The second-generation Echo Show is better than the first in every respect, ranging from its industrial design to its audio and video performance. It's the best smart display today, but that could change as soon as tomorrow if Google announces its own smart display and it turns out to be great. Sonos, meanwhile, still has the best smart speakers for music (the Sonos One and the Sonos Beam). While the second-generation Echo Show is powered by the same system-on-chip as the first-generation Echo Show (a quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8350), the new model is outfitted with a larger, higher-resolution display; better loudspeakers; a more attractive enclosure; an integrated ZigBee smart home hub; and even the option for hardwired ethernet. Alexa is also becoming a better digital assistant, a development that will improve every Echo model.
Your message has been sent. There was an error emailing this page. You don't need to live in a smart home to benefit from a Wi-Fi-connected smart speaker. Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and other digital assistants can help you in dozens of ways, and you don't have to lift a finger to summon them--just speak their names. If you already know you want a smart speaker, scroll down for our top recommendations.
The Amazon Echo, powered by Amazon's Alexa digital assistant, were breakthrough products that forever changed how we control our smart homes. The inexpensive Echo Dot that came later made it possible to put Alexa in every room of a home without spending a fortune. The second-generation Echo is better and less-expensive than the first full-sized Echo, but it's not nearly as important as those first three products. The new Echo is roughly 1/4-inch wider than the original, but it's about three inches shorter. That makes it much less likely to topple over than the too-tall original.
Google surprised everyone at CES last January when it announced partnerships with various companies, including computer builder Lenovo and home-audio stalwart JBL, to build Google Assistant-powered smart speakers with touchscreens. Lenovo, a company with no real experience building home audio gear, came to market first with the Lenovo Smart Display (we reviewed the 10-inch model and liked it--a lot). The JBL Link View is even better--at least from an audio perspective. The JBL Link View competes more directly with the 8-inch Lenovo Smart Display, which Lenovo was kind enough to loan for a look-see. It should come as no surprise that the biggest difference between the two speakers is that JBL provides true stereo drivers and a 5-inch, rear-mounted passive radiator that pumps the bass even when the speaker isn't placed against a wall (the better to bounce sound back toward you).