Is the Amazon Echo 15-inch Wi-Fi frame worth it?
The Amazon Echo 15-inch Wi-Fi frame is one of Amazon’s latest smart displays to hit the market. To summarize this product in one word would be “rushed”. It has the potential to be quite a capable smart hub for the modern home and family – but falls short in many ways.
One of the biggest shortfalls with the Echo 15 is that it doesn’t deliver effectively as either a digital picture frame or a smart hub. With only 14 widgets and a confusing, frustrating interface, it’s a very niche product. Amazon is not known for intuitive software or excellent hardware.
That being said, the hardware of the Amazon Echo 15 is decent – but not excellent. For what you pay, you’d expect something that more closely resembles a smart hub for your home. Many expect the Echo 15 to perform like a Fire tablet, but this isn’t the case. Touches are slow to respond on the screen, settings are limited, and there seem to be many more cons than pros to these frames – particularly at this price point.
Key features are missing like a permanent full-screen calendar, automatic photo slideshows, good sound quality, customizable widgets, and more. The Amazon software and interface are lackluster, being hard to use and tough to get used to – especially for elderly users.
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on Amazon’s part before the Echo 15 Wi-Fi frame can effectively compete with other smart hubs on the market. They need to deliver more widgets, customizations for slideshows, improved multimedia consumption, and include better hardware support like a longer power cable for versatile wall mounting options.
When compared to premium digital picture frames, the Amazon Echo falls horrifically short. The Echo 15-inch frame’s slideshows are extremely limited. You have to manually start each slideshow and this takes a while to learn how to do. Slideshows are often interrupted to return to the split home screen display.
High-end digital frames with Wi-Fi like the Pix-Star easily fix these issues. They offer versatile slideshow settings, let you include videos in slideshows, and give you control over the order, style, and speed of slideshows. Pix-Star takes this a step further by letting you remotely start slideshows, create slideshows from specific files and folders, and even link albums from a dozen external sources like social media. We dive into Pix-Star’s frame in more depth in the next section.
In summary, the Amazon Echo 15-inch Wi-Fi frame is a very niche device that doesn’t have a set place on the market. They attempt to be a smart hub and a digital Wi-Fi frame but end up falling short at both. They don’t have enough widgets, synchronizations, and customizations to compete with dedicated smart hubs – and they don’t have good enough slideshows and photo-sharing features to compete with premium digital picture frames.
If you need a smart hub, get a smart hub. This Amazon Echo 15 is a smart display and doesn’t have everything you’d need or expect. If you want a way to share, view, and experience your favorite memories and photos, get a digital frame with Wi-Fi like the Pix-Star 15-inch digital frame.
How does the 15-inch Amazon Echo frame compare with the Pix-Star frame?
The Amazon Echo 15-inch Wi-Fi frame is a smart display (not a smart hub as many mistakenly assume) that’s very new to the market. They’re not the easiest devices to use – especially for elderly users and families. While these devices are quite “smart”, they don’t interconnect well and make connecting with your loved ones overly complicated.
When it comes to photo-sharing and viewing, the digital picture frame with Wi-Fi is arguably the best. Here, the Pix-Star 15-inch Wi-Fi picture frame easily stands out as one of the most robust and complete digital frames on the market. They’re affordable, incredibly versatile, and effortlessly cater to the modern home and family.
Pix-Star’s frames offer free-for-life cloud storage, extensive Wi-Fi connectivity, and a host of easy to use and customized features like advanced slideshows, remote configuration support, a mobile app & web app, photo album imports from a dozen external sources, photo-mail, weather & alerts, games, and much more.
The most immediate difference between Pix-Star’s 15-inch frame and Amazon’s Echo 15 is their slideshows. Pix-Star’s frames offer much more versatile slideshows, with easy-to-customize and personalized settings. You can control the play order and frequency of slideshows, setting the frame to play recent/older photos more often, including videos in slideshows, and much more.
Pix-Star starts to shine for families and elderly users. Much of this is due to their remote configuration support and web albums feature. The remote configuration feature lets you manage and control up to 25 Pix-Star frames from a single user account via the web dashboard.
With Pix-Star’s remote-control feature, you can adjust any of your Pix-Star frame’s settings, start & control slideshows, manage local & cloud storage, update their firmware, import photo albums, and much more – no matter where you are in the world. It’s the ideal feature for families with members all over the state/country (or across several different homes), and those with users that aren’t very tech-savvy.
Pix-Star’s web album feature ties in perfectly with their remote configuration support. Here, you can use the web interface to import photo albums from a dozen external sources. These sources include social media like Facebook and Instagram, photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Google Photos, and online storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive.
You can even sync a folder from your computer to any of your Pix-Star frames. Set this folder to update automatically, drag-and-drop photos into it, and Pix-Star will sync them automatically to all connected frames. Repeat this process for any of the externally linked web albums to automate the photo-sharing process! It’s intuitive, easy to set up, and perfect for the modern home & family.
As a digital picture frame, Pix-Star easily outclasses the Amazon Echo 15-inch Wi-Fi frame. It’s more versatile and functional, far more immersive, and better suited to families and elderly users. Pix-Star’s frames also cost quite a bit less, with both their 10-inch and 15-inch frames being cheaper than the Amazon Echo 15.
Despite not being a “smart hub”, Pix-Star’s frames still let you play 2-minute video clips and send audio recordings via the Pix-Star Snap mobile app. You can play audio over slideshows from a connected USB/SD card, use the USB/SD card as “unlimited” external storage (play slideshows directly off the USB/SD card), and much more.
Pix-Star’s frames can mount on the wall and support both landscape and portrait orientations. They’re easy to set up, simple to use, and give you all the features you’d need from a Wi-Fi digital frame for the modern home & family. You get excellent value for money and a frame that beats almost every other option on the market! Pix-Star helps you stay connected with your loved ones, sharing and experiencing your most special moments, photos, and videos without all the unnecessary frustrations!
What features does the Amazon Echo 15-inch frame offer?
The Amazon Echo 15-inch frame only offers 14 widgets that you can use on the home screen. The home screen displays these widgets in a split layout and you cannot make widgets full screen by default. To view a widget in full screen (e.g., the calendar widget), you need to click on it – but it will go back to the standard split-screen after a short while if not used.
One of the main complaints against the Amazon Echo 15 is the lack of customizability. You have very little control over the appearance and functionality of widgets and features. This severe limit to functionality affects the frame’s overall performance – especially if you’re expecting a smart hub for your home.
While you do get access to content streaming platforms like Spotify, Audible, YouTube, etc., they often don’t connect or work as expected. Amazon’s software is renowned for being unresponsive and unintuitive. It’s usable, but not what you’d want from a “smart” display or hub for families and modern homes.
Other features that the Amazon Echo 15 offers are shared calendars, sticky notes, alerts and reminders, shopping lists, etc. There’s also basic Alexa integration that doesn’t always work. If done right, you should be able to order food, sync with Audible and Spotify, and potentially import photos from Amazon Photos and Facebook.
In terms of slideshows and viewing photos, the Amazon Echo 15 is nowhere near what premium digital frames offer (in terms of features and functionality). You don’t have any control over the order and frequency in which photos display. You can only play all the photos stored on the Echo 15 in their original order or randomized. There’s no way to play specific photos from selected files and folders (something that Pix-Star digital frames offer).
Slideshow settings are very limited and there aren’t many stylistic elements that can be customized. The 16:9 display isn’t great for photo playback and most of them will have black bars around the sides of the photo. There’s no intuitive mobile app that lets you share photos with the frame on the go.
All of this comes together to make the Amazon Echo 15 rather underwhelming as a digital picture frame – despite having a decent display resolution and good video support.
Does the Amazon Echo 15-inch Wi-Fi frame have speakers?
Amazon’s Echo 15 Wi-Fi frame has 2 x 1.6” speakers. The sound quality isn’t the best and is not on par with most popular smart hubs. That being said, the Amazon Echo range is pegged as a smart display, not a smart hub. This is one of their major issues as many users expect a smart hub, instead of getting a “jack of all trades but master of none”.
If you want a digital display with decent audio quality, the Pix-Star frame is a great choice. It offers good value for money and supports both video and audio playback. Pix-Star’s frames can connect to external speakers/headphones/earphones via their USB port and 3.5mm audio port. You can play audio over slideshows, play the audio recorded with videos, and even send voice messages via the Pix-Star Snap mobile app!
Can the Amazon Echo 15 play videos?
The Amazon Echo 15-inch smart display can play videos and audio. That being said, videos cannot play in slideshows alongside photos. You need to connect and sync with content streaming platforms such as YouTube – but be warned, the setup process and ease of use are sub-par and not ideal for elderly users.
With digital displays like the Pix-Star, while the maximum video length is shorter (two minutes), they can play in slideshows along with photos and audio files. You can send video clips to your Pix-Star frames from anywhere in the world using the Pix-Star mobile app. Alternatively, you can load video files to the frame via a connected USB/SD card.
How do slideshows work on the Amazon Echo 15-inch frame?
As a digital picture frame with photo slideshows, the Amazon Echo 15 is far from the standard at this price point. Their slideshows are extremely limited and are hard to use. Where a digital frame offers features like automatic slideshows when the frame isn’t in use, the Echo 15 requires slideshows to be started manually.
Despite being a hybrid between a digital frame and a smart hub, the Amazon Echo 15-inch frame doesn’t do either function well. Compared to premium digital picture frames with Wi-Fi like the Pix-Star, the Echo 15 is miles behind in terms of slideshows features, settings, and photo-sharing functionality.
Additionally, Pix-Star’s 4:3 aspect ratio is far better suited to photo slideshows than the Echo 15. Since most of the photos we take are with our smartphones (that in turn capture most photos in 4:3), digital displays with 4:3 screens are more immersive. You don’t need to deal with cropping or photos surrounded by black bars.
Digital picture frames like the Pix-Star offer a host of slideshow settings and features. For example, you can adjust the play order and frequency of photos, start slideshows from specific files and folders, add music to slideshows, play video alongside photos, and much more. You can remotely start and manage slideshows from anywhere via the frame’s web dashboard.
Can the Amazon Echo 15 switch orientations?
Like most premium digital photo frames with Wi-Fi, the Amazon Echo 15-inch frame can display and work in both landscape and portrait orientations. The issue here is the aspect ratio. Given that the Echo frame uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, it’s rather wide. This doesn’t translate well for immersive slideshows in which the photos fill the whole display.
Top digital frames like the Pix-Star that use a 4:3 display are probably better for use in either orientation. There won’t be much black space around photos and they don’t need manual editing or cropping before sending them to the frame. This is especially true if you take most of your photos on your smartphone or DSLR.
Does the 15-inch Wi-Fi Amazon Echo work with Alexa?
The 15-inch Amazon Echo Wi-Fi frame offers Alexa integration – but it’s not as good as you’d expect. You probably won’t use most of the enabled features in the real world, with most of them not being practical or too hard to set up.
If the frame is for families and elderly users, Alexa integration has a steep learning curve. While there are uses for some users, for most people, you’d be better off getting either a smart hub or a digital picture frame.
The Echo 15 has a handful of features that work with Alexa such as ordering food, shared calendars, and alerts & reminders. That being said, many digital frames like the Pix-Star offer similar features. You can set alerts & reminders in the web dashboard, view weather updates in slideshows, and more.
Does the Amazon Echo 15 charge any subscription fees?
There are no mandatory monthly or subscription fees required for the Amazon Echo 15 to work normally. The only monthly subscription available is for additional Alexa support. This unlocks a couple of features and makes setting up Alexa integration easier – but is not required.
This lack of monthly fees pulls some users away from alternatives such as Dakboard – but certainly doesn’t do any favors for its real-world functionality. This is evidenced by the poor user experience, clunky and hard-to-customize user interface, and sub-par software.
We would suggest either getting a dedicated digital picture frame and/or a smart hub. Hybrids like the Amazon Echo 15-inch smart display may seem great on paper but fall well short of the mark in the real world. This is especially true if you’re expecting the functionality and performance of either a Wi-Fi digital frame or a smart hub!
We’d recommend avoiding digital picture frames that charge subscription fees like the Skylight or Nixplay digital Wi-Fi frame. They don’t offer enough unique features to justify the recurring monthly fee – and similar frames like the Pix-Star offer more features without charging a cent extra!
What aspect ratio does the Echo 15-inch frame by Amazon use?
The Amazon Echo 15-inch Wi-Fi frame uses a 16:9 aspect ratio. While this is better for video playback, it’s not good for photo slideshows. Almost all photos require editing before sending them to the frame. If you don’t edit or resize each photo, they’ll be zoomed, cropped, distorted, and/or boxed in by black bars on the Echo 15.
This is one of the main reasons that popular Wi-Fi digital picture frames like the Pix-Star use a 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s perfect for displaying photos from smartphones (as they almost always capture in 4:3 by default) and is better than a 16:9 display at displaying photos taken on DSLRs.
When you take Pix-Star’s extensive USB/SD card support into consideration, it makes bulk photo sharing from DSLRs significantly easier than with the Amazon Echo 15.
Can Amazon Echo 15 frames import pictures from social media?
The Amazon 15-inch Echo smart display can only import photos from Amazon Photos and Facebook. It doesn’t support any of the Google platforms like Google Photos or Google Drive. You’re also limited to importing a handful of photos and they cannot be arranged into folders.
For reference, Wi-Fi digital frames like the Pix-Star support almost a dozen external sources when importing photo albums. Use the web dashboard to link and sync photo albums from social media, photo-sharing sites, and even cloud storage platforms. Supported platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Photos, your computer, and many more (a dozen in total).
The great part of Pix-Star’s web album support is that you can set linked albums to automatically update. When you drag & drop new photos into any linked albums, they’ll automatically sync and download to each connected Pix-Star frame – automating much of the photo-sharing process. You can then use Pix-Star’s remote configuration feature to start slideshows, manage storage and settings, and much more – from anywhere in the world.