Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

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The Lowdown

If you’re using Amazon Alexa to control your smart home, and you’ve thought about adding a large digital photo frame, don’t do that without first giving the Echo Show 15 a try. I believe that you’ll agree the Echo Show 15 is the better option!

Overall
4

Pros

  • The display is large, bright, and beautiful
  • The Echo Show 15 makes for an excellent family hub
  • It’s the same price as the smaller Echo Show 10
  • Quite a few useful widgets are offered
  • Opt-in facial recognition allows for personalized results
  • You can mount it in either landscape or portrait mode
  • You can mount it on the wall or use an optional stand

Cons

  • The 5-megapixel camera isn’t that great
  • In video calls, the camera offers no auto-framing or digital tracking
  • The speakers are adequate but not great
  • If you’re mounting it on a wall and want to hide the plug, you’ll need a recessed outlet
Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame Listen to this article

If you are using an Amazon Alexa smart speaker to control your home’s various connected features, adding an Alexa-enabled smart display to the mix seems like the obvious next step. Built with the user’s privacy in mind, the Amazon Echo Show 15 is a convergent device that functions not only as an elegant touchscreen smarthome hub but also as a convenient family communication center, a mesmerizing 15.6″ digital photo frame, a helpful cooking companion, a smart speaker, a movie and video entertainment center, a home security camera, and more!

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

The package includes the Echo Show 15, a 30W power adapter with an attached 5′ long power cord, a wall mount, four anchors, four screws, a mounting template, and a quick start guide. The Echo Show 15 can be mounted on the wall in portrait or landscape mode, or you can get the optional base that displays the device in either orientation.

The Echo Show 15 looks like a stylish digital photo frame; it measures 15.8″ long by 9.9″ tall by 1.4″ thick. A thick black border forms the frame, and there is a 0.75″ wide white bezel around the 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) display that nicely simulates the matte around a photo.

In landscape orientation, the 5-megapixel camera will be in the upper left corner, visible as a black circle in the white matte; in portrait orientation, the camera will be in the upper right.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

In landscape mode, the top of the Echo Show 15 has volume up and down buttons, a mic and camera on or off button, and a camera shutter privacy switch. When the camera shutter privacy switch has been activated, the black camera lens is physically covered under the glass with a white panel that matches the matte around the display. In portrait orientation, these controls will be on the right side of the Echo Show.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

In landscape mode, there are two microphones on the left side of the Echo Show 15; they will be on top of the Echo Show in portrait mode.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

The bottom and the right side are left plain in landscape and portrait orientation.

There is a wall mount cavity with a power port and a microUSB port on the back. It’s worth pointing out that if you have an outlet already mounted high on your wall, the Echo Show 15’s large plug will not tuck into the space on the back unless your outlet is recessed.

Perforations on each side of the back cover the 1.6″ speakers; not surprisingly, on such a thin device, there is no subwoofer.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

You have options if you don’t want to mount the Echo Show 15 on your wall! A $39.99 Sanus Tilt & Swivel Stand allows you to rotate between portrait and landscape mode, which is pretty cool. There’s also a $49.99 Sanus Under Cabinet Mount, assuming you have the room for it in your kitchen (unfortunately, I don’t).

My Echo Show 15 review unit included a Sanus Tilt Stand, which sells for $29.99. The stand is designed to allow the table-top display of the Echo Show 15 in either landscape or portrait mode; the stand is cleverly designed to hide the screws that attach it to the Echo Show, and it also has a built-in power cable winder to help keep things tidy.

The base of the Sanus Tilt Stand measures 8.75″ long and 6.6 wide, and it is covered with a soft grippy material where the bottom edge of the Echo Show 15 will sit; you can adjust the viewing angle with up to 27º of tilt in portrait mode and up to 30º tilt in landscape mode. A short lip on the end of the base keeps the Echo Show 15 from tilting back too far, and there is a decent range available to get the perfect viewing angle.

The stand is weighted, attached by two included screws to the back of the Echo Show 15, and there are four rubber feet on the bottom; this is easily the most secure stand that I’ve ever used with any larger digital photo frame. If you were hoping for a stand that would allow you to easily switch between displaying your Echo Show 15 in portrait or landscape mode, this wouldn’t be the best choice.

I opted to use the stand instead of the wall mount, and I mounted the Echo Show 15 in landscape mode to the stand for use on my desk.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

Once the location and mounting set-up have been decided, all that’s left is to plug the Echo Show 15 into an outlet and let it walk you through the start-up screens.

Once you’ve set up your Echo Show 15 and done any necessary updates, you’ll be asked to set up a profile for yourself and other family members.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

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You’ll be given the option of using the Echo Show 15 as a live stream camera by household members; this means anyone with access can turn the camera on to see what is going on in the room. For privacy purposes, a banner will show up at the top of the display, letting people in the room know that someone is watching. You can also use the camera to trigger routines when people are detected.

From inside Settings/Camera on the Echo Show 15, you can specify if you want there to be a delay before clear video streaming begins or if you want an alert to sound when the camera starts streaming. Obviously, none of that will happen if the camera is manually switched off on the Echo Show 15, so that is always an option if you want total privacy.

You’ll be offered the chance to disable or enable Amazon Sidewalk; if you aren’t aware of what this service does, here it is in a nutshell:

Amazon Sidewalk creates a low-bandwidth network with the help of Sidewalk Bridge devices including select Echo and Ring devices. These Bridge devices share a small portion of your internet bandwidth which is pooled together to provide these services to you and your neighbors. And when more neighbors participate, the network becomes even stronger.

I live on a ranch with the nearest neighbor at least three (or more) miles away as the crow flies, so I’ve got this turned off.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

There are just a couple of ads to get through, and then we’ll be done. The first is an offer for Amazon Music for $3.99 per month. I have Spotify, and I’m happy with it, so I didn’t bother.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

There’s also an option to get a six-month trial of Alexa Together, which looks like a helpful feature if you have an elderly loved one that you want to keep an eye on. I didn’t need it, so I passed.

On the new Home Screen, you’ll have the opportunity to add, remove, or re-order widgets.

The Echo Show 15’s widgets include:

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Alexa Suggestions
Calendar & Reminders
Commute
Cookpad Recipe of the Day
Favorite Photos
Maps
Music and Audio
Reorder Suggestions
Shopping List
Smart Home Favorites
Sticky Notes
To-Do List
Weather
What to Eat
Your Deliveries

Swiping down from the top of the display shows the menu, which includes quick settings as well as shortcuts, including Home, Settings, Do Not Disturb, Alarms, Brightness, Notifications, Widget Gallery, Discovery, Communicate, Music, Smart Home, Video, Routines, and Photo Frame.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame

Here’s a breakdown of what each of those menu items does:

  • Home – Pulls up the home screen.
  • Settings – Pulls up settings for every control on the Echo Show 15, including Bluetooth, WiFi Network, Your Profile & Family*, Display & Brightness Clock & Photo Display, Home Content, Sounds, Amazon Kids, Do Not Disturb, Camera, Communication, Device Options, Restrict Access, Calendar, Things to Try, Help, Accessibility, and Legal & Compliance.
  • Do Not Disturb – You can quickly turn DND on or off here, but you can set schedules for it under settings.
  • Alarms – Shows any set alarms and allows you to set alarms.
  • Brightness – You can manually set the brightness, set for adaptive brightness based on the available light, and set Sunrise Effect, which will display gradual, sunrise-like lighting beginning 15 minutes before alarms that are set from 4 to 9 am.
  • Notifications – Lists all notifications, including weather service alerts.
  • Widget Gallery – This shows a list of all available widgets with checkmarks on the ones you are currently using.
  • Discovery – Helps you discover what’s trending on Alexa and helpful tips & tricks.
  • Communicate – This allows you to Drop-In, Make Announcements, Call, or Message your contacts; contacts are manually entered either on the Echo Show 15 or through the Alexa app on your smartphone.
  • Music – Shows a list of your recently played songs and playlists.
  • Smart Home – This shows all your connected devices and groups and allows you to manage or control them.
  • Video – Pulls up all of the available video apps, including Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Sling, YouTube, TikTok, Food kitchen Network, Red Bull TV, Tubi, and Bing Open Web, which is a web browser right on the Echo Show 15.
  • Routines – This allows you to view created routines, but you’ll need to use the Alexa app on your smartphone to edit or add routines.
  • Photo Frame – Starts your photo display based on what you have set up under Clock & Photo Display in Settings. I currently have it set to show selected photo albums from Facebook, but you can also upload photos or choose an Album in Amazon Photos (prime members get unlimited Amazon Photos photo storage) or select photos from your phone using the Alexa app.
  • *Your Family & Profile – Visual ID is one cool feature beyond voice matching under this Settings option. Once you’ve gone through the steps of entering your Visual ID, the Echo Show will recognize you when you approach; if there are messages that have been left by another family member specifically for you, they will pop up; the catch is that it will only work if they have set up their Visual ID.

And finally, we have the Echo Show 15 set up; it’s displaying photos, my calendar, recently played Spotify music, my smart home favorites, and Alexa tips. Swiping left will show extra widgets that might be in the drawer, as well as the options to add widgets or rearrange the installed ones.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review: Much More Than a Beautiful Smart Digital Photo Frame
If you set the Echo Show 15 up in your kitchen, you’ll want to put it somewhere where you can see it as you’re cooking as it will walk you step by step through any of the recipes you select. The Echo Show 15 also serves as a handy smart TV without having to add yet another item to your wall or countertop.

If you have a friend or family member you want to call via video, the Echo Show is capable, but there are a few caveats. The first is that the person you’re calling will need to be on another Echo Show device or using the Amazon Alexa app on their smartphone. The second caveat is that the Echo Show 15’s 5-megapixel camera’s performance is pretty underwhelming; if the lighting isn’t just right from where you’re calling from, you’ll look washed out, and there’s no auto-framing or digital tracking feature.

Looking at the side camera is awkward, but if you don’t make it a point to look at it, the person you’re on the call with will be staring at your ear instead of your face. And if you are looking at the camera, you can’t look at the person you’re on the call with! It’s a catch-22! I tend to only make video calls from my phone or computer, so that’s not a deal-breaker for me. But if Alexa-enabled video calls are important to you, you might consider the Echo Show 10 instead.

The Echo Show 10 has a 13-megapixel camera that offers auto-framing and digital tracking, a 3″ subwoofer, and can serve as a Zigbee hub for the same price as the Echo Show 15. The trade-off, of course, is a substantially smaller display that takes up a lot of counter space and can’t be wall-mounted. It’s an option, though.

I have this Echo Show 15 set up in my office, where it’s replaced the 14″ digital photo frame that I’d been using for the past couple of years. The Echo Show 15 makes for an excellent digital photo frame, but it’s so much more useful! I use it to listen to Spotify while I’m writing, or I’ll ask Alexa to tell me the news so I can catch up with what’s going on. When I’m working on something that doesn’t require absolute concentration, I use the Echo Show 15 to listen to Audible audiobooks.

While I’ve found that while the speakers on the Echo Show 15 are adequate, they really aren’t that great. Music played through them can be a bit tinny at louder volumes, and they don’t put out much (if any) bass. The good news is that it is easy enough to connect the Echo Show to a Bluetooth speaker if you require a fuller, richer sound.

Even with the camera and speaker caveats, I really like the Echo Show 15. Its large display, versatile mounting options, and its ability to serve as a centralized family hub — on top of being an Alexa smart device — makes it infinitely more useful in the home than a similarly sized digital photo frame. If you’re using Amazon Alexa to control your smart home, and you’ve thought about adding a large digital photo frame, don’t do that without first giving the Echo Show 15 a try. I believe that you’ll agree the Echo Show 15 is the better option!

The Amazon Echo Show 15 retails for $249.99; it is available directly from Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: The display is large, bright, and beautiful; The Echo Show 15 makes for an excellent family hub; It’s the same price as the smaller Echo Show 10; Quite a few useful widgets are offered; Opt-in facial recognition allows for personalized results; You can mount it in either landscape or portrait mode; You can mount it on the wall or use an optional stand

What Needs Improvement: The 5-megapixel camera isn’t that great; In video calls, the camera offers no auto-framing or digital tracking; The speakers are adequate but not great; If you’re mounting it on a wall and want to hide the plug, you’ll need a recessed outlet

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Editor in Chief of Gear Diary, Secular Humanist, techie, foodie, hoarder of Kindle eBooks, lover of live music, and collector of passport stamps.