Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


If Amazon wants me to buy the Echo Show 15, it needs to add this feature

I can't tell you how many times I've added the Echo Show 15 to my cart, but there are some key reasons why I've never checked out.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Echo Show 8
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

As someone who dreams in spreadsheets, I like to be in control. There's not much I can do when my car breaks down or my kid gets sick, so I like to take control of what I can -- when and where to fix the car and what systems to put in place with a sick child. 

Many apps are available for scheduling and sharing calendars, but not quite what I'm looking for. The good ones cost money, which I'm happy to pay when it's a great product. Still, all the ones I've tried are missing something, whether it's a sharing capability, integration with other systems, or a good user experience.

Also: Everything we're expecting at Amazon's Devices and Services event

Without a good app to help, I've dedicated an entire wall over our drop zone to family organization. This is where I keep the family calendar, school calendars and announcements, Post-its for reminders, and our kids' artwork. But wouldn't it be great to condense all this information into one screen or an app?

The Echo Show 15 caught my attention for this purpose as soon as it launched. A 15-inch screen with digital sticky notes and a built-in virtual assistant certainly sounds like it could do the job. But the only thing preventing me from dropping $250 on an Echo Show 15 is that I'm already familiar with the Echo Show platform -- and it's not great.

An Echo Show has the potential to become an all-in-one solution for busy families and professionals alike. But it's frustrating how limited the Echo Show's capabilities are. 

I love my Echo Show 8 -- it's become my assistant and companion in the kitchen to play music, stream shows, search recipes, check order status, create shopping lists, discover news and weather, and more. 

But it's a shame that you can't customize it like you can with other tablets. And even if you can synchronize your calendar from Google, Apple, and Microsoft, you can't set up your Echo Show to always display the calendar without returning to its standby mode. 

The Amazon Alexa app is also very slow and hard to navigate because it's not built intuitively. Some settings are hard to find, which is a shame, as many features go unused simply because users don't know they're there.

Of course, several other online stores and websites sell a display for this purpose, but in the past few years since I've had kids and researched this solution, I've seen many companies that do this rise and fall. Please don't blame me for not wanting to be the victim of an ephemeral enterprise who ends up stuck with a $500 bricked screen in my home. 

Also: Amazon's Echo Show 5 made me a smart display believer (and my daughter, too)

Though I am married to one, I'm not a developer. And we don't have spare time to figure out this conundrum on our own, which is why I've been searching for a turnkey solution for so long. 

If Amazon improved its Echo Show experience, or even made the Echo Show 15 more of a customizable "family center", I'd buy it faster than I can add a budgeting spreadsheet to a shared drive. And my satisfaction is not just about being able to create proprietary calendar apps with fancy tags or a budgeting application -- I just want a way to have the fullscreen calendar be an option when the Echo Show goes into standby mode. 

Right now, the Echo Show doesn't allow a customizable home screen, but the Echo Show 15 does, the problem is that it doesn't let you set the calendar as the default home screen. However, the 15 model is the only Echo Show to allow widgets, so you can add the calendar as a widget (along with sticky notes or any other available options) to reside in your home screen. If you do, dyou should probably turn off Auto-Sleep in your settings so the display doesn't go to sleep. The largest calendar widget takes up about a third of your screen. 

I've thought of setting up an iPad as the family center and keeping it on the wall, where I can control our smart home devices and keep the calendar open at all times. Ultimately, I'll probably take this approach, or get an inexpensive Android tablet, set it up as our family center, and route the charger inside the wall for a seamless look. But a 15-inch screen for all of this would be a dream.

Editorial standards