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Amazon Echo Show smart speaker adds sight to sound

By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, April 15 2019: The smart home speaker,  which acts as a knowledge  centre,  with Alexa as in-house expert and  Zigbee as a  central hub to control home appliances,  is an idea  slightly ahead of its time in India. Why? 
Because  the connected home is a nice enough concept --  but   costly, if not messy to retrofit into existing home. Indians hate to throw away things  unless  worn out and ready to collapse -- so how many of us are going to exchange  things like lights, air conditioner, microwave or refrigerator  for smarter versions, just so we can control them by shouting instructions.  I'm guessing,  hardly anyone. 
Which is why in the 2 years or so that Amazon's Echo speakers have been available in India, the company has been stressing the superior brain of Alexa and her ability to  understand  English as we speak it here,  rather than the connected appliance features. Echo has gone through 3 avatars: The flagship Rs 7999  unit, a more basic Rs 2299  version called Echo Dot and the Echo Plus which for Rs 14,999,  includes the  Zigbee control hub.
With appliance makers like Syska and Philips in lighting, D-Link and TP-Link in  routers and  major  home appliance leaders,  slowly adding Alexa-readiness, Amazon thinks the time has come to  launch the fourth iteration of Echo. It has just  brought Echo Show to India -- with a giant leap in functionality:  adding sight to sound:  a 10-inch high-definition display  coupled with a 5 megapixel  camera "eye"  now supplementing the array of 8 microphones.  In one fell swoop the device adds a powerful visual dimension:  watch music videos  where earlier you just heard the tracks;  see a trailer of the movie before heading to the multiplex  with tickets  booked  by talking your instructions to Alexa; convert  that  weekly check-up phone call to daadimaa  into a vibrant video call.... |
Like EchoPlus before it, Echo Show has the full   smart hub feature  but   you may not  be able to  exploit it fully till  smartness is built into more products -- and competing  appliance makers  adhere to a single standard.
he ability to  open a browser through speech is not new -- but now you can   go to YouTube and  watch  a video  on the 10 inch screen.  Amazon keeps adding what it calls "skills" -- the ability to  access  a growing number of  services by voice.
At Rs  22, 999 Echo Show is pricier than its siblings -- by a big stretch. But if you  consider they are throwing in vision with voice and if you aspire to 'smarten' your home sometime soon,  this might be  justified as sensible  future -proofing 




    


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