Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 December 2021
Let's get the good stuff out the way, as there isn't much of it.
The speaker is decent, and packs a punch for the size and price of the unit. Turn down the bass a bit though as it distorts easily at high volume. The screen is clear and bright, and the unit itself feels well "screwed together".
And now to the reasons I'm returning this item:
I got this during a Black Friday promotion, for £40. At that price it's a lackluster product which *just about* gets the job done, but never with any haste or to a high standard. As I type this review. It's £75, where I would have felt downright ripped off if I paid that.
My main priorities were to have tight integration with my Ring Doorbell and for music listening whilst I worked. I'm not really all that bothered about having a "digital assistant" in my life: I'm a bit too old school for that. Things like reminders, calendars, news etc... I can take it or leave it, but it just feels like yet another thing to set up and sync.
So anyway, let's get started: I pair this with my Ring account. I want to get notifications when my doorbell detects movement. Great! it can do that, "Motion is detected at Front Door" or suchlike is read out on the screen. But that's OBVIOUSLY not what I wanted, what I REALLY want is for the screen to switch over to the camera view which seems pretty straightforward to me and I have no idea why it's not an automatic thing. Nope. Can't do that. I find a tutorial online which helps you set up a "skill" for this, but this barely works: The echo will say "Okay" and then load up the screen, but with some doorbells this can cause the doorbell to freeze and not actually ring if the button is pressed. So unless I'm in the room with the Echo Show then it's a deal breaker.
Oh, and the video feed will stay on the Echo until you dismiss it. There is no way to tell it to show for 20 seconds and then disappear. So you may as well not bother will the skill and just turn on the feature for switching to the video when someone actually presses the doorbell instead of for a motion alter. Although that barely works anyway, more on that in a moment.
I try to listen to music. Apple Music links okay, great. I can tell it to "play music" but getting it to play a specific playlist proved to be impossible. Alexa just didn't understand what I wanted. I could play an artist, I could play a song by an artist, but I could not play a playlist I had set up. It just wouldn't work. Bear in mind you cannot select a playlist on this thing, despite it being a touchscreen; it's voice or nothing. That's your choice. If Alexa doesn't understand you, you're out of luck and there is nothing you can do about it.
When listening to music, at the bottom of the screen you'd expect to see controls to skip, pause and whatnot. That is there but it's hidden behind an INSANELY ANNOYING "Try Saying Alexa, play the love story interactive book" (or suchlike). This text actually covers up the controls. There is a button to the right which gets rid of the message and gives you back the controls, but it's only there for the rest of the song. As soon as the next song starts, it puts back the advertisement (and yes folks, this IS an advertisement) and you have to press the button again to actually be able to have quick access to music controls. If you finally obey and say the phrase it's telling you to "try out", then the text doesn't disappear, it's still there when you return, even if you decide you don't want this pointless "feature", there is absolutely no way to turn it off. None. It's something which infests every part of the device. Look at the screenshots on this product page and you'll see the text along the bottom third of the screen. You CANNOT get rid of this. Amazon wants to advertise to you even when you've fully paid for the product. This is utterly inexcusable and is one of the main reasons I'm returning the product.
Oh, and when I actually tried the phrase it suggested, I could hear my music over the top of the "interactive story". So not only was it painfully annoying to have this on the screen the entire time, it actually didn't work properly when I finally caved in and tried to do the thing I was insisting that I try.
Strike Three. We're done.
YouTube support? Forget it. There isn't any. You can run the web browser ("Alexa, Open Silk") and you can then login to YouTube from there. But it's slow. Very slow. An this belays the poor technical specifications of the device. I'm expecting that at some point in the future this will simply no longer work. The button to maximize the video is very difficult to press. Once it "gets going", it's fine. Until something happens, such as your doorbell being pressed. At which point Alexa tried to say something, closed the browser, opened it again but with the video paused, and never actually showed the video feed of the front door. Pretty poor. I don't care about the politics and whatever little spat you and Google have going on, it's not my concern, just make good products and support features and apps that people want to use. It's not much to ask.
"Alexa, Show Front Door".... Wait... Wait... Wait... Finally loads. Actually quicker to walk to the front door then wait for the video feed to finally load. This is probably an issue with Ring, but given Amazon own them now it's not really excusable. And you can tell it's not all network... the device is trying, and struggling to even start the app, let alone actually display the video feed. I'm fully expecting this will get worse with time when various "updates" occur and add more features that nobody wanted or asked for.
Pocket Casts... Works... But you have to add whatever podcast you want into the "Up Next" list otherwise you're simply not listening to it. A bit rubbish.
I say "Alexa, turn off the screen". She turns off the screen. At some point, she turns back on the screen, but I did not tell her to do so and no events happened which would have caused this. The screen was just suddenly on, for no discernible reason. This happened multiple times and was sometimes after a few minutes, and sometimes several hours.
There is a news feed thing which kicks on as a screensaver. Looks good and professional actually. Oh, you don't like sports? Tough luck, you're reading news about sports anyway. Want to customize the feed a little and only show subjects you have an interest in? Nope. You can't do that... Seriously? Yes, seriously.
The product is clearly designed to be controlled by your voice, and that's okay, but the touch interface *will* be used. It is, after all, a small device, you are likely to have it by your bedside table, on the desk with your computer, in the kitchen... You'll never be far away from it, and you will, from time to time, just want to use the touch controls because you'd hope it was just easier. Expect a noticeable amount of lag, controls which are difficult to find, and a generally not well thought out experience on this one. For £40? Meh, sure, whatever, it's a cheap Android based device. For £75? No. Not even once.
This feels... unfinished. And given it's age and supposed maturity of the product and the software, you'd expect it to be better than this. I'm somewhat disappointed. For £40 I almost kept it, but I really did feel it didn't do a good job for what I actually wanted it for in the first place.
Others do like this product. So be it. It's not for me and this review is just my opinion, take it or leave it. From a company like Amazon, I expected better, and I was disappointed.