When TCL introduced their 17″ Xess tablet earlier this year, it was meant to be a family communication hub ideal for the kitchen. It could be used by family members or roommates to leave notes and reminders for each other, and parents got the benefit of free Nickelodeon shows for their kids. But, family hub devices need to be a little smarter to fit into increasingly smarter homes. This week, TCL is introducing a new generation of the Xess tablet with Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, built in, enabling smart home voice controls.
It looks like TCL hasn’t made any changes to the Xess tablet outside of the addition of Alexa. It’s still got the same build with the large carrying handle on the back, which can function as a stand. It runs Android 5.1 with their own overlay, which is better suited for the large display. That display is still a 1080p 17.3″ screen.
It also has the same 1.5 GHz processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 9,600 mAh battery, plus quick charging. And, TCL is still throwing in a standalone camera that can be placed elsewhere in the home and monitored using Xess (ideal for use as a baby monitor). With JBL speakers, it’s not a bad little media machine, either.
But, when we looked at Xess in April, we weren’t convinced that it filled a need for anyone. That changes with Amazon Alexa, which has become the best voice assistant for managing smart home devices. Most major smart thermostats, locks, lights, and the like all work with Alexa now, and can be turned on or off or scheduled using natural voice commands. Putting that kind of convenience into Xess makes it a true smart home hub that can pull its weight in the kitchen (and it helps that TCL makes it easy to grab recipes, too).
Xess is still $500, although TCL says that’s just an introductory price. That’s not bad for a 1080p 17.3″ tablet, especially considering it comes with a standalone camera and now Amazon Alexa. We’re not seeing anything about Nickelodeon, though, so it seems like that might have been a short-term deal that’s already over. Xess is available now on Amazon.