's website says. It will include the features of its other Echo speakers along with video on a 7-inch touchscreen.
With Echo Show, customers can watch video and YouTube and see smart home cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists and more, wrote David Isbitski in a Web post. He is an Amazon developer and chief evangelist for Echo products. A company evangelist works in marketing to increase sales.
Echo Show Is Hot On The Heels Of Echo Look
Users will also be able to call or message others who have an Echo or the Alexa application.
Last month Amazon, the giant online retailer, began selling Echo Look. It includes the voice-activated assistant but with a camera, allowing Alexa to offer fashion advice.
Amazon's latest hardware offering comes after limited success with its Kindle and Fire tablets. It follows a failure of its Fire smartphones.
The new Echo Show "looks like a lot of other products that have been launched in the past," said Avi Greengart of Current Analysis. Greengart posted his comments on the Twitter website. "Unlike those, it will sell," he said.
Initial Reactions Are Positive
Ian Fogg of the research company IHS Markit also took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the new product. "What's most interesting about #Echo Show is the extent it is different & enhanced from simply a combination of Echo + Fire tablet."
Jan Dawson runs Jackdaw Research. His company does research on how people use wireless technology. He said the voice assistant adds features to the Alexa family by giving consumers a screen option.
"I don't think all voice assistants need to have screens, but Amazon is wise to give people the option," Dawson said. He wrote about the product in a website post.
Amazon is using its early lead in smart speakers as a strength to spread into other areas, Dawson said.
Not Winning Any Points In The Looks Department
However, Dawson echoed comments made by other observers that the Echo Show "isn't attractive."
"If there's one area where Amazon's various bits of hardware have always struggled, it's design," he said.
"There's no real consistency or style," he said. Dawson compared it to a miniature version of an old television.
Amazon has led in sales of smart speakers since 2014 when it introduced its first Echo. It responds to voice commands. Users can order goods, play music, control connected appliances and much more.
Amazon Has A Major Hold On Voice Assistant Market
A survey released last week by the research company eMarketer found Amazon's Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the U.S. voice assistant market. That compares with 23.8 percent for Google Home. Others including Lenovo, LG, Harman Kardon and Mattel have 5.6 percent of sales.
The report said 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant tool at least once a month this year. It is up 128.9 percent over last year.
Separately last Monday, Samsung-owned Harman Kardon announced the release of its new Invoke speaker. The device is powered by Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana and includes Skype for making calls.