amazon echo show in kitchen

You probably know all of the ways you can use a smart speaker, like playing music, asking it questions, reading your calendar, adding to your shopping list, finding out the weather and traffic reports, getting sports scores, controlling other smart home devices, and more. But if you’ve picked up a snazzy new smart display, you’re probably wondering how you can best make use of the addition of a screen.

What is a smart display?

Before we get started, let’s look at what defines a smart display. It’s typically a device that has a tablet-sized screen and large back that makes it easy to sit atop a desk, table, shelf, or nightstand, usually in landscape orientation. They function identically to smart speakers, but with one important differentiator: a screen that can range anywhere from 5.5” up to 15.6”. The screens add visuals to your responses, like weather reports, videos, webpages, and more. You can make video calls (in addition to audio), view footage from a security camera with some models, and view photo slideshows. Everything can be controlled by voice or a tap on the screen, just as you would with a tablet or smartphone.

How can you get the most from your smart display?

There are lots of ways you can take full advantage of the screen on a smart display throughout the holiday season (and beyond). Here are just a few ideas.

Display photo slideshows

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Set up the smart display to showcase a slideshow of holiday-themed photos that guests who come over for your holiday party or gathering can enjoy watching, just as they would look through a photo album or framed photos on the wall. Play photos from past Christmas events, pics of the kids with Santa, images from a holiday outing or vacation, and more. It’s really compelling to use these devices as digital photo frames.

Everyone can take turn or gather around the display to watch the looping slideshow and laugh as they recall fond memories, or see what you have been up to this year. It’s like Facebook or Instagram brought to life!

amazon echo show front door cameraTap into your security camera

If you have a smart display that can communicate with a compatible security camera or video doorbell, keep the live footage up on the screen so you can see when guests arrive, and be prepared ahead of time for the knock on the door. Or ask the smart display to show you the live feed when there’s a knock or a ring of the doorbell so you can simply yell “it’s open!”, “come in!”, or “leave the package at the door, please” if it’s someone you’re expecting and your hands are covered in turkey grease.

In some cases, you can even speak directly to the person at the door through the smart speaker so you don’t have to yell if you’re upstairs getting the kids ready when someone arrives early or a courier is there to drop off a package of last-minute gifts while you’re busy with other tasks.

Use your smart display as a kitchen assistant

A smart speaker can be your best friend in the kitchen, helping you through preparing big meals by setting timers, advising on measurement conversions, dictating recipe instructions, and letting you verbally add items to your grocery list as you run out. But a
smart display adds another element to the equation. If you’re trying out a new recipe to wow your guests or need tips on how to properly chop an onion or French a rack of lamb, ask the digital assistant and have a video pop up on screen to walk you through it.

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View how to perform specific tasks, or have a cooking video walk you through every step of an entire recipe as if you have your own personal chef there to guide you along the way. If you really want to try your grandmother’s famous recipe for homemade gnocchi, place a video call to her and have her walk you through the steps, watching as you knead the dough or form the pasta to ensure you’re doing it correctly.

google nest hub video instructions

Use your smart display for entertainment

You can also use the smart display to play back music as you cook, using your voice to request your favourite playlists or specific music genres (like holiday music or soothing classical). If available, you can also view music videos or album art on the screen.

amazon echo show call with kidsIf you have little ones at home, the smart display can entertain them while you cook. Let them choose songs from the display, tap pause on the cooking video while you catch up or tend to other dishes, or play games to keep them occupied until you’re done.

Chat with friends and family from afar

As noted, you can make video calls from smart displays, keeping in touch with friends and family from afar. If you have family who lives abroad, call them up and have a conversation where you can see one another without having to hold a smartphone with a small screen or tablet in hand.

Everyone can gather ‘round the screen and chat. This is great for parents with kids who might be living abroad for school and couldn’t make it back for the holidays, families who decided to spend the holidays away on vacation, or other loved ones who couldn’t make it to your holiday party.

facebook portal ar effects video callPlay music and let guests be the DJ

Use the smart display to play music either from its own built-in speaker or through a connection to other speakers. Control the playback via your voice as well as the touchscreen, which can display playlists, album art, and more.

Pass it around and let everyone play DJ, or let everyone use their voice and the appropriate command (like “Alexa”, “Hey Google”, or Hey Siri” to dictate what song they want to hear next).

If you like to play fun family games during holiday gatherings, the smart display can help, too. Play songs, then have everyone guess the name or artist, or ask trivia questions.

A smart display can entertain kids as well, telling them jokes, letting them watch fun
videos, and telling them kid-friendly stories before bedtime.

google nest hub control smart homeSet the ambiance in your home

Just as you can use a smart display to play back and control music, you can also connect it wirelessly to many other smart devices in your home, then set “scenes” that are appropriate for your holiday gatherings. For example, call a scene “Party” that automatically boots up a holiday playlist, turns on all of the lights, activates the security camera, and drops the heat by a few degrees (you’ll need it with lots of bodies generating heat in the house!).

Smart displays like the Google Nest Hub work with smart thermostats from Nest, for example, as well as plenty of other smart home devices, so you can control them by voice (individually), or as part of scenes.

amazon echo show cameraGet your day started

Keep a smart display on the bedside table, and use it to set an alarm so you don’t oversleep during the holidays. As you get ready, have it read off your to-do list, tell you what the weather is like, and remind you what gifts you still need to go buy, and what holiday cards you still need to send in the mail.

Smart displays like the Amazon Echo Show 8 can also be used as intercoms, so you can set up multiple ones throughout the house, then let the kids know when they need to come down for dinner, or remind kids (who you still hear giggling and talking) to get to sleep so they don’t miss Santa.

Bottom line

Smart speakers are great assistants during the holidays and beyond, but smart displays add another element to the equation that will make your holiday gatherings extra fun, as well as provide visual help, communication, and entertainment when you need it.

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