Amazon makes Echo Show smart displays in a bunch of different form factors. Opposite the itty-bitty Echo Show 5 on the screen-size spectrum sits the Echo Show 15, a giant, 15.6-inch Alexa display styled like a framed picture and designed to be hung on the wall. It's spendy at an MSRP of $250, but if you can stomach the price tag, you're getting one of the most unique and versatile smart displays out there.
The Echo Show 15 is a really big smart display with an attractive design, but it's priced just a little too high for what it offers.
- Display: 1920 x 1080 touchscreen
- Sound: 1.6-inch stereo speakers, 8W total
- Colors: Black with white bezel
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 6
- List price: $250
- It's huge!
- Works in portrait or landscape orientation
- Homescreen widgets are handy
- Lacks some smart home functionality other Echo devices have
- Speakers are middling
Design, hardware, what’s in the box
The Echo Show 15 is the largest smart display you can buy right now, blowing right past other "big screen" options like the Echo Show 10 and Nest Hub Max. It’s got a 15.6-inch, 1080p LCD touchscreen surrounded by thick white bezels, with a thinner black frame around the whole thing. It’s a stretch to say it actually looks like a framed photo, but it evokes one, which I think gives the design a homier feel than most smart speakers and displays.
The back of the device, without the wall mount attached.
Like a picture frame, the Show 15 is designed to be hung on a wall, but Amazon sells an optional stand that lets you rest it on a counter or table for 30 bucks. (I have mine leaning against the wall on a low bookcase, no stand, and that works fine, too.) You can use it in either portrait or landscape orientation, which offers flexibility I never knew I was missing in other smart displays. I like to leave mine in portrait; it can still display a lot of information that way, but it takes up less counter space.
There’s a five-megapixel webcam with an inconspicuous physical privacy shutter at the top (in either the left or right corner, depending). Considering both the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10 each have 13-megapixel webcams, the lower resolution cam in the Show 15 is a bummer, but it should be adequate for most people. The camera's shutter switch, a mute button, and volume keys are along one edge, and there are two speakers around back.
The Show 15 comes with a five-foot power cable, some literature, and all the hardware you need to mount it to a wall. It doesn't include any way to disguise the power cable, though; if you want it hidden, you'll need to either supply your own cable concealer or run it through your wall. Five feet also seems awfully short for a device a lot of people will hang about five feet off the floor. You can use an extension cable, of course — either a regular one or one of these purpose-built numbers — but that's added cost and hassle that shouldn't come along with a device this expensive.
Display, audio, and Alexa
The main event here is the Show 15’s namesake 15(.6)-inch display. It’s 16:9, and I’m ambivalent about that. Not many photos are 16:9, so if you want it to show your photo library, the Show 15 has to crop your pictures to get them to fit. That aspect ratio also blows the Show 15’s cover to an extent — when's the last time you saw a 16:9 picture frame? At the same time, a lot of people are going to use this thing as a kitchen TV, and it’s the right aspect ratio for most video. It’s not my preference, but I think it was the right call.
It’s a fine screen, too. It’s a 1080p LCD touch panel, with good brightness and contrast, and colors that are vibrant enough. There’s some color shift if you look at it off-axis, which is an annoyance I'm not used to dealing with in other smart displays. But you won’t often be piling a group around the thing to watch movies anyway.
There are two speakers on the Show 15, both on the back. There’s some bass, and music gets loud enough. The grilles are angled so they vent to either side of (or above and below) the display rather than directly into the wall you might hang it on, but audio sounds kind of hollow and echoey (sorry). The Show 15 doesn’t sound bad, but I expect more out of a $250 device. It doesn’t sound as nice to my ear as even the Echo Show 8, let alone higher-end smart speakers.
Being an Amazon product, the Show 15 is, of course, equipped with Alexa. Alexa’s as fine at what it does here as it is anywhere else: you can control your smart devices, ask questions, play media, the whole nine yards.
Compared to Google Assistant, Alexa doesn’t feel quite as refined. My Show 15 mishears my commands and questions more often than my Nest Hub Max does, and occasionally answers before I’ve finished talking. Alexa’s default voice is also still too stiff and robotic for my taste. In day-to-day use, though, I haven't noticed any real limiting differences in functionality.
The Show 15’s got a new trick, though, with widgets you can pin to its expansive home screen. There aren’t many to choose from, but by and large, they’re useful. Some of the better ones are what you’d expect: there’s weather, a calendar (that you can sync with services like Google and Outlook), reminders, and smart home controls. But there are also duds, like recommendations for products Amazon
wants you to buy again thinks you might be out of and a widget that suggests a “recipe of the day” without taking your dietary preferences into account.
Unlike many other Echo devices (including the plain, base-model Echo), the Show 15 does not include a Zigbee wireless radio to directly control smart home stuff like SmartThings devices or Hue bulbs. I already have a discrete Hue hub, so that wasn’t an issue for me — but if you were looking to build out a smart home starting with the Show 15, be aware it’s not quite as flexible as other Echo speakers and displays.
There’s a decent selection of services on offer in the Show 15’s Video interface, including Amazon Prime Video (obviously), Netflix, Hulu, and even YouTube and TikTok through web browser interfaces — but no Disney+, HBO Max, or Apple TV+.
The camera tucks itself away very neatly when the shutter is closed. (That "camera off" notification is only visible for a second or two after you flip the switch.)
The Show 15 can only pull pictures from Amazon Photos or Facebook, so if you’re not already keeping your photos on one of those services, you’ll need to move them over to show them on this screen. I’m aware it’s a pie-in-the-sky wish, but Google Photos compatibility would be a dream here.
Should you buy it?
If you want a big, honkin’ Alexa screen, sure. The Show 15 is expensive, but your $250 is getting you a large smart display that looks refreshingly elegant, which lets it blend into your home more easily. It's easier to justify when it's on sale, which it is for Prime Day.
A big screen really helps with the assistant aspect of a virtual assistant, too. Having a dedicated place to see the weather, calendars, reminders, and grocery lists — all at once if you want — can be of tremendous value for anyone who, like me, has trouble staying organized.
I’m a little annoyed at the overall Amazon-ness of the thing; I don’t need to be reminded to buy more stuff, and I miss services like Disney+. But if the quirks sound tolerable to you, or you’re already entrenched in the Amazon ecosystem, you’ll probably love the Echo Show 15.
Buy it if...
- You're already all-in on Alexa and you want a big smart display.
- The high price tag doesn't scare you off.
Don't buy it if...
- You want a kitchen TV with all the video apps.
- You don't want to use Amazon's services.
UPDATE: 2022/07/13 BY TAYLOR KERNS
This review has been updated to be accurate as of July 2022, including impressions from long-term testing.