Alexa, the Show-Me Edition (about the Echo Show) — Part 2 in the Alexa series

Last July I wrote about how an Alexa device has enabled us to communicate easily with our mom who is wheelchair-bound with advanced Parkinson’s disease, and has been an ‘inmate’ in a locked-down care home since the pandemic began. Back then, I wrote about the Echo Dot, which is a speaker the size of a hockey puck, that sits on the desk or table.

We’ve since upgraded to the Echo Show 5, which enables video conversations. It’s been well worth the upgrade.

(Photo from Amazon)
(Photo from Amazon)
**This is my unsolicited, uncompensated review and recommendation of the Echo Show device, but the links to Amazon are 'affiliate' links, meaning if you click and buy through one of them, I may receive a few cents in commission, at no additional cost to you. The identity of anyone who clicks on an affiliate link will be completely anonymous to me.** 

At regular intervals Amazon has the Echo Show 5 promo-priced as low as $45 (regular list price is $89). The Echo Show 5 screen is comparable in size to a smartphone screen.

A few details about our experience with the Echo Show 5:

Mic–The online customer reviews of the Echo Show 5, reveal a recurring complaint that mic is not as sensitive as on the other Echo devices such as the Dot. I agree. It’s not so bad that it keeps me from recommending the Echo Show; far from that. But the Show mic is not as good, which is frustrating at times. I can be sitting inches from the Echo Show on my desk and give it an Alexa command, and the device does not respond, but the Echo Dot in the next room hears me and does what I asked.

The optional adjustable Stand:

Amazon sells a little matching adjustable stand for the Echo Show 5. Many of the online customer reviews express my reaction on seeing the item: Really, $20 for a little piece of plastic? Yes. And for our mom, it has been worth it. She needed a different angle for the mic and camera, and we couldn’t figure out another way to prop the Show at a good angle for her. So, we caved and bought the little piece of plastic, and it did the trick. It is secure and easy to adjust. I don’t need one for my own Echo Show, but for her, it was worth the $20.

Click here or on the picture below, to go to the stand on Amazon.

(Image from Amazon)

Gradually, quite a few of our family members have acquired their own Echo Show 5s to be able to visit Mom and each other.

Zoom:

One of my brothers has gotten the Echo Show 8, which is apparently the only Echo device that works with Zoom. (Here’s an article from Zoom on how it works: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360053161571-Getting-Started-with-Zoom-on-Echo-Show )

Changing the Settings on the Echo Show:

With the Echo Show, there are a plethora of settings available to personalize the device and maximize the usefulness of the video screen. Examples:

  • Display a slide show of your photos (uploaded to Amazon Photos, which provides free cloud storage)
  • Play movies and TV shows
  • See your local weather conditions and forecast
  • See curated news updates
  • See Alexa tips and tricks
  • You can also limit promos from being displayed.

Some of the Echo Show and Echo Dot settings can be made on the device screen itself. To see the Settings options, swipe down from the top of the screen. But you’ll also want to install both the Alexa desktop browser app and the mobile app. Some settings can only be made on the desktop, and some only on the mobile app. That’s a complaint I have. Figuring out where to find a specific setting is unnecessarily complicated by Amazon having put them in two or three different places.

If you simply want to do an action or a task, speak it to Alexa. Or, to see available actions that you may have recently used, or that Alexa recommends, swipe the Echo screen from right to left.

Selfies (and video):

Just say “Alexa, take my picture.” Take a plain picture, or first swipe through the sticker selection.

There’s so much more. I haven’t even mentioned the Alexa Skills and Routines which enable your Echo do specific useful tasks. It will read your Kindle books to you. And then there are the ‘smart plug’ accessories for turning on the lights, vacuum, etc. Stay tuned…

Alexa can get cheeky on occasion:

“Alexa, what time is the K-State basketball game?”

6 thoughts on “Alexa, the Show-Me Edition (about the Echo Show) — Part 2 in the Alexa series

  1. I don’t use it for as wide of things as you do but I love it. It makes irritating things like setting the alarm clock…and yes on my old clock it was irritating…simple. All I do is say…Alexa wake me up at 6:50 with the Beatles…and sure enough at 6:50 this morning I woken up with the pleasant Here Comes The Sun instead of a Chernobyl.. the earth is ending alarm.

    I’ll love it in baseball season when I miss a game…Alexa what is the Dodgers score? I’m going to go through what you have said and explore it more.

    I’m also with you about the different places to control things…why not one place or all in two places? Why split them up?

    We first placed it in our living room asking questions…then moved it to our bedroom. We might get another one. There are not many products I recommend to people…but this is one of them.

    Like

    1. Waking to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ would be great! I’m going to have to try that. I use mine to set timers and reminders all the time, but haven’t consistently used it for a wake-up alarm.

      The sports updates are amazingly accurate, at least on the mainstream events I check on. Back in baseball season, I’d ask, “What’s the score to the Royal’s game”, and it would tell me score, inning, outs and who was at bat. It was almost perfect real time info. It did give the wrong time in my K-State example above. That game time was changed to 7pm for TV…in case anyone is following to see if the team on a 10-game losing streak will knock off a Top-25 team tonight, haha.

      If you are thinking about getting a second Echo, and you just need the bare minimum, I can recommend the Echo Flex, that’s promo-priced at $15 right now. Where I complained about the Echo Show mic, the Flex has an amazing mic for hearing and understanding requests. It’s the one that hears me and answers from around the corner on the front porch, when the Show a few inches away at my desk sometimes plays deaf and dumb. I’m planning to mention the Flex in a future post. This post was getting too full of details.

      I’m glad you are liking your device. I can’t believe how much I rely on mine after just a few months, and considering I initially banned the Alexa technology from my house and devices. šŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m happy to hear that about sports scores…sometimes I go to sleep late and the Dodgers on the west coast plays after 11 o’clock so I can ask what the score is without getting my phone….lol on the 10 game losing streak.

        I will check out the echo flex…we miss Alexa in here where we are most of the time…at first I was dragging it upstairs and back…that got old. The one thing that surprised me about it…no backup battery. I just figured like most things now it would have at least a small battery.

        I know a lot of people that don’t like them because of the spying issue…I told Jen…all they will learn from us is that we are looney…and I like the Beatles and Baseball…those are my top secrets. I do like the privacy thing on it…where you can turn the camera and mic off.

        Like

      2. I wouldn’t like moving the device from one room to another either. That would get old for sure. And I too was surprised they don’t come with a backup battery. A portable one would be super handy.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m sure that has got to be in the pipeline…a portable one would make so much sense. I was very surprised that it didn’t have one. Maybe to keep the costs down.

        Like

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