amazon echo show in kitchen smart display

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. Here are just a few ideas.

Display photo slideshows

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Set up the smart display to showcase a slideshow of themed photos, say, of your last vacation or dinner party, that you, and any guests who come over, can enjoy looking at, just as they would look through a photo album or framed photos on the wall. You can also tailor your images to match the seasons or even holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. It’s really compelling to use these devices as home decor that everyone can enjoy as they recall fond memories, or see what fun things have been up to. 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 your Best Buy delivery has arrived, or be prepared ahead of time for a knock on the door. You can also 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 elbow deep in soapy dishes.

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 or your grocery delivery person is outside 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 an extra element to the equation. If you’re trying out a new recipe 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.

google nest hub kitchen smart display

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 shape the pasta to ensure you’re doing it correctly.

google nest hub video instructions smart display

Use your smart display for entertainment

You can use the smart display to play back music as you cook, using your voice to request your favourite playlists or specific music genres according to your mood (like dance pop 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.

A smart display can also keep your kids laughing by telling them jokes, letting them watch fun
videos, and telling them kid-friendly stories before bedtime.

Chat with friends and family from afar

As noted, you can make video calls from smart displays, which makes it convenient to keep in touch with friends and family. 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 or tablet with a small screen 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, family members who are away on vacation, or other loved ones who you just haven’t seen in a while.

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

If there’s ever a celebration in your home, you can 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 games during family night or have a regular game night with friends, the smart display can help, too. Play songs, then have everyone guess the name or artist, or ask trivia questions.

google nest hub control smart homeSet the ambiance in your home

Just as you can use a smart display to play and control music, you can also connect it wirelessly to many other smart devices in your home, then set “scenes” that are appropriate for the weather or time of year. For example, call a scene “Party” that automatically boots up a holiday playlist, turns on all of the lights, and activates the security camera in preparation for guest arrivals.

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. As you get ready, have it read off your to-do list, tell you what the weather is like, remind you what groceries you still need to go buy, and tell you if there are any upcoming loved ones’ birthdays you need to shop for.

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 brush their teeth and get to sleep for school in the morning.

Bottom line

Smart speakers make great home assistants, but smart displays add an extra element to the equation that will make your home life more fun, as well as provide visual help, communication, and entertainment when you need it.

Shop a variety of smart displays for your home on