Amazon is adding to its range of smart displays and unveiling the Echo Show 15. This new assistant with a screen has a 15.6-inch slab, which makes it the largest in our comparison.
Amazon has entered the smart display sector in 2019. Today, the firm unveils its fifth model of assistant with screen, the Echo Show 15. The latter is equipped with a 15.6-inch slab, making it the largest on the market. It also differs from its predecessors by its installation: supplied with a wall mount, the Show 15 is fixed to the wall to be accessible by the whole family since it intends to impose itself as "the digital heart of the home", according to Amazon. Of course, it is Alexa, the firm's virtual assistant, which will answer voice requests.
Beware, this is not a PC screen! When you take the Amazon Echo Show 15 out of its box, you are first surprised by its weight (2.2 kg), but especially by its size. With a height of 252 mm and a width of 402 mm for a 15.6-inch screen, this smart display is not discreet. It even holds the record for the largest on the market, that's saying something!
Delivered with a wall mount, the Echo Show 15 has been designed to be fixed to the wall so that it is available for the whole family. The big drawback is that you have to drill four holes in the wall of your home to install the smart display, which could put off many tenants. It should be noted that a tilting stand (sold separately) can be purchased if you want to place the device on a piece of furniture instead.
In any case, you can place the Echo Show 15 in landscape or portrait mode, as you wish, the image adapting when you rotate the device.
Once installed, the Echo Show 15 must be plugged into a power outlet since it does not run on batteries, unlike a Facebook Portal Go for example. So be careful to fix the smart display near an outlet, as the power cord is not very long.
With its large touchscreen, the Echo Show 15 makes do with three physical buttons: two to adjust the volume manually and one to disable the microphone. Next to these buttons, a cover allows you to physically disable the camera.
The 5MP camera is placed in a corner of the device, in the top left or top right depending on the orientation chosen. It allows monitoring a part of the home from the Amazon app and a smartphone, as was already the case on the Echo Show 10. The user can also activate a microphone and a speaker to address the members of the household if he wants. We only regret that this camera does not have an infrared mode to film at night.
Features and applications
Of course, once the Echo Show 15 is installed, you need to connect it to the home's wifi network, then associate an Amazon account. Beware, without login, it is impossible to go further in the configuration of the device! Each member of the household can then create a personalized profile in order to separate their data: appointments, photos, latest listening, etc. These will automatically reappear at each new use thanks to the facial recognition. Indeed, the camera of the Echo Show 15 detects and recognizes the users who present themselves to it, then opens the associated profile.
The home screen of the smart display can display photos like a digital frame on one side, and widgets on the other. The latter, nine in number, are mainly centered around the organization of the house: shopping list, tasks, calendar, reminder or reminders are among others proposed. We appreciate this feature that allows you to easily organize a busy week, but also that of the entire household.
By swiping the screen from top to bottom, you can access certain features such as Music, Alarms, Connected Home, Routines or Video. The latter gives access to the various native video contents of the smart display, such as Prime Video, but also Netflix, Arte or Molotov. It is also possible to access YouTube, Bing or TikTok, but it will be necessary to go through the browser.
In addition, the owner of an Echo Show 15 can listen to music via Spotify or Deezer (provided he or she has downloaded the skill on the app beforehand) or any radio station. On the TV side, the smart display provides the two live news channels BFM and LCI, but for the rest you'll have to go through Molotov.
The big weakness of the Amazon Echo Show 15 lies, in our opinion, in its "communication" function since there is only one solution to call a person without the Amazon Alexa app, and its use is far from obvious. It is Skype that you have to link to Alexa, then use voice commands to call someone. We would have preferred an application directly accessible on the smart display. Other VoIP services such as Zoom and Google Meet are not available at all. In short, we don't recommend getting the Echo Show 15 simply for video conferencing.
The Echo Show 15 is most useful in the kitchen, where it offers many recipes with Joy, Marmiton or Cuisine Actuelle. A step-by-step display is also provided for the recipes, which you can of course save in order to find them in your preferences later.
As we mentioned in a lab news, the quality of the 15.6-inch panel is not quite up to our expectations.
Some colors don't come out quite as they should. In particular, the blue is too pale and the green slightly yellowish. The delta E of 6 is slightly too high.
We were also a little disappointed by the brightness of the panel which does not exceed 360 cd/m². This may not be enough to maintain good readability in a too bright environment, despite a correct reflectance rate of 46%.
The Echo Show 15 is a real step backwards compared to the Echo Show 10 in terms of sound quality. The latter benefits from a large rotating base that allows it to carry a generous acoustic package, which is responsible for its excellent audio performance. The Echo Show 15, on the other hand, returns to a much more traditional design, and much less effective it must be said, with speakers placed at the back of the screen and directed towards the sides.
With such a placement, the sound experience is highly dependent on the listening position. When the Echo Show 15 is positioned on its base and you face the screen, the sound seems blunt and lacks definition, especially because the highs are far too discreet. They are obviously much more perceptible when you are on the side, in the broadcasting angle of one of the speakers. However, the rendering is a little too aggressive and we inevitably lose part of the stereo signal. The Echo Show 15 is however a little more capable when it is hung on a wall, because it can thus help the latter to reverberate the highs.
Whatever the listening position and the positioning of the smart display, the Echo Show 15 is far too stingy with bass. The overall rendering clearly lacks warmth, a fault that must be tempered since the relatively thin design of the smart display prevents it from integrating an efficient system for reproducing bass. The distortion and the global precision remain relatively controlled as long as the volume does not exceed 60% of its maximum value. Beyond that, the distortion wakes up a little too much and the dynamics are then completely crushed.
In spite of these different problems, the Echo Show 15 reproduces voices fairly faithfully while highlighting them well. It's not enough to jump to the ceiling either, but the performance is commendable since the primary uses of a smart display are to interact with an assistant and to make calls.
Voice recognition works great when the Echo Show 15 is in a quiet room, with the onboard microphones capturing even the most complex commands. These same commands were also perfectly understood by the assistant when we were a few meters away, even without raising our voice. However, the device had a little more difficulty in identifying our voice when we turned our backs, but nothing dramatic.
The Echo Show 15 also does quite well in a busy environment, like a kitchen or living room with the TV on, at least when you're close by. Things get seriously tricky when you move a few feet away, as you have to raise your voice quite a bit for the smart display to even pick up the trigger word "Alexa". All of this applies to situations where the Echo Show 15 is playing music, even at maximum volume. In this case, the use of the voice assistant becomes problematic, because if Alexa manages by chance to understand the command given, the Echo Show 15 does not lower the volume of the music enough for the response to be perfectly intelligible from a distance.
Amazon wanted to stand out by providing its new smart display with a 15.6-inch screen, while the introduction of widgets allows you to take advantage of it to display various information. The Echo Show 15 obviously works with Alexa and will help well in the kitchen with step-by-step recipes. On the other hand, if it is possible to watch movies and other content from streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Molotov), the display quality is not optimal. The same can be said of the audio quality, also regretting the lack of third-party services for calls.