Amazon Echo Show 15 Review

A Goldilocks kitchen TV with some bonus smart tricks.

Amazon’s Echo range continues to expand at a rapid rate, what started as a single small smart speaker has now grown into a double digits collection of smart devices for all situations. While initially an all audio affair, the expansion of the Echo Show range has seen increasingly large screens join the party.

The Echo Show 15 is the biggest of the lot, a photo frame for the 21st century this half TV half digital assistant is looking for a spot on your kitchen wall and in your daily routine. It’s a premium option though, while an Echo Dot will generally set you back around £50 the Echo Show 15 pushes the price tag to £279.99 – we’re not in the same leagues anymore

So let’s ask Alexa; is bigger better?

simply put

Purely as a digital assistant the Echo Show 15 is helpful without being a gamechanger however the inclusion of a fully featured Fire TV experience makes this an enticing kitchen smart screen.

the good bits

Pared back, classy design
Large, crisp screen
Full onboard Fire TV experience and apps
Some helpful quick glance widgets

the not so good bits

Combined touch and remote inputs are odd
UI can be sluggish
Some widgets aren’t as smart as they should be

check latest prices

Amazon Echo Show 15 Smart Display


Remember the digital photo frame craze that swept the world in 2010? Well Amazon is bringing it back, kind of.

A step away from the design styling of the rest of the Echo range, the Echo Show 15 does a good job of blending in with more traditional home decor. It may come in just one colour but the simple smooth black outer frame and white inner mount of the Echo Show 15 looks more than up to the job and won’t clash with even the loudest of wallpaper choices. It’s classy and isn’t in your face about being a smart device, I like it. Just like an actual picture in a frame, the front glass panel is a single pane with the 15.6” touch screen appearing slightly recessed into the mount, it’s a small detail I appreciated as when displaying a full screen photo you’d be forgiven for thinking it was real at a glance. 

Breaking new ground for the range, the Echo Show 15 is designed to hang on your wall rather than perch on top of a cabinet and Amazon includes all the necessary mounting hardware to make it happen. What if I can’t or simply don’t want to mount the Echo Show 15 on a wall though? Essentially the answer is ‘too bad’, Amazon doesn’t offer its own solution though there are a number of third party stands available some of which carry the ‘Made of Amazon’ seal of approval. I went even more basic in my testing, the frame edges are flat and nearly 2cm deep so I opted to just lay it on its side directly on my kitchen counter where it remained happily and stably enough for my needs.

check latest prices

While I can understand the concept of the Echo Show 15 is to be wall mounted and that’s its point of difference to the rest of the range, it feels like an oversight to not include an inbuilt kick stand or offer an official external mount. Lots of people rent and can’t just drill holes in the wall Jeff, c’mon man.

It’s an entirely plastic unit but build quality on the Amazon Echo Show 15 feels suitably strong across the board. The three subtle buttons in the top corner of the frame blend in nicely and I appreciated the physical camera cover which makes the inner mount a solid, seamless white when closed. The full HD 15.6” display itself is impressively bright and colourful and I was immediately impressed by the amount of detail in images and how sharp text was across the UI and in widgets. The Echo Show 15 display will also automatically adjust itself between portrait and landscape orientations if you rotate the device which offers a bit more flexibility with how you position it.


I find the Amazon Echo Show 15 a slightly curious device because it’s trying to be two things at once and will likely be a very different beast for one person than the next. As far as Amazon’s marketing team will convince you, the Echo Show 15 is the centre of your smart home. The large screen becomes a hub for day to day life and in testing I found it does a good, if a little underwhelming job of this.

Alexa is already a rent-free housemate of mine with a number of Echo and Fire TV devices dotted around so I know what she can do at a basic Echo Dot level. We talk daily, she’s a very helpful friend to have but as the premium option in the range I wanted to see what an extra £200 gets you, so I took a silent approach to the Show 15.  

You have two ways to interact silently with the Echo Show 15, you can tap and swipe your way through using the touch screen or you can take a couple of steps back and use a remote like the Alexa Voice Remote Pro. Interestingly, Amazon now no longer sells the Echo Show 15 on its own and only offers a bundle with the standard Alexa Voice Remote – you’ll still pay full RRP for both units, you just have to have them both at once. Odd and a little sneaky really.

check latest prices

You generally don’t get to choose when to use which input, you can’t use the remote to interact with menus or the home screen for example and you can’t use the touch screen inside a lot of third party apps. This gets a little messy as a result and takes some of the polish off the experience, having a big welcoming touch screen stubbornly refuse to be poked into doing something is annoying. Particularly when you remember this is supposed to be a wall mounted unit, where do I store the remote for a picture frame hanging on my kitchen wall? 

The touch screen itself is accurate for taps and gestures though I found the interface was always just that little bit slower to respond than I’d like. It’s fine for what it is, nobody is going to be flying through apps like you would on an iPad, but it’s sluggish to move between menu items and sometimes I went back for a second tap not knowing if it had recognised the first (which it always had, it was just thinking about its next move). The UI itself neatly laid out though with most settings and actions just a tap or two away. 

Homescreen widgets are the big ticket item for the Amazon Echo Show 15 and again this was a hit and miss experience that will come down to what you’re looking to get out of the device. The main screen splits in half to accommodate whichever widgets you choose alongside a familiar rotating Echo Show slideshow in the other half. Apps like the calendar and weather widgets are great, offering a glance view of what’s coming up that day while others feel poorly considered. I added a news widget expecting to see a list of headlines with the ability to tap to see more detail, nope, instead I got a BBC News logo that I can tap to hear a two minute audio newsflash – not exactly the same level of usefulness day to day.

Understandably the closer you stick to Amazon’s own apps and features the better the experience becomes. Adding sticky notes to the Echo Show 15 homescreen via the Alexa app is a neat option, though it’s a shame I couldn’t seem to ask Alexa to do this hands-free from another device. Drop Ins also worked well, both as a video calling solution and a home security option to make sure nobody was lurking about near my oven. Admittedly the quality of the 5MP camera feels a few years behind in terms of raw quality, though it’s fine for a quick catch up and while there’s no motorised tracking like the Echo Show 10 (which also features a camera with nearly 3x the megapixels), the 15 will digitally zoom and pan to follow you as you move in front of it.

Where I found the true value of the Echo Show 15 however and the use case it appears Amazon is starting to accept as the main seller is as a small-scale smart TV. As a kitchen media player I was genuinely impressed with the Fire TV experience in the Echo Show 15. Previously I’d often perch my iPad Pro on the kitchen counter to watch an episode of Masterchef while attempting to be one myself, now I use the Echo Show 15 instead.

A 1080p resolution on a screen of this size looks far sharper than full HD and while it’s hardly going to compete with a modern OLED screen, for casual viewing it’s superb and much better than I expected. The Fire TV interface will be familiar for those with another device like the Fire TV Cube and the same comprehensive selection of video apps are on offer, the major players like Netflix, YouTube, Plex and of course Prime Video are all here and work well – though you’ll need to use the remote (or a clunky software remote on the screen) to interact with almost all of them. 

Audio performance is acceptable though not strong enough to compete with other more speaker focused Echo Show models or dedicated smart speakers like the Sonos Era 100. For Drop In calls and dialogue heavy shows and podcasts it sounds fine – it’s a little vacant and hollow but not to the point of being an issue. Playing music is OK for the odd tune while making a coffee in the morning but I wouldn’t look to the Echo Show 15 as a daily driver if music is your main focus.

check latest prices

The speakers themselves are tucked into the rear body on the left and right edges and I found the positioning of the Echo Show 15 had a drastic impact on audio quality as a result. With it tucked into the corner of my kitchen counter a little twist or slide by a cm or two seemed to wildly improve or wreck how it sounded – not unexpected but something to consider when you’re picking a new home for the Show 15.

summed up

The Echo Show 15 is a new approach to a smart device from Amazon but unlike a simple Echo Dot, it won’t be for everyone. It looks elegant and classy with a vibrant, high quality 15.6″ screen, but purely as a connected smart home display it falls a little short for me. It’s good without being great, there are times it excelled and times it proved to be annoyingly close to helpful without that actually being the case.

Having Fire TV onboard changes the game entirely though. As a small yet impactful kitchen TV the Echo Show 15 is excellent and something I’ve used daily as a result. The screen is a Goldilocks size that’s small enough to not get in the way while giving you a large enough, high definition view of Gregg Wallace. Couple things with the couple of times I’ll take a glance at my upcoming appointments and the forecast and the Amazon Echo Show 15 becomes a complete package.

check latest prices