New Video – Echo Show Light Control: Kinda Useful, But Key Features Missing

The touchscreen on the Echo Show allows you to control your smart light bulbs from the “Smart Home” menu, which is fairly useful if you want to quickly control your smart lights through your Amazon Echo device, but it’s also limited as it’s missing some key features that mean you have to resort back to voice control – defeating the object of the touch screen.

This video covers the light control features that are available on the Echo Show, along with the Echo Show’s routines menu which can also control light bulbs:

Video Transcript

Hey YouTube, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point. One of the features I like on the Echo Show is the ability to actually change your lights directly on the touch screen, This… the moment I knew about this feature, it made me wonder whether it’s as good as (you see) the demos of Home Assistant where people actually have floor plans, and they go on to it and they control light bulbs throughout their house via that. Uhm, I know I should say “wait till the end to find out the answer…” but no, to be honest, the feature – the light control feature on the Echo Show – isn’t as good as that, if I’m honest, but nonetheless it’s quite useful to turn your light bulbs on and off and do one or two other things on the Echo Show, so I wanted to run down all the functionality that you can do on the Echo Show: let’s take a look!

Okay so to actually access the light bulb functionality you need to swipe in from the right, click on smart home up here, and you’ve basically got different devices. Uhm, your different smart devices. So you could actually go into camera and go into a particular – you know – camera, or you can go to lights or – as you’ve seen before – it’ll just give you your most recent smart home lights as well. Uhm, I’ll just go to the actual lights section. So I’ve got that… right, so as you can see all your different bulbs that have been imported via the Alexa app, they’re showing up here. It’ll show you whether they’re nine percent brightness or 100% brightness, if they’re on or off. Uou can see if some bulbs are off, it’ll say there’s an error occurred. Uhm… yeah, so you can just go through and see different bulbs there. Now for example, I’m in my study. So what I can do is click on [and] off… and you won’t actually see any difference, but the light bulb which – I’ll move this now – the main light is now off. If I go back and click that again… a bit of a delay… and the light is on. Equally you can go into a particular bulb by clicking it, and you can alter the brightness as well. So go all the way down to seven percent, and you can see it’s – you know – very dim now. I don’t really need the bulb on at all because it’s good good amount of daylight… let’s put all the way up to 100 again. So you can go back. I’ve also got a group here. So in the Hue app, I’ve actually created a zone of two different groups [bulbs]. Obviously that’ll show up here.

What it’ll allow me to do is come in… this is one of the two lights in that group… so click on off and it’ll turn it off, and click on will turn on, and obviously I can mess around with the brightness as well, and as you can see it kicks in almost instantly. It’s not like you’ve got minutes of delay, so you can control things via rooms, via groups and the individual bulb as well. So that’s pretty useful. As I originally found out when I created my Hue system, as per another video you actually have to name your groups – or your rooms – differently to the bulbs otherwise the Alexa app gets confused on import, and that’s why I’ve got things like office type room bulb that refers to the Hue bulb, and then study which is the actual room that controls that. So this particular smart home is – the… you know, interface on the Echo Show – is the same as on the Alexa app, in the sense you get all the duplicates here. But that isn’t actually a bad thing because you also get the multiple zones so you can control multiple lights via this. But of course one of the things you might be wondering is: how can you change the color of bulbs? All I’ve actually shown is how to change a bulb on and off, and how to change the brightness. This – which is two lamps – this is actually a white ambience bulb that’s in here, which means you can change the color between blues and yellows and everything in between. Uhm, there’s – I think – tens or over ten thousand different colors you can choose in the Hue app, and then there’s a massive five colors you can choose in the Alexa app for this particular type of bulb! But unfortunately on the touchscreen you can’t do anything at all.

All you can do is turn it on and off, and change the brightness up and down, unfortunately, and that’s true of any color – you know RGB – smart bulbs. You can’t actually change them whatsoever on this Echo Show touch screen, unfortunately. All you can do is turn bulbs on and off, and dim the brightness. One thing you can do though, which is a bit of a compromise, is if you come back to this menu, you can actually play routines via the touchscreen. So ones you’ve created on the Alexa app, such as the ones down here, you can actually kick those off, and that’s quite useful because if you’ve got – you know – maybe a routine when you’re leaving the house or last thing at night, you can actually come into here really easily, just swipe out… go to routines… and you can actually kick off a routine here. So for example I have one that says “good night” which will actually turn off bulbs. So if I can just play that here, and that’ll now turn off that bulb and do everything else in that routine as well. So it’s quite nice you’ve got that functionality, but obviously you can’t play scenes on this, and you can’t change the color so things are limited to literally turning bulbs on and off, changing the brightness and kicking off routines. Okay so that wraps up today’s video.

As you can see, the functionality is a bit limited on the Echo Show, even if you’ve gone out and spend a fortune on color bulbs throughout your house and those… really different types of smart bulbs and smart lighting… you get very limited control on the Echo show devices, unfortunately, which is a pity but hopefully Amazon can look to improve this in the future. It would also be nice if you can actually kick off scenes via the touchscreen as well, instead of just through your voice, but at least you do have that voice control as a backup, and obviously this has the voice control built in as well so it’s not too bad.

Okay I hope you liked this video. If you did, please click the thumbs up button and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you!

About Tristan Perry

Tristan Perry is a software developer who is passionate about tech gadgets, DIY and housing. He has therefore loved seeing smart homes hit the mainstream. Tristan also has an academic background (in Math & Computer Science), and so he enjoys digging into the technical ways that smart home devices work.

Tristan owns close to a dozen Amazon Echo devices, way too many Philips Hue bulbs and lightstrips, a boat-load of Ring Cameras and Doorbells... and a bunch of other smart home devices too (from Reolink, Google Nest, GLEDOPTO and others).

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

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