While my parents have appreciated a magnet of the kids’ latest art project, or a family photo calendar in the past, last year Mike and I gifted each set of Grandparents something that turned out to be the greatest gift of all time: Amazon’s Echo Show. So when Amazon recently reached out, asking if we could collaborate on an article for the upcoming holiday season, I tried to be nonchalant. “How about the Echo Show? We’ve been using it…for a while…”
The Echo Show is similar in function to the Amazon Echo — you can add things to a shopping list, ask it questions about the weather, etc., with one big change: there’s a huge, interactive screen.
Which means that in addition to all of the Echo moves, the Show can also show lyrics while playing a song (my personal favorite feature — Pax and I LOVE to sing along), show videos, and — and this is the big one — drop in on the grandparents. This is easily our most-used (and most-loved) feature.
With an “Alexa, drop in on Mom!” we connect in seconds* to the Echo Show in my Mom’s kitchen. “NANA!!” Pax will yell. “Are you there??” And she’ll come walking over. It’s the closest thing we’ve found to living next door. (If only she lived in Philadelphia, sob!)
*You can use the Amazon Alexa app to choose exactly who can drop in on you – if anyone.
I drop in on my Mom every day (OK, maybe twice a day). Sometimes it’s just for a hot second: “Mom, I’m trying to make your popcorn – how much coconut oil?” And sometimes I’ll drop in, sit down, and we’ll have coffee together. It’s seriously a game-changer. So much so that I got one for my sister, too. It brings me endless joy, watching Pax and Scotti’s little Greenlea chat with each other over the Echo Show. Or Scotti and I will sometimes work together — both typing away on our laptops — while our Echo Shows are connected. I’ll spin my laptop around to show her something, and vice-versa.
We obviously have our Echo Shows set up so Mom and Scotti can drop in at any time. But you can turn on the “Do Not Disturb” function pretty easily in the app, if you don’t want drop ins. (And you can specify the contacts that are allowed to drop in.)
I cannot overstate enough how much we freaking love our Amazon Echo Shows. We now have an Echo dot in almost every room in the house (which means we can ‘drop in’ on any room to, say, tell the boys that dinner is ready), but the ability to have that everyday connection with the Grandparents has been a total game-changer. It’s not unusual for the boys to come home from school, all excited about something, and want to drop in on Nana or Gram or Aunty Scotti, and share the good news.
Right now, Amazon has a ton of Black Friday deals on Echo Shows. If you aren’t quite sure the big one is for you, there’s also a smaller version – the Echo Show 5 – that’s really sleek. It’s small, almost like alarm clock size, but the screen is still big enough for a video call or to see the lyrics to your favorite song.
So yeah — easily my top pick for Grandparent gifts (or for any loved ones who live tragically far away).
This post has been updated for 2019. It was originally published last year as part of a collaboration with Amazon. But we still freaking love our Echo Shows, and it was worth publishing again, especially with the insanely good Black Friday deals.
photo credit: Peaberry Photography