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Amazon shipped the new Echo Show this week, a $230 device featuring the company’s Alexa voice-enabled assistant PLUS a touch screen. So how does it work? And what can it do?

On this episode of Geared Up, our weekly gadget show and podcast, Andru Edwards and I unbox the Echo Show and offer our first impressions. Watch the unboxing above, listen to the podcast below, and continue reading for some of our initial thoughts.

The hardware itself is not the most beautiful device you’ll have in your home. Looking at the white version, especially, the aesthetic reminds me a little of the first Amazon Kindle. OK, maybe that’s overstating it, but the initial impression is one of a very utilitarian device.

Amazon’s new Echo Show is its first touch-screen Alexa device. (Amazon Photo)

But the content is where this device starts to shine. It’s connected to your Amazon account, so in my case, for example, I was able to call up all of my Kindle books and have the device read them with an automated voice. Audible books, read by humans, are an option for those who subscribe to the Amazon-owned audiobook service.

The touch screen is clear and responsive, and the speaker is clear and crisp. Reviewers who’ve compared the Echo Show to the original Echo say that the speakers are better on the new device for playing music.

The benefits of having a touch-screen with Alexa start to become clear when you launch YouTube, providing the ability to see a step-by-step recipe in the kitchen, for example.

But the artificial intelligence only goes so far. When I asked Alexa to play the top trending video on YouTube, instead the device played a video with precisely that title.

Other features include the ability to chat via video with other Echo Show users, although the Drop In feature is a bit creepy, as Andru notes.

Overall, the Echo Show looks very promising, and we’re looking forward to spending more time with Amazon’s first touch-screen Alexa device.

Also on this episode, listen for my thoughts after one week with Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, including some highs (great design and battery life) and lows (my struggles with the trackpad and the limits of Windows 10S.) We unboxed the Surface Laptop last week.

Listen to the podcast above or download it as an MP3, watch the raw video above, and don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. Also subscribe to Gear Live on YouTube for the live stream of our behind-the-scenes recordings, where we answer your questions in real time. 

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