For the higher a part of the final 20 years, my household has had a TV in our kitchen. It was the most cost effective 19-inch flat display I might discover on the time — a 720p Sharp mannequin — and we hooked it as much as our cable connection and a Tivoli One speaker for higher sound. It labored simply positive — no complaints. However when Amazon requested if I needed to strive swapping that historic rig out for one thing a bit extra trendy, like an Amazon Echo Show 15 with its newest Fire TV update, I figured why not? Three weeks into the experiment, right here’s the way it’s going.

You’re gonna want a mount …

In case you additionally plan on doing the entire replace-the-kitchen-TV factor, be ready to spend a bit greater than the $250 value of an Echo Present 15. Out of the field, it can only mount to a flat wall surface. In case you’re fortunate sufficient to have a kitchen that has an accessible clean patch of wall that can be seen from quite a lot of angles, you simply saved some money. However I used to be not so lucky and needed to ask Amazon’s reps for assist. They kindly despatched a Sanus Tilt Stand ($32), which let me sit the Echo Present on the countertop the place the TV had been.

The Tilt stand is an honest price range choice, supplying you with the power to tilt the display from vertical to leaned method again. Flip the entire unit in no matter path is sensible and also you’re good to go. Nonetheless, if I made a decision to make the Echo Present a everlasting addition (and I would nonetheless do this), I’d spend a bit extra and go for one in every of a number of under-counter-mounts that may droop the Echo Present whereas supplying you with full freedom of motion together with angle, tilt, and rotation (when not in Hearth TV mode, the Echo Present 15 works in portrait orientation too).

One factor to bear in mind in the event you determine to wall-mount: viewing angles on LCD panels aren’t the best. As these units go, the Echo Present really is healthier than most. However in the event you can’t discover a wall spot that can provide a more-or-less perpendicular viewing angle out of your highest-traffic kitchen spots, you’ll need a mount that has an adjustable angle and tilt.

… and a distant

Amazon Echo Show 15 showing Fire TV experience, with an Amazon Fire TV voice remote in the foreground.
Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

The opposite factor you will have if you’d like the Hearth TV expertise is a Hearth TV distant. I used to be ready to make use of an present second-gen Hearth TV distant, however Amazon recommends (as do I) the most recent third-gen Alexa Voice Distant for Hearth TV ($30) or Voice Remote Pro.

Why? The Echo Present 15 is a touchscreen gadget, however the Hearth TV interface wasn’t designed for touchscreens, so there’s a restrict to what you are able to do with contact alone. Navigating the first-level dwelling display, with its giant tiles for reveals, motion pictures, and third-party apps, is straightforward sufficient, nevertheless it will get a lot more durable when you get into the apps themselves. In case you don’t have a distant, the Echo Present takes pity on you by offering an on-screen digital distant. However, belief me, that factor is a ache to make use of. Furthermore, if it is a TV alternative, why would you wish to stroll over to it each time you needed to vary one thing? A bodily distant is a should.

Professional tip: it can save you your self the $30 and use the Hearth TV app in your cellphone as a distant.

Wait, what about Alexa?

Amazon Echo Show 15 showing Fire TV touch remote.
Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

As an Echo product, Amazon’s voice assistant is entrance and middle as the first method you’re inspired to work together with the Echo Present 15. Previous to the introduction of the Hearth TV expertise, this made sense: the entire body’s options may be simply managed by way of voice command. To an extent, Alexa might help out with Hearth TV actions too, however as with the touchscreen choice, you rapidly run into limitations.

Getting Alexa to fireplace up your favourite app like Disney+ or Netflix is a cinch, and you’ll even get particular about which present you need. Play, pause, and quantity management are all equally accessible by way of voice. However the act of looking for content material — scrolling via tiles and present descriptions — or any form of in-app navigation is inconceivable. So long as you consider Alexa as a magical, voice-controlled shortcut genie, you received’t be dissatisfied.

Trying good

The Echo Present 15 affords a vibrant, crisp display that works nicely for almost any informal viewing you may wish to do. Newscasts, cooking reveals, sport reveals, and reruns of your favourite sitcoms are all completely suited to the gadget’s show.

Its 1080p Full HD decision can be greater than ample when you think about how small it’s, and as for the lacking HDR functionality? Positive, HDR could be nice, however given you can’t discover this characteristic on any standard TV smaller than 32 inches, its absence isn’t a deal-breaker.

Prepared to chop the wire?

With the addition of the Hearth TV interface and a distant, the Echo Present 15 feels rather a lot like a daily good TV. Simply be sure to’re ready for the methods wherein it’s not like a TV. As an example, excluding a Micro-USB port on the again (which is strictly to be used with an Ethernet adapter), there are not any inputs or outputs of any sort.

Our Tivoli One speaker, which offered method higher sound for the outdated Sharp TV, now sits idle — there’s no analog output from the Echo Present. Our cable field languishes too — with none HDMI inputs, there’s no method to join it — or every other units.

In case you’ve gone 100% streaming, this may occasionally not matter. In spite of everything, the Hearth TV interface helps nearly each streaming app you could possibly ask for.

You could possibly cobble collectively sufficient channel-specific apps to make do. I used to be ready so as to add CNN, CTV, and CBC apps, however that’s nonetheless a far cry from the entire channels I can usually entry. Furthermore, regardless that the Hearth TV interface affords a reside TV information view, it doesn’t seem to have the ability to pull in knowledge from apps that require subscription authentication, like CNN and CTV.

In case you wish to get your native TV stations free, over the air by way of an antenna, this additionally turns into more durable. With no antenna enter or built-in tuner, the one method to do OTA on the Echo Present is by way of an OTA receiver that helps Wi-Fi streaming and has an accessible Hearth TV app. There are a number of of those, together with fashions from Tablo, SiliconDust, and AirTV, however you’ll must issue that additional expense ($100 to $200) into your calculations.

Oh, and yet one more factor: the Echo Present is likely to be Hearth TV-savvy, nevertheless it’s not a real Hearth TV gadget — you possibly can’t forged or screen-mirror to it like a Hearth TV Stick (a minimum of, not and not using a crazy-complex, multi-step, app-based solution) — and there’s no help for cloud gaming providers but, together with Amazon’s personal Luna.

Does it exchange a kitchen TV?

Close-up of the camera on an Amazon Echo Show 15.
Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

Regardless of its shortcomings as an precise TV, I feel the Echo Present 15 — when you add the distant and presumably a mount — works rather well as a kitchen TV alternative. The Hearth TV interface, whereas not as intuitive as an Apple TV or a Roku, continues to be completely able to supplying you with entry to all your favourite subscription and free streaming apps, which for most people, might be all you want.

The onboard audio system aren’t superpowerful and the sound high quality is barely common, however that’s true of nearly any small-size TV, too. You may’t join the body to a wired speaker, however Bluetooth is an choice, so that you may already personal a wi-fi speaker that can work as nicely or higher than a wired unit.

Plus, my household is in settlement: the Echo Present 15, with its matted-picture body styling, is far more enticing than our mid-2000s classic Sharp.

A couple of extra ideas on the Echo Present 15

OK, the Echo Present 15 can exchange a kitchen TV, however how has it been, usually talking, to reside with this good display in one of many busiest rooms in the home? I’ve a number of ideas.

It may drive you mad

One of many main promoting factors of the Echo Present 15 is its always-on show that may present you a collage of useful data panels, like an Amazon Pictures slideshow, good dwelling shortcuts (lighting, cameras, thermostats, and so on.), and Alexa-driven reminders for the household.

However the continually altering and shifting show is distracting. I’m the form of one who freezes in place when there’s a present or film enjoying (don’t even strive speaking to me earlier than you hit the mute or pause button); the Echo Present’s “present” exerts a robust tug.

That digital camera is superior

Amazon Echo Show 15 remote camera view.I’m nonetheless kinda bummed you can solely video chat with different individuals who even have camera-equipped Echo units, or have the Alexa app on their cellphone or pill, however I’m mightily impressed with the Echo Present’s built-in digital camera.

Our kitchen is fairly well-lit, however hardly what I’d name “vibrant” and but the digital camera’s picture is a minimum of nearly as good as what I’m used to getting from the built-in digital camera on my 2021 MacBook Air. Plus, its potential to auto-follow and zoom to maintain the present speaker within the body works rather well.

Leaves you wanting extra

Due to its dimension and form, the Echo Present 15 seems like a pill — a sensation that’s strengthened by its contact interface. Many times, I needed to make use of it like a pill, beginning with the house display widgets. That’s very true of Amazon Music, which teases you with music suggestions however doesn’t really allow you to work together with the total Amazon Music app. Need to browse for a particular track, playlist, or album? You’ll want to achieve on your cellphone or strive your luck by asking Alexa.

Others have identified that Amazon’s Echo Present units don’t actually provide a lot past what screenless Echo units can do, so that is hardly a brand new grievance. It’s simply that on the Echo Present 15’s super-generous display, that limitation feels much more unfair. If Amazon gave this gadget the total Hearth TV pill therapy, it might be way more succesful.

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