As someone who dreams in spreadsheets, it’s hard going through a chaotic life where things go out of my hands uncontrollably. 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 I don’t know why they miss the mark. 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.
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 using an Echo Show is like watching someone buy a box of 300 colored pencils just because they need a black one.
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 for most users, 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.
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 ‘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’d be happy being able to customize how my Echo Show display looks when I walk by it, to get it to show my Google or Outlook calendar and sticky note reminders, and or maybe a preview of an Excel document.
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.