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?”