Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Amazon Announces $229 Box With Screen

James Vincent, the Verge:

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 pre-order 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.

This sounds promising, right? Kind of like having an iPad Mini that’s always on and features a way better version of Siri. Only one small problem: it’s hideous. Nostalgia may be a powerful force, but I don’t imagine many people are nostalgic for a mid-1980s appliance. It weighs a kilo, so it’s meant to sit in one place all the time, and that place is probably going to be somewhere in the open because of the kind of device this is. People will see it.

I’m not saying that it should look like an iMac, either. In fact, I’m glad it isn’t yet another product aping Apple’s design language, because I think there are plenty of other ways to design consumer electronics. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be ugly.

This might sell well; it might sell poorly. I don’t know, and I wouldn’t want to prognosticate failure simply because the Echo Show doesn’t look good. But I wouldn’t buy this iteration of it.

Update: Perhaps the biggest Amazon news of today wasn’t the Echo Show, but the rebuilt Alexa app that is going head-to-head with iMessage and FaceTime.