First-gen Echo Show vs. second-gen Echo Show

It’s the year of the smart display, and no surprise that Amazon would release a new Echo Show second-generation model (coming out October 11, 2018) to keep up with its competitors. The new Echo Show 2018 is a slimmed-down, amped-up version of the first model, with plenty to like about it.

So let’s compare. We’ll take a look at the important specs and see how the models stack up. The second-generation Show is an all-around improvement, but you probably want to know the details: Let’s start with design.

Design

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The Show 2018 has a significantly different design than the blockier Show 2017. Let’s talk about the size, the speaker placement, and the materials.

  • Size: Technically, the Show 2018 is 246mm x 174mm x 107mm, while the Show 2017 measures 187mm x 187mm x 90mm. The squarish shape of the original Show has been completely replaced by a rectangular design that’s taken up primarily by the display plus a mic array on the top of the Show that doesn’t take up much room.
  • Speakers: The original Show had a front speaker panel made of two 2-inch speakers set side by side. Now the two speakers — still the same size — are separated in the 2018 model, and placed on the sides of the Show (which sports a declining pyramid shape). The effect essentially makes the speakers invisible, while also improving sound direction.
  • Materials: As with the other second-generation Echo product, the Show 2018 switches from smooth black plastic to a fabric covering that’s available in dark gray or white. It’s more home-friendly … but also harder to clean if something splashes on the surface.

Display

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The Show 2017 has a rectangular, 7-inch touchscreen perched above the speaker. With the speaker relegated to the sides, the Show 2018 is more or less all screen—and there’s more of it. The 2018 screen measures in at 10.1 inches, and has an even more rectangular shape, closer to the shape of a traditional TV screen than the original Show. Amazon is now explicitly calling the screen “HD,” indicating a pixel-density upgrade, although the company hasn’t provided any precise resolution numbers. In practice, the screen is still a little too small to notice any particular upgrade in picture quality.

However, the larger screen is a surprisingly important QOL upgrade. If you’ve used a Show before, you know that you tend to watch from across the kitchen or the other side of the living room—or maybe just a lingering glance while passing. A larger screen makes it easier to absorb key details at a distance, and makes the Show 2018 a much better video device.

Performance

Echo Show
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

In most respects, performance between the 2017 and 2018 models is identical, particularly in terms of speed and what the Show can do. Both Shows can accomplish everything that other Echo devices can, plus showing information on the screen. Both offer video from YouTube, Amazon Prime, and now even Hulu. Both models can connect to the majority of other smart home devices and control them via voice commands. And, of course, both Shows can act as videocall devices with a simple, “Alexa, call Dad,” and Skype support is incoming for both models

But one of the biggest issues with the original Show was that front-facing speaker (which, remember, is two 2-inch speakers clustered together), which didn’t have the best directional qualities and was rather disappointing, especially compared to the traditional and second-gen Echos.

Amazon evidently realized this: The Show 2018 doesn’t just have different speaker placement: It has two 2-inch speakers, a passive bass radiator, and Dolby processing. The difference is really significant. The Echo 2018’s speakers do not embarrass, and the added clarity is ideal for everything from catching up on a football game to filling your house party with music.

In other words, if you like music or watching video on your Show, the 2018 model is an easy recommendation.

Pricing and availability

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You can already find and pre-order the Show 2018 on Amazon for $230. However, its official release date is October 11, 2018, so you’ll have to wait until then for it to ship. The original Show is still available and is discounted to $130 down from its regular $230 price. It likely won’t be available at that price for much longer, however.

On a final note, the Show 2 has a number of additional buying options compared to the original Show. You can choose to purchase it with Ring Video Doorbell Pro, with a free smart bulb, or with a Wyze Cam, which may be good bundling options if you want to expand your smart home into other areas.

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