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Echo Hub from Amazon: Like a screw-on tablet

Photo: Berti Kolbow-Lehradt

Smart home technology often has a difficult time in families. In many cases, there is only one device that has access to all functions, usually a parent's smartphone. Amazon wants to change that with the Echo Hub. The device looks like a tablet with its eight-inch touchscreen, but is mounted firmly on the wall. Its display switches on automatically when you approach it, and its dashboard, a kind of virtual dashboard, has control surfaces for lighting and heating as well as security cameras. The power is supplied via a socket and the price is 200 euros.

Mix of Fire Tablet and Echo Show

The Echo Hub is Amazon's first device of this kind, and the technical similarity to existing products is obvious. With dimensions of 202 × 137 × 15 millimeters, the white housing is as large and wide as, but slightly thicker than, that of the entry-level Fire HD 8 tablet. The display is reminiscent of the Echo Show 8 with its 1.5 centimeter wide edge. However Its thick speaker hump is missing. Instead, the Echo Hub sounds via two broadband speakers built into the frame.

Like the Echo Show, it only has a few buttons, two for volume control and one for muting the microphones. Amazon saves you a power button. Like other speakers and displays from the manufacturer, the Echo Hub is designed for continuous operation. Apart from a USB socket for power supply, there are no connections. The microphones and the infrared motion sensor are hidden behind four pinhead-sized openings. The brightness sensor cannot be seen under the plastic surface.

First drill, then ask

Anyone who has ever drilled something into the wall can also install the Echo Hub. In addition to two screws and dowels, the scope of delivery includes a wall bracket with metal hooks. Once it is attached, hang the Echo Hub in it. A recess on the back ensures that it fits snugly against the wall despite the holder and power cable. The included power cable is 1.8 meters long. You can also supply the Echo Hub with power using a network cable using an optional USB-C adapter (Power-over-Ethernet, PoE).

The device is ready for use even faster if you place it on a table or chest of drawers with a stand, which is available as an accessory. In the test we used the Sanus MEGTS1-W2 (35 euros). It looks good and is stable.

The user interface is set up like the Echo Show. A guided dialogue will clarify with us the Amazon account in question, the WLAN access data and much more. Typing the passwords on the bulky display instead of on the smartphone is annoying, but luckily it's only necessary once. The setup is quick and the Echo Hub is ready for use after just a few minutes.

Important: The devices and rooms that you control with it must be added using the Alexa app for your smartphone or tablet - as always with Amazon. This is not possible with the Echo Hub itself. After all, he takes on the role of radio control center. Because, in addition to Wi-Fi 5, it understands the radio protocols ZigBee, Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh, Thread and the smart home “world language” Matter, it can replace various other smart home hubs if desired.

Clear and quick

The operating concept meets expectations. The software is specially adapted for device control; no other functions distract from this purpose. This way you can quickly reach your goal on the three-part screen.

On the left you scroll vertically through a list of rooms. At the bottom you swipe horizontally through the device categories such as cameras, heaters and air conditioning systems, lamps and sockets. Vacuum robots, fans, roller blinds and more are bundled under “Other”. The Echo Show does not provide access to these device categories.

With “Active Media” you change the volume of music that is already playing and the selection of speakers on which it plays. However, this only works with Amazon boxes, not with those of other brands.

The third area is the largest and shows, for example, all devices in a room or in an area defined by the user in the form of widgets. There is also an overview of the security cameras, but current still or live images are only displayed for cameras from the Amazon Ring brand. For models from other brands, you also have to tap on their tile.

If you want, you can also add widgets for the weather forecast, the family calendar or the shopping list. When it comes to everyday organization, the Echo Hub offers the same thin widget selection as an Echo Show. However, its device dashboard is much clearer and takes fewer steps to reach the goal than with the Echo Show. Not only that more devices can be operated. The Hub is superior to the Show, especially when it comes to lighting control. The latter, strangely enough, cannot color lamps. The newcomer does, as it should be.

Come closer

Smart home control with the Echo Hub is fun, not least because Amazon has implemented the automatic proximity system well. If you approach the device, the screen saver disappears and reveals the dashboard. Registration via face scan, numerical code or password is not possible. After around two minutes without attention, a chosen background image is activated again, so that the Echo Hub functions as a digital picture frame.

The touch screen has a resolution of 1280 × 800 pixels, which is sufficient for the purpose and can be easily read even in bright surroundings. A sensor automatically adjusts the brightness. But you can also switch it off and regulate how bright, cool or warm the display lights up.

Screen and software respond quickly. Although the MediaTek MT 8169 A chipset responsible for computing work is not a powerhouse and is already well-worn, it was already used in the 2022 edition of Fire HD 8. But it is sufficient for smart home control.

Entertainment and small talk

Amazon does not deprive the Echo Hub of the entertaining and communicative capabilities of the Echo Show. The display has high contrast and is bright enough to stream videos. But only Amazon Prime Video is embedded really well. For music streaming, any common provider can be preset using the Alexa app. Because of the thin sound due to its design, the device is neither suitable as a television nor as a boom box. At best, narrative podcasts and news are tolerable.

As with all Echo devices, family members can call each other from speaker to speaker. But it has to stay with a phone call. The device lacks a camera for video chats.

What about Alexa?

Because the focus is on touch controls, you could easily forget that the Echo Hub is also an Alexa speaker. This means: The voice assistant can do everything on the device that it can do on other Amazon devices. The four microphones respond well, even from a distance. You can dim the lights using a voice command from the couch as long as you are within earshot. Displaying the image from a camera only makes sense when you are standing in front of the screen. It's better to have music played from another speaker anyway.


The Echo Hub's user interface is exemplary adapted for controlling smart home devices - better than the Echo Show. It is easy to set up, easy to assemble and hangs tightly on the wall thanks to the inconspicuous cable entry. Waking up via proximity sensor makes operation easy.

While Amazon has recently had little idea when it comes to smart speakers, with this product the company is taking a big step towards an easy-to-use smart home. However, anyone who chooses the Echo Show still has to accept that a cloud connection is mandatory with Amazon. Without them nothing works with the Echo Hub.

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