Amazon Echo Show 15 review: Designed to centralize smart home devices

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It’s time for me to come clean. While I’m fully on board with smart devices — I have WiFi-enabled lights, a smart thermostat, and plenty of other cutting-edge gadgets — I’ve never been swayed by the Amazon Echo devices in the past. As an Apple user, I didn’t feel the need to add an Alexa device to my kitchen because it felt more like a flashy new toy that would lose its appeal after a few days rather than a functional item that I couldn’t live without. So, when I was asked to try out the new Amazon Echo show 15(opens in a new tab) I decided to set aside my skepticism and approach it with an open mind. 

Surprisingly? I kinda like it. 


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What makes the Echo Show 15 unique

There are a few things that make the Echo Show 15 special, most of which revolve around the 15.6-inch Full HD smart display. Unlike previous models of the Amazon Echo Show, the Show 15 touts a convenient wall-mounted display that frees up precious counter space while creating a sleek, central hub for your smart home. 

Compared to previous models of the Echo Show, the Show 15’s screen size is definitely a plus — I tried the Echo Show 10, which has a much smaller screen that wasn’t super useful from across the kitchen. The Show 15 scales everything up without being too large or obnoxious — anything bigger and it would’ve felt like an extra TV in the room — and the 1.4-inch thickness of the display keeps it from being too bulky on the wall. 

echo show 15 resting on shelf

The screen is big enough to see from across the room, but not so big that it feels like an extra TV.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

What I liked about the Echo Show 15

Aside from the size, there were a few features I really liked about the Echo Show 15. I appreciated the nod toward privacy — it touts a sliding camera cover, as well as the option to turn off added features like Amazon Sidewalk — as well as the minimal, photo-frame design. It was also super easy to install straight out of the box, and — aside from needing to install a few lengthy updates — it wasn’t a very complicated process to get it connected to my WiFi and Amazon account.

While there are countless widgets and routines you can use with many of the Echo Show devices, I found myself gravitating toward using the Show 15 for recipes, reminders, and calendar alerts. I liked using it as part of my morning routine, and it was certainly helpful for keeping tabs on my busy schedule. Plus, I found that the Echo Show 15 was a little more “sensitive” to recognizing my voice compared to the Echo Show 10, which meant I didn’t feel like I had to yell at Alexa to get her to understand what I was saying.

I also loved creating a sound-detection routine that recognized my dog barking and played calming music for him whenever I was leaving the house — which surprisingly worked to settle him down. 

finger sliding camera cover

The physical camera cover offers added privacy.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

What I didn’t like about the Echo Show 15

Because I don’t have many Amazon devices throughout my home, the Echo Show 15 didn’t quite make as much sense for me. It definitely looks cool — and I could see it working perfectly as a “central hub” for someone who already has several Alexa-enabled devices throughout their home — but there were a few drawbacks that didn’t quite make sense for it to be a starter device for me. 

One, the speaker wasn’t as good as the Echo Show 10 — or my trusty Bluetooth speaker — so I didn’t use it for music, and when I tried to enable Alexa to play music throughout my house across both Echo Shows, there was a significant lag. The camera quality was also lacking, and the Show 15 was no match for the Show 10’s motion tracking. Plus, the Echo Show 15 glitched out a few more times than the Show 10, especially when it seemed to get confused. There were several times when I wasn’t able to get Alexa to return to the home screen without using the touchscreen to manually switch the display.

It also didn’t seem to recognize my husband’s voice as well as mine, and I didn’t like that I had to type all of my relevant passwords (for Spotify, Netflix, etc) onto the device itself versus being able to connect them in the Alexa app and go from there. The widgets also seemed to eat up a lot of real estate on the screen, and there wasn’t really an option to make them much smaller.

Personally, I was hoping the Show 15 would feel more like a fully functional tablet on my wall, but there were a few limitations that kept it from feeling truly robust. Sure, it was a cool device to play with, but there were little things like struggling to figure out how to change the recipe serving size on Allrecipes (a feature that is available on their website) that meant I would often “give up” trying to get Alexa to understand me and just use my phone. 

Plus, while the size and wall mounting kit definitely makes sense for someone who has a small kitchen — or wants to upgrade their main Amazon Echo device — living in an apartment meant I couldn’t mount the Echo Show 15 into my wall, so I’d have to purchase a tilt stand if I wanted it to live on my countertop. 

Is the Echo Show 15 worth it?

The Echo Show 15 wasn’t the perfect Alexa device for me, but I could definitely see why other people might love it. Compared to the bulkier size of the Echo Show 10, I really liked the idea of a wall-mounted display—something that would work perfectly in a busy household with kids — and it was pretty easy to use.

If you have a lot of Alexa-enabled devices, you might want to add the Echo Show 15(opens in a new tab) to your wishlist. It’s perfect for a cramped kitchen, and it makes for a really cool “smart hub” that the entire family can use and enjoy. However, if you’re looking for your first Echo device, you might want to stick with the Echo Show 10(opens in a new tab)

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