Amazon introduces the Echo Show, an Alexa device with a screen

Melba UnderwoodMay 10, 2017

As for Echo Show specifics, Amazon is using an array of eight microphones and two Dolby-powered speakers for audio input and output.

The market for voice-assisted speakers is small, but growing.

Amazon says the Alexa calling and messaging service is rolling out to the Echo, Echo Dot, and Alexa app for iOS and Android on Tuesday.

Echo Show is reminiscent of a miniature tabletop version of the futuristic voice responsive video walls from so many works of science fiction. You can now also make and place video and voice calls from all Echo devices, but this deserves to be explained in greater detail... Amazon also didn't reveal whether it will add Alexa Calling to other devices with Alexa integration, which include anything from TVs to fridges to vehicle dashboards. Amazon is envisioning a world where parents can ring up their children from a device that stays in one physical spot in their home, that someone working from home wouldn't have to lift a finger or take their eyes off their work to jump on a conference call. (Developers will be able to add visual components and direct video links to existing skills.) So you wont be able to run Amazon's own Fire OS apps, much less anything from the Google Play Store.

Just last week, we got our first glimpse at Amazon's touchscreen-enabled Echo they would soon announce. It also supports Bluetooth for streaming from the Echo Show to another speaker, should you prefer. They're directly based on Amazon's servers and connections.

Because the Echo can be used only as a speakerphone, it also is not likely to be used for private calls when others are present in a room.

Since previous year, hints that the new Echo might have a screen were already written about by publications like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, with the device allegedly being code-named "Knight".

"Putting a semi-permanent ambient device in the home that can make and receive video calls is an interesting evolution which should prove compelling", said Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson. The Echo Show has a 7-inch touchscreen and a front-facing camera. It's hard to imagine that Amazon hasn't designed Echo Show to always be beckoning in some way. You can then tell the company's Alexa digital assistant to answer or ignore it.

Considering how fast Amazon is moving these days, I fully expect them to do this, maybe with an AI acquisition and perhaps before the end of this year.

Still, many have struggled to catch up to Amazon.

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