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Amazon Gives Alexa a Display With the Echo Show

It was only a couple weeks ago that Amazon unveiled the Echo Look, an Alexa-enabled speaker with a camera and some fashion sense, so maybe you thought they would be done for a while. Far from it! Amazon is back at it this week with the Echo Show, the first Alexa speaker with a touchscreen.

The Show is a tabletop device with a thick base, a 7″ touchscreen, two 2″ Dolby-tuned stereo speakers, a 5 MP front camera, and eight microphones that work together to focus on your voice, even with background noise or if you’re far away. Just don’t call it a tablet — it doesn’t run Fire OS, or Android for that matter. Like all other Alexa devices, the Show can just be loaded up with Skills for smart home devices and use services like Spotify or Uber, in addition to the basics like voice searches and calendar reminders.

While it is possible to search for and call up YouTube videos using the Show (no Netflix or Hulu yet), the more intriguing part of the device involves communication. Amazon is using the Show to roll out their new calling and messaging feature. Anyone who has an Alexa device or the Alexa app installed on a smartphone or tablet can join a voice or video chat using Amazon’s new service. It makes for a simple, hands-free way to call close friends and family from wherever the Show is set up.

The Show can also be used as a monitor of sorts for babies and the elderly. As long as both sides have given their approval to the Drop In feature, one side can instantly initiate a video call (assuming the other person also has the Show). The call will be automatically answered, although the screen will be frosted for the first 10 seconds, just in case. It’s not going to be anything you’ll use with friends much, but it’s good for use as a baby monitor or to quickly check in on grandma or grandpa.

The Echo Show looks like a strong choice for extended families who want to keep in touch with each other in an easy, no-fuss, voice-controlled way. The fact that two Show units can be combined to form a functional baby or elderly monitor just makes it even more valuable. Only thing is, it’s still pretty pricey. The Amazon Echo Show costs $230, and will ship out on June 28.