Amazon unveils touchscreen Echo device with video conferencing feature

Amazon has launched Echo Show, a touchscreen device that will allow users to video call and watch clips television clips, the latest in the company’s series of Echo voice-controlled speakers.

The device, which is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com for $230 and will ship at the end of June, will feature Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled aide, that can be used to play music, order an Uber or turn on the house lights.

The Echo Show will allow video conferencing between users having an Echo device or the Alexa app. The device is the first to support the feature, which is absent in similar devices offered by rivals such as Google. The launch of the Echo Show is Amazon’s latest effort to make Alexa a key part of its customers’ lives and dominate the nascent voice-powered computing market.

A study by research firm eMarketer earlier showed that Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices will claim a 70.6% of the US market this year, well ahead of Google Home’s 23.8%. Amazon unveiled a voice-controlled camera, the Echo Look, last month alongside an app that recommends outfits for users. The launch comes a day after Microsoft said it was developing a voice-activated speaker in collaboration with Samsung-owned Harman Kardon.

Blogger John Gruber commented: “Intriguing functionally — there are some things that are better seen than heard (and vice versa). But it’s a rather ungainly piece of hardware. The Echo Show is a conspicuous device — by design, surely, given that it has a display. But at best I’d describe it as inelegant, and I’d actually say it’s homely.