July 1, 2017
This was really worth the wait. I bought the Echo Show for my parents, who are elderly, and have a variety of ailments. Since they have arthritis, and a few other issues, I didn't want them to go and answer the doorbell, just to find it's someone soliciting them to buy random junk. So, last year, I bought and installed the Ring Doorbell Pro in their house, which works very well. The Ring Doorbell Pro is hardwired and not battery operated. After the skill was enabled, I could tell Alexa to show me the front doorbell and a video feed automatically pops up. You really need a good Wi-Fi router with the Echo show as the video will be jerky since the video is very high quality. If you have a good Wi-Fi router, the video comes up very quickly and runs very smooth. I thought the doorbell would launch the app on the Echo Show automatically, but it does not. You have to initiate the connection yourself. Hopefully this will be an option in the next iteration of this skill. I can think of a whole bunch of ideas for this skill to do, but for a very first implementation, it works great with the hardwired version of the Ring Doorbell Pro.
The battery powered Ring products do not work as great though. When trying to connect the Echo Show to a battery powered Ring device, I get a message saying something like, " The camera is asleep and needs to wake up and it could take 30 sec". This happens with my Ring Stickup Camera. So, if you want the best experience, you should buy the Ring Doorbell Pro instead of the battery powered versions.
One of my parents just came out of the hospital and sometimes just doesn't have the energy to even pick up a cell phone when we call. So, we have another Echo Show, just for her, in drop in mode. This has really worked very well for us since she does not have to fumble and look for her cell phone if we need to call and check up on her. Also, we use to call her cell phone, but then we would find that the phone was not changed enough, so the call would end prematurely, or the call would not go through. All of those issues have gone away with the Echo Show. If she needs to call a family member, that's just a voice call away as well.
Right now, she can use her voice to call up movie and TV shows on Amazon Prime. Hopefully, Netflix, and other services, will also be forth coming. But for now, the shows on Amazon Video will suffice. I've outfitted my parents house with Homekit products from Philips Hue, Lutron, and iDevices, and all of them work flawlessly with the Echo Show.
One feature that I found by accident, that I have not found documented anywhere, is that if you hold down the mute button for about 3 or 4 seconds, than a user interface comes up that allows you to shut down the device entirely. A user interface that's says "Power Off" come up. Then you can either hot OK to power the device off or hit Cancel to go back to the main screen. We use the timer function a lot for preparing medicine and cooking food. When I set a timer, the Echo Show actually shows the timer on the screen. Therefore, I don’t have to ask it how much time is left every so often. I can actually see how much time is left. This may sound like a small thing, but it's really very helpful. You can even dismiss a timer with a swipe instead of saying cancel timer, or stop timer, when the timer goes off.
The Echo Show definitely isn't perfect. Even though the camera works well, I wish it could swivel so that you can fine tune the position of it. But all in all, for the scenarios my parents use it for, it works great for a first release. The ability to check in on someone that's bed ridden, and can't move all that well, even to pick up a cell phone, makes this a great device to own.
Unfortunately YouTube is not supported anymore because of a disagreement between Google and Amazon. Hopefully, this feature will be added back after an agreement is reached.
However, Amazon added a new feature to the Echo Show, and all Echo devices, that allows the user to call cell phone and landline numbers in the U.S, Mexico, and Canada for free. You don't need to buy anything else to make this happen. Previously, you needed to use one of the Echo devices, or the Alexa app, to make calls. Now, you can use an Echo device to call someone's cellphone, or a landline. This is great for those cases where video calling is not the best option. When you initiate a call on your Echo device, the person you are calling will see your phone number show up on their caller ID. They won't know you are calling from an Echo device.
You can either call using a direct number or using a name from your address book. Therefore, you can say, "Alexa, call mom at home", "Alexa, call dad's cellphone", etc. Or you can say, " Alexa call/dial 1-123-456-7890". If there are multiple people with similar sounding names, Alexa will ask you to confirm which person you actually mean to call. If you press the mute button on your Echo, then it has the same effect as pressing mute on your phone. Meaning, you can hear the other person, but they cannot hear you. While on the phone call, you can also tell Alexa to raise/lower the volume as well. When you are finished with he call, you can just say, "Alexa, hang up" and the call will be terminated. A phone call can only be made from a physical Alexa device. I have found it does not work from the Alexa app itself. But still, this is a great new feature that makes the Echo Show, and all other Alexa devices, worthwhile. Knowing a person, confined to bed, can call you, at any number in their address book, really gives some peace of mind.
Alexa is the gift that keeps on giving. Today, when going through the account settings to enable notifications for shopping, I noticed another option called "Your Voice". When enabling this new feature, Amazon has enabled you to train Alexa to recognize specific voices. Alexa really has voice recognition now. After training Alexa to recognize your voice, she can distinguish who is speaking by just their voice. To enable the feature, go into settings and click the "Your Voice" setting. From there, choose the Alexa device that you want to train. Then the user interface will lead you into speaking 10 sentences for the training process. After the training session, it takes about 20 minutes for Alexa to process the voice print. After that time, you can ask Alexa, "Alexa, who am I", and she will come back and say your name.
When doing the voice training, it's a good idea to unplug, or mute, any other Alexa devices in ear shot as they may respond to what you are saying. Also, turn the volume of the TV, or any other device, to mute so that other voices will not interfere with the voice training. In my household, this new feature appears to work very well. When we ask Alexa to play music, she will play music from the specific person's Alexa account. We don't need to specifically switch account anymore. For voice calling, Alexa now looks up the person she was asked to call in the person who is speaking contact database, and makes the call to the correct person. This was a great unexpected feature to find today.
YouTube is back on the Echo Show! Also, Vimeo and Dailymotion are now supported as well. If you ask the Echo Show to show you specific videos, it brings up a list of videos that match your request from YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion. You can then tap the video to bring up a mobile webpage that plays the video. Telling the Echo to play video #1, #2, etc. also works.