Echo Show 15 review

The smart display that’s also a smart TV – but is it a step too far for the Echo Show 15?

Luxury
Check price

Amazon was one of the first companies to develop smart displays, and its Echo Show range has been popular ever since.  

Powered by Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, Echo smart speakers and displays can be used to control smart home devices, play music, set alarms, and answer questions. The displays also have a number of other features available, such as the ability to stream video, make video calls, and display photos. 

Amazon’s latest smart display, the Echo Show 15, is its largest and most ambitious yet. With its expansive 15.6-inch touchscreen display, the Echo Show 15 is purpose-built to serve as the central hub for your smart home and family activities. Notably, it also comes integrated with Fire TV, enhancing its versatility, and potentially making it the most multifaceted Echo device in the market. The real question, though is does it truly live up to the hype? 

Amazon Echo Show 15 youtube screenCredit: Saga Exceptional

Amazon Echo Show 15

Luxury

At first glance, the Echo Show 15 is impressive. We loved the idea that you could use it for organisation but there were elements that we felt werent really thought through, such as the lack of a remote. Its not cheap either, so if youre taken by the streaming advantages, we suggest you buy a cheap smart TV and use a pinboard instead to organise your daily life. 

Design

Usability

Performance

Value


Who’s this for?

This is the perfect smart display for a busy family who want to be able to organise their lives digitally. The fact that it can also stream many of the major services is an added bonus, especially if you also need a second TV in the kitchen, for example.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Nice large screen
  • Easy to use and find content
  • Works as a Fire TV
  • Widgets make it a great organisational tool
  • Needs to be wall mounted
  • Underwhelming sound quality
  • High price
  • Really needs a Fire TV remote

Expect to pay

RRP: £269.95 What makes this display worth buying is the many deals you can find via Amazon. At the time of writing, it was down to £199, which makes it a good buy if you’re looking for a smart display with a larger screen.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Review method

How we test

We put every smart display we review through a rigorous testing process. We start by evaluating them in our Saga Exceptional testing centre, measuring aspects such as noise output and sound quality. Then, we take them home and integrate them into our daily lives for at least a week. 

During this time, we use the smart displays for everything, from streaming our favourite shows to controlling our smart home devices. We also test their built-in virtual assistants to see how well they respond to our requests and what additional features they might have to improve our daily lives. 

After a week of testing, we have a good understanding of each smart display’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Advertisement

Amazon Echo Show 15 Setup

Basic DIY skills required

As with all the other Echo Show displays, you just plug it in and go. However, this smart display is made to be wall mounted. While it does come with the necessary fixtures and instructions for this, you do need the tools and skill to be able to do it.  

For the purpose of this testing period, though, we stood it up; while it was OK that way, if your DIY skills are lacking, you may want to buy the additional stand to help keep it upright in a more secure fashion. This stand also allows you to change easily between portrait and landscape mode, which is a nice touch. 

Featured product

Tilt Stand for Echo Show 15

RRP: £33.99

Tilt Stand for Echo Show 15

From opening the box to getting it working took us one to two minutes maximum. We must confess here, though, to the fact that we are firmly ensconced in the Amazon way of life. We have various Echo Dot speakers and a small Echo Show smart display. We use Amazon music, Amazon Prime for viewing, and also shop way too much on Amazon.co.uk. This made the setup process very simple. We went into our Alexa app, and because all our information – such as our Amazon account details – was already there, the app did everything for us. 

Even if you are setting this up for the first time, the Alexa app is fairly intuitive and does all the hard work for you. You will need a smartphone or tablet, the Alexa app and an Amazon account to get your smart display working, so make sure you’ve got all that sorted before you get it out of the box.  

This Echo Show uses a power cable. We liked that it was white as it blended in with our walls and surface, but at just 1.5m (just under 4ft) it could have been longer, especially as it’s designed to be mounted on a wall. We’re not sure it would have reached our plug if we had chosen to hang it at eye level. You can buy a cable extension, though, which does double the length so that could be a good option if you do struggle with placement.

Featured product

Extension Cable for Echo Show 15

RRP: £14.99

Extension Cable for Echo Show 15

Amazon Echo Show 15 Design

Picture frame design is simple

As it’s designed to be wall mounted, it’s probably no surprise that this smart display is flat and looks like a mixture between a giant tablet and a large photo frame.

While it’s basic, the black and white design is simple and minimalistic, and when the screensaver was activated – we chose the art setting – it looked like a painting. We can imagine it would look great on the wall. If you want to add the personal touch you can also upload your photos and use it as a giant photo frame. 

It’s not made to be hidden and would make a great addition to a kitchen, owing to its organisational abilities and the fact it’s the perfect size to either watch TV while you’re cooking or to follow recipes from.  

This is a smart display that’s made primarily to be used with your voice and the touchscreen. However, if you want to make the most of the integrated Fire TV option, a remote is also a good idea.  

At first, we opted for the virtual remote, but it didn’t really work with some streaming services, such as Disney+. Then we remembered the Fire Stick app, which turns your phone into a remote so ended up pairing that with the Echo Show 15, which was straightforward. The app finds the device, a number comes up on the screen and you’re ready to go. If you really don’t like the thought of using your phone for this, you can also purchase an additional Fire TV remote if you don’t already have one. 

Featured product

Alexa Voice Remote (3rd generation) with TV Controls

RRP: £29.99

Alexa Voice Remote (3rd generation) with TV Controls
Advertisement

Amazon Echo Show 15 Usability

Easy to access content, whether audio or visual

All Echo devices come with Alexa as their voice assistant. We put it to the test, throwing a variety of generic questions its way, from finding local movie listings to fetching Audible books and sourcing recipes with chicken. The device showcased its intuitive nature, but some tasks demanded follow-ups with touch screen interactions, making the screen placement crucial for easy access – a notable difference from its smaller counterparts, like the Echo Show 5. 

The device shines when it comes to finding content, which is really easy. Whether it’s radio stations, favourite albums, or streaming TV shows, the Echo Show 15 allows seamless interaction. Visual displays accompany most queries, offering additional information or stats that can be explored further.

The follow-up mode, which allows you to ask another question without the Alexa wake word is a nice touch, although occasional volume control issues were encountered, requiring a raised voice to be heard. 

Voice recognition, for the most part, was accurate. However, hiccups occurred, especially when enquiring about specific topics, such as a band’s new album, leading to unexpected results. The touchscreen, while generally responsive, had its moments of freezing, notably during attempts to log into apps like Disney+. 

The Echo Show 15’s most compelling feature lies in its home page, offering a well-organised hub for the entire family. Over 60 widgets, ranging from to-do lists to sticky notes, can be personalised. However, the screen’s layout limits widget space – as it’s partially occupied by content like recipes or recent activities – which left us wanting more room for widgets. You’re only able to see six at a time, so if you have more widgets that you regularly use, it’s a bit annoying.  

Connectivity with phones and tablets is seamless, with easy Bluetooth pairing enabling streaming from various platforms. One thing we noticed, though, is that multitasking between the Echo Show and your phone might result in the device abruptly switching to your phone’s content, which definitely disrupted our experience. 

When it comes to accessibility, the device boasts features like a magnifying touchscreen and voice assistant, offering users more time to interact. However, we were disappointed to find we couldn’t use gestures, a convenient feature found in other models, which allows users the ability to control alarms and timers with simple hand waves. 

Amazon Echo Show 15 Performance

Great visuals, not so great sound

Diving into the Alexa Echo Show 15’s streaming capabilities, it’s clear that Amazon’s device offers a wide array of options. From music to podcasts, books, and TV shows, the Echo Show 15 can handle various content types seamlessly. You can stream from platforms like Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and more, making it a versatile choice for entertainment enthusiasts. 

However, our testing did reveal some hiccups. If you’ve got more than one Echo device and want to stream Amazon Music, you’ll need to get the family plan, otherwise only one Echo device can play music at one time. We got round this by linking our Apple Music device; however, you have to specify you want to stream it from Apple in your voice command or it will go to the default music service, which in our case was Amazon. 

Additionally, occasional audio glitches surfaced during our tests, necessitating a quick reboot to rectify the issue. Although these interruptions were manageable, they did disrupt the overall experience. 

Moving on to audio performance, the Echo Show 15 features 2 x 1.6in full-range backfiring speakers. Positioned at the back and directed towards the wall means that sound quality is compromised. Our head of testing Philip Sowels, says: “The speakers lack any real base or treble, and offer a tinny sound instead of providing any warmth.” 

While spoken word content like podcasts and books sounded decent, music enthusiasts seeking rich audio experiences might find the sound lacking. To improve music playback, investing in the separate stand and positioning the device away from the wall is recommended. 

The larger screen size makes it ideal for watching various content types. The large lyrics displayed during music playback enhance karaoke nights, adding a fun dimension to entertainment. However, the 16:9 screen ratio means you do get black bars when viewing widescreen movies, and the white picture frame design doesn’t contribute to an immersive viewing experience. 

Amazon Echo Show 15 Extras

Don’t forget your smart home devices

One of the things we loved about the Echo Show 15 was its ability to function as a digital photo frame. Displaying photos on its large screen was a visual treat, although there were minor drawbacks, especially with portrait-oriented images from mobile phones, which didn’t always fill the entire screen. Despite this, it offered a nice way to showcase family photos that often remain confined to our phones. 

Beyond its role as a photo frame, the Echo Show 15 proved its worth in transforming homes into smart havens. We seamlessly created routines, such as commanding “Alexa, good night”, which promptly switched off our smart lights. Morning routines were equally convenient, with the device playing our favourite radio station to kickstart our working day. 

Thanks to the expansive screen, the device’s camera provided excellent coverage, capturing our entire office space. When wall-mounted, its potential is even more significant, promising pretty good surveillance and security features.  

As with all Echo devices, you can drop into any other Amazon display or speaker. But what we loved about the Echo Show 15 is that the camera follows your movements, ensuring you remain centred in the frame. This feature allows for dynamic conversations, and we were able to cook dinner while catching up with friends. 

Additionally, the Echo Show 15 offers the ability to make regular phone calls, even without pre-stored contact details. Alexa simply prompts you to input the number using the touchscreen, streamlining the calling process. 

Amazon Echo Show 15 Value

Good value if you’re after a large display

Considering its size, the Echo Show 15 offers decent value, especially when you can frequently find it at discounted prices during events like Prime Days and other promotions on Amazon. 

However, a notable drawback is its heavy reliance on a remote, a feature that one might expect to be included at this price point. Both the Prime Video app and Fire TV interface can be controlled by tapping the screen, but not all Fire TV apps support touch controls. 

Overall, we enjoyed the Echo Show 15’s larger screen, but we’re not sure whether we would replace it if it broke. The Echo Show 10 is only a little cheaper, and it would probably suffice for all our needs. 

Amazon Echo Show 15 Competition

Other smart displays with larger screens

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd generation)

While the screen on the Echo Show 10 is 5in smaller than the Echo Show 15, the thing that sets this smart display apart is its ability to move with you. The screen automatically moves to wherever you are, meaning you can take video calls or cook recipes while you’re moving around the room. The speakers also deliver directional sound to ensure you have the best audio quality.

Featured product

Echo Show 10 (3rd generation)

RRP: £259.99

Echo Show 10 (3rd generation)

Amazon Fire TV 43in 4K UHD smart TV 

If you’re prioritising TV viewing, then you can’t go wrong with one of Amazon’s Fire TVs. Not only can you get all your favourite streaming services through the TV, but it also comes with some Alexa capabilities including various Alexa skills, voice functionality and the ability to connect to smart home devices.

Featured product

Amazon Fire TV 43-inch 4-series 4K UHD Smart TV

RRP: £429.99

Amazon Fire TV 43-inch 4-series 4K UHD Smart TV

Amazon Echo Show 15 Final verdict

Not using its full potential

The Echo Show 15 is a gadget with an identity crisis – it doesn’t know if it’s a smart display or a smart TV. 

It is large enough to enjoy casual viewing, but it doesn’t come with a remote, making it difficult to watch some streaming services. Additionally, the potential of the large screen for a digital pin-board remains underutilized, with only half of it dedicated to widgets, missing an opportunity for enhanced functionality. 

This identity crisis is evident in other ways as well. The Echo Show 15 is designed to be wall-mounted, but it’s so big that it’s only really suitable for large spaces, especially if you want to use it on a stand. And the touchscreen, while responsive, isn’t used to its full potential, particularly in interactions with Alexa. Instead of offering immersive touchscreen experiences, it primarily displays Alexa’s responses in text format, missing a chance for more engaging interactions. 

For those seeking a device solely for displaying YouTube videos, playing radio stations, and occasional TV shows, investing in a smart TV might be a wiser choice. Not only would a smart TV likely offer superior sound quality, but it would also provide a more seamless viewing experience. 

Despite its flaws, the Echo Show 15 is not the worst smart display available, and it does showcase the capabilities of Alexa, a voice assistant we genuinely like using. However, considering Amazon’s track record, we know they are capable of delivering better products than this, so it wouldn’t make it to the top of our smart display list.

Amazon Echo Show 15

Luxury

At first glance, the Echo Show 15 is impressive. We loved the idea that you could use it for organisation but there were elements that we felt werent really thought through, such as the lack of a remote. Its not cheap either, so if youre taken by the streaming advantages, we suggest you buy a cheap smart TV and use a pinboard instead to organise your daily life. 

Design

It’s looks like a photo frame, which is great for displaying images, but not so great when you’re using it as a smart TV.

Usability

Alexa is pretty good when it comes to understanding what you want and we found it super easy to find all sorts of content to play.

Performance

Don’t buy this smart display if you’re a music lover. The wall mounted display has a tinny sound. Fine for casual TV viewing or listening to the spoken word.

Value

While you do get a big screen, it’s a pricey smart display. It also really needs a Fire TV remote to get the most out of it but that – and the stand – cost extra, which all adds up.


Who’s this for?

This is the perfect smart display for a busy family who want to be able to organise their lives digitally. The fact that it can also stream many of the major services is an added bonus, especially if you also need a second TV in the kitchen, for example.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Nice large screen
  • Easy to use and find content
  • Works as a Fire TV
  • Widgets make it a great organisational tool
  • Needs to be wall mounted
  • Underwhelming sound quality
  • High price
  • Really needs a Fire TV remote

Expect to pay

RRP: £269.95 What makes this display worth buying is the many deals you can find via Amazon. At the time of writing, it was down to £199, which makes it a good buy if you’re looking for a smart display with a larger screen.

Amazon Echo Show 15 Specs

Release year 2021
Dimensions 25.5cm x 40.5cm x 3.5cm (10in x 15in x 1in). Add 4cm (1.5in) if you use the wall mounted bracket
Weight 2.3kg (5lb), including wall bracket
Power Mains Power Input – Micro USB Port
Screen size 15.6in (40cm)
Screen resolution HD, 1920 x 1080
Internal speakers 2 x 1.6in (4cm) full-range backfiring speakers
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks
Bluetooth Yes
Smart Home support It’s compatible with most smart home devices and brands, including Dyson, Eufy and Hive
Advertisement
Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her

Updated:

Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

  • twitter
  • linkedin
  • Email