First-gen Echo Show vs. second-gen Echo Show: How are they different?

Smart displays are becoming more and more common as smart home gadgets like video doorbells make it necessary to both hear and see the output coming from your smart home controllers. The Echo Show (Second Generation) 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 against each other. 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 2nd gen Echo 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 products, 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 Echo 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. The one on the second-gen Show is now 1280 x 800 with 720p HD video.

However, the larger screen is a surprisingly important QOL upgrade. Many people tend to watch video on a Show from across the kitchen or the other side of the living room. 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 virtually everything that other Echo devices can, while also showing information on the screen. Both offer video from YouTube, Amazon Prime, and now even Hulu. They can also connect to the majority of other smart home devices and control them via voice commands. And, of course, both Shows can act as video calling devices with a simple, “Alexa, call Dad.” Skype support is also incoming for both models. The 2nd-gen show, however, can support local voice control, which means it can support certain requests (like controlling compatible lights and plugs) even when the devices isn’t connected to the internet.

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 find the Echo Show 2nd gen on Amazon for $230. The original Show is still available, and you can get a refurbished version for about $130. It might not be available at that price permanently, 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 other smart home gadgets like a Ring Video Doorbell Pro or a free smart bulb, which may be good bundling options if you want to expand your smart home into other areas.

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