Widgets are one of my favorite features of Echo Show devices, and I love that the Hub is entirely focused on them. My Echo Show 8 ($150) won’t always show me my widgets, and the Echo Show 15 ($280) is great for widgets but too big to, well, put anywhere. But the Echo Show is a perfect little screen with my favorite widgets, the smart home controls I need, and no obstacles to get to them.

Photograph: Nena Farrell

Smart Home Power

With the widgets and menus on the almost-always-live dashboard, it’s easy to quickly control your home. There’s plenty of info stuffed into the main homepage. While it’s not exactly beautiful, it’s easy on the eyes and simple to navigate, and it’s easy to swipe through the smart-home devices that the Hub is connected to.

In the side menu, you can tap the Routines button to access the routines you’ve made in the Alexa app and activate them. You aren’t able to edit or create new routines on this page, so you’ll need the app handy if you want to make changes. Below that is the room list. My Echo Hub showed the Living Room, Office, and Nursery, since those are the three rooms I’ve created within the Alexa app.

There’s a final bottom menu where you’ll see entire categories of devices, such as lights, cameras, and plugs. You can tap these to see all the devices of that type at once; I see 10 different lights from my home when I open on the generic Lights option. But even without opening it, that little menu also shows me the total number of lights on in my home, so it’s handy at a quick glance. Finally in the list of menus is the classic top-down menu that matches an Echo Show device. It’s where you’ll find the device’s settings, alarms, brightness, and more.

Hub in Name Only

Ironically, for a device named Hub, there is no smart-home hub built in. You’ll find that in certain Echo Shows, such as the newest Show 8 and the Show 10, and the screen-free Echo (4th Gen), but not this device.

A smart-home hub is needed for certain products to work and communicate with each other. Philips Hue has always needed a hub for its lights, and smart security systems often have hubs and base stations too. But fewer products require an individual hub to work—Abode’s security system has a hub, for example, but then offers a suite of products that are hub-free.


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