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Echo Show 2021: which Amazon smart display is best for you?

How to pick a panel for your pad

So you’ve decided to invite Amazon’s smart assistant into your home? How hospitable. Now it’s time to decide where she’s going to live.

You could, for example, stick a screenless Echo speaker on your shelf, if all you need is audio support. But if you’re after visual aids, video calls and very easy touchscreen controls, it’s an Echo Show you need. And with three styles and four sizes to choose from, you’ll need more than a measuring tape to make your pick. 

Luckily, we’ve done some digging to help you decide. From features to speakers, the buying guide below sets out everything you need to know about each device in Amazon’s Echo Show line-up. Whether you want an AI sous chef for the kitchen counter or a home hub to keep the family from falling apart, there’s an Echo Show for you. And this list will help you find it.

Echo Show 5 (2nd gen) (£45)

Echo Show 5 (2nd gen) (£45)

Dinky indeed, the Echo Show 5 has a screen smaller than most flagship smartphones. So is it really worth adding one to your smart home? If you want an affordable, accessible always-on interface for controlling connected kit and getting AI assistance, the answer’s yes.

Its compact form factor means the Echo Show 5 is brilliant for bedside tables. Which is handy, because it’s got all the smarts you need to start the day right: alarms, weather updates, news briefings, morning music and automated routines to take away the pain of bleary-eyed admin.

Sure, the diminutive display isn’t ideal for streaming shows – and the sole 1.6in speaker won’t set your world on fire. But at 5.5in, the panel is perfectly fine for calling your family and tapping to interact with info readouts. Pop one in a corner and it’ll also keep a watchful eye on your pad using its 2MP camera.

Echo Show 8 (2nd gen) (£90)

Echo Show 8 (2nd gen) (£90)

Amazon’s medium Echo Show is the Goldilocks option: just right for most people. At 8in, its display is big enough for browsing, binge-watching and bossing Alexa around, yet the Show’s free-standing form is still small enough not to dwarf your countertop. A pair of 2in speaker drivers deliver audio that’s fine for casual kitchen listening, even if the 1280×800 screen resolution isn’t the sharpest.

Aping the Facebook Portal, the upgraded 13MP camera can track your face around the frame – so callers will always get a good look at your mug, even if you’re pacing the place. Anyone with an Echo device or the Alexa app can hop on a group call, while the cam can also be used to keep an eye on your abode when you’re out and about.

Alexa’s on-board, of course, as well as all the smart home controls and life admin tools you’d expect from an Amazon hub. New Visual ID smarts can also be trained to recognise your face and display personalised content. Don’t like looking down on your smart display? An optional magnetic stand makes it easy to tilt and tweak the viewing angle.

Alternate eight

Not keen on video calls? Amazon’s original Echo Show 8 is available for £30 less. It has a much lower resolution camera (1MP) without Visual ID – but otherwise matches the second-gen display for screen resolution, speaker setup and smart skills.

Read moreAmazon Echo Show 8

Echo Show 10 (3rd gen) (£240)

Echo Show 10 (3rd gen) (£240)

A hybrid home upgrade, the third-gen Echo Show 10 is essentially two devices in one: a punchy Echo speaker with a 10.1in tablet attached. And it’s no static display. Like a true automaton, the Echo Show 10 can rotate to face you, courtesy of a brushless motor inside.

Calling your loved ones? Feel free to walk around the room, because the Echo Show 10 uses auto-framing to keep your face front and centre – not just by digitally panning with the 13MP camera, but also by physically rotating the touchscreen panel through a 175-degree arc.

That tracking tech makes it trickier to place than a wedge-shaped Show, but there are other positives. Besides the smart home skills seen on every Echo Show, the 10 also functions as a Zigbee hub – meaning you can connect compatible devices directly. And while its screen isn’t the sharpest (the resolution is still 1200×800), beefier speakers mean it’s better for starting the party: inside the fabric-wrapped base are two 2in tweeters and a 3in woofer for extra whump-whump while you’re cooking.

Echo Show 15 (£240)

Echo Show 15 (£240)

Unlike any Amazon device that’s gone before, the newest, biggest Echo Show transforms the format. With a picture-frame aesthetic, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Facebook Portal. But while the boxy Echo Show 15 can prop itself on surfaces with a sold-separately stand, its true purpose is realised when you mount it on the wall.

Oriented in portrait or landscape (you can switch after installation), it becomes a family whiteboard fit for 2021. Its 15.6in Full HD display is home to Alexa-powered widgets which try to keep your life in order. From sticky notes to shopping lists to schedules, the Echo Show 15 is a genuine hub for your household. And while its 5MP camera isn’t the sharpest in the Echo Show line-up, it still benefits from face-recognition (backed up by voice ID), so family members will see reminders relevant to them.

It also supports meaningful multi-tasking. That means you can view feeds from connected cameras, for example, while streaming a Netflix show or reviewing a recommended recipe. Its pair of 1.6in speaker drivers won’t match the audio power of the Echo Show 10, but this smart panel is much easier to hide – especially if you use the Photo Frame feature to display your favourite snaps from Facebook or Amazon Photos. It’s just a shame about the wire that dangles down below.