Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen) & Alternatives: Upgrade from smart speakers to smart displays

Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen) is a brilliant 10.1-inch with premium sound and vibrant colours but the alternatives to the Echo Show are catching up to steal its thunder. Smart speakers are so yesterday. Upgrade now to smart display.

Amazon Echo Show (2nd-gen)

The well established Echo Show now in its 2nd Generation is hard to fault. Being from Amazon it is the perfect smart display for Prime members and those looking to make the most of the company’s streaming services be it video or music and Alexa voice service. The 10.1-inch HD screen is one of the biggest and is complemented with premium speakers that produce Dolby surround sound.

Those wondering why you need a smart display, here are a few good reasons:

  • catch up on streaming videos, movies and TV shows in the kitchen, workroom, garage, home office or even the bathroom.
  • place video calls with family and friends, totally free via Skype, Google or Alexa App to another compatible smart display.
  • enjoy streaming music with lyrics and album art when streaming for an added visual experience.
  • with the home screen, see weather forecasts, upcoming events in your calendar and to do items at a glance.
  • stream music video, live TV and sports, separate subscriptions may be required.
  • works in the kitchen to set timer, ask for recipes, watch how to prepare dishes, set alarm and add items to the shopping list.
  • use in the workshop for DIY jobs checking out how others would do what you need doing
  • control compatible smart home devices especially those with video output

From a functionality perspective the smart display can be linked to other smart home devices for remote and voice supported controls. Compatible devices includes but not limited to Hive Heating, Hue Lighting, Zigbee devices, Canary Cameras, Ring Spotlight and more.

Now that you know what smart displays are good for, check out the alternatives below

The Alternatives

Here are 8 potential alternatives to the Echo Show.

  1. Google Home Hub (Google Nest Hub)
  2. Amazon Echo Show 5
  3. Harman JBL Link View
  4. Lenovo Smart Display
  5. LG ThinQ Smart Display WK9
  6. Lenovo Smart Tab P10
  7. Amazon Echo Spot
  8. Google Nest Hub Max

1. Google Home Hub (Google Nest Hub) 10-inch

Google may be late to the game with their smart display but the company is making a big push. The smart home display sits between Echo Show (10.1) and Echo Show 5 with a 5.5-inch touchscreen display. At this size, it is adequate for most things and costs a lot less than Amazon Echo Show.

nest hub 7
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Still, the display is sharp and the slate is propped up with a stand that is wrapped in fabric much like the Echo Show with this difference. While you can get charcoal black or stand stone grey fabric for the Echo Show, Google Home Hub comes with grey, black, green or pink fabric.

UPDATE: Google Home Hub is now Google Nest Hub after the company reabsorbed Nest bringing it in-house. The smart thermostat and now smart home devices maker was acquired by Google back in 2014. Through a rebranding exercise and subsequent launch of Google Nest Hub Max, a 10-inch smart display, more details at the bottom of our list, the company is now focused on pushing smart displays in a big way.

Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max
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If you prefer Google’s AI and voice activated assistant, this is no different to summoning Google on the smartphone, then this smart display is your thing. The smaller size makes it perfect as a bedside table device, office table assistant or kitchen companion.

It can be used to control other smart devices, stream music and video as well as do everything the standard Google Assistant can do. All you need is ask. What the Google Nest Hub lacks compared to the bigger Google Nest Hub Max are the web camera and stereo speakers (it has a mono speaker).

2. Amazon Echo Show 5 – 5.5-inch

The new Echo Show 5 is basically a smaller Echo Show with 5.5-inch display. Owing to its compact size, and rectangular not round display, it works well as a bedside clock for time, alarm and daily briefing. In the living room, it is a great Alexa voice assistant to control smart devices, show feed from security camera and control the thermostat. For the office, it’s literally an assistant helping out with calendars and appointment. In the kitchen, it serves up recipes, lists, videos and so on.

It is definitely a must have for any smart home, a step up from a smart speaker. There is even a built-in microphone and web cam for hands free calling and messaging. You even get to choose your preferred clock face and use your favourite photo as home screen. Now if you are afraid of hackers snooping around, there is a button to disable the onboard microphone and a sliding cover to close the web cam.

Amazon Echo Show 5
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Amazon Echo Show 5 on Amazon

3. JBL Link View 8-inch

From the sound specialist, JBL comes a smart display that puts audio first with stereo front firing speakers. In fact, this arrangement makes it look more like a conventional stereo sound system with left and right channels. Coincidentally, it also works as a Bluetooth speaker, streaming music from your device.

The smart display uses Google Assistant for the clever bits and JBL for amazing quality sound including a surprisingly punchy bass. It is such a bonus when you get the best of both, smart display and smart speaker rolled in one. Such is the JBL Link View, a smart display that sounds incredibly good.

The 5MP front facing camera lets you make high definition video calls to friends and family. When not in use, PrivacySwitch lets you close the camera shutter and mute the microphone so no one is watching or listening in. Both are slider switches so you can’t get them wrong.

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4. Lenovo Smart Display 8-inch or 10-inch

An alternative to Amazon Show (something pls check), the Lenovo Smart Display is available with 8-inch or 10-inch display. This is a truly dedicated voice activated screen unlike tablets that try to be a smart display with speaker dock or charging station.

Why do you need one? You can use it to search the Internet for tutorial videos, recipes, news, weather and more. You can even use it to watch videos from Netflix. It uses Google Assistant to meet all your verbal requests and answer all your questions. All you need is to just ask.

Being connected also allows it to control other smart devices with the proviso that they work with Google Smart Home. There is also an onboard camera and together with the microphone lets you make video calls to your family and friends. This is the best smart display to rival Amazon’s Echo Show for those who prefer a Google ecosystem to one that is controlled by Amazon Alexa.

Lenovo Smart Display 8
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Lenovo Smart Display 8

5. LG XBOOM AI ThinQ Smart Display WK9 8-inch

For a smart display, it has a relatively long name. The WK9 focuses on entertainment with its dual front firing speakers like the JBL Link View. This makes it less attractive when everybody is veering towards minimalist and compact design. But it does mean that you get way better sound quality with Meridian Audio’s advanced technology compared to the rest.

The 8-inch touchscreen is also reasonably to watch streaming video. Being a Google Assistant smart display, you get Google’s voice activated services including visual answers powered by Google Search and Chromecast.

Built-in camera and microphone lets you make voice and video calls directly from the box with Google Duo. It also functions as a Bluetooth speaker so that you can make the most of Meridian’s premium sound. Finally, as with all smart displays, it lets you control smart home devices including video feed from on the screen.

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6. Lenovo Smart Tab P10 and M10 – 10-inch

A tablet first, the Lenovo Smart Tab P10 and M10 convert into smart displays with the included speaker dock making it more versatile than ever. You might think that the Fire HD 10 is capable of being a smart display too with its Show Mode charging dock but this is more than a dock. Both Lenovo Smart Tabs doubles as smart displays with Alexa voice service built-in.

The difference is the Smart Tab P10 is a premium device with 3GB memory and 32GB storage. On the other hand the Smart Tab M10 caters to the masses with its affordable price tag, 2GB memory and 16GB storage. This lead me to believe that the P in P10 is for Premium and M in M10 is for Mass market.

Still, both tablets spots a 10.1-inch display and comes complete with Dolby tuned speaker dock. A dock with dual front firing 2 x 3W speakers that support Dolby Atmos for theatre like audio on the go.

As soon as you dock the tablet, it turns instantly into an Amazon Alexa powered smart display with Echo show mode and access to Alexa voice service. One of the quirks we find is that you cannot summon Alexa without the dock.

Lenovo Smart Tab P10
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Lenovo Smart Tab P10

7. Amazon Echo Spot 2.5-inch Round

This small version of the Amazon Echo has a round display measuring 2.5-inch in diameter. It is more of a bed side, office table or coffee table smart alarm clock. It uses the 2nd generation far field voice recognition with 4 microphone array to access Alexa voice service.

While there is a 2W speaker on board, for better audio quality connect it to a powered speaker using the 3.5mm audio output or Bluetooth The biggest advantage has to be the built-in camera even in a small device like this for hands-free video calls to Skype, the Alexa app, another Echo Spot, or Echo Show.

8. Google Nest Hub Max 10-inch

The Google Nest Hub Max is very similar in design to the smaller Nets Hub. The differences are its bigger 10-inch display, stereo speaker arrangement and on-board web cam. It also features a speaker base like the 7-inch version.

nest hub max
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Where the software and interface are concerned, the Google Nest Hub Max uses the same interface, comes with built-in Chromecast support, YouTube access and smart home controls. Google Assistant of course takes centre stage ready to take voice commands and questions.

The 10-inch display has a user and touch friendly 16:10 aspect ratio. Together with the whilte bezel, it is no bigger than your typical tablet with a dimension of 178.5 x 118 x 67.3mm. Being bigger has its advantages. The bigger speaker base houses a 2.1 stereo speaker arrangement producing better sound quality and a full range audio.

Inclusion of the Nest Camera gives the display an altogether a different level of smart. It can take advantage of Nest Cam IQ, facial recognition capability that sends notifications when the kids are home or there is some one it does not recognise. However, this will require a Nest Award account.

What is a web camera if not for video chat. Beyond using it as a security camera, the onboard camera can be used to place video calls including conference calls with up to six parties. Facial recognition and gesture supports gives this web cam an edge over the competition. Video calls are made possible with Google Duo.

Both Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max are priced to compete directly with Amazon Echo Show and Echo Show 5.

BONUS: Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet with Show Mode Charging Dock

Sure, an Amazon Fire HD10 with Show Mode Charging Dock is a great Smart Display setup too but for a more manageable size, the Amazon Fire HD 8 is one to go for. Amazon offers this as a package at a discounted rate so you don’t have to buy them separately. However, combining the two does make it more expensive than other 8-inch displays but it comes with the advantage of being able to undock and take it with you as a tablet.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet with Show Mode Charging Dock
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Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet with Show Mode Charging Dock

As a tablet, the 8-inch HD device is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, has 1.5 GB of RAM and supports Dolby Audio. Snap on the case that comes with the charging dock and you have yourself a tablet which is also a smart display. Drop it into the adjustable magnetic charging dock and the tablet automatically switches to Show Mode.

There you can enjoy movies, TV shows, books, apps and games while the tablet is docked or pick it up to take your entertainment on the go. The 2MP front facing camera lets you make video calls via Drop-in.