Amazon Echo Hub Review: Futuristic But Pricey

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Remember those futuristic homes from 80s and 90s movies? The ones with smart panels on the walls, controlling everything in the house with a simple touch (or, all too often, with a mere clap of the hands)?

Well, the Amazon Echo Hub is exactly what those movies promised us: a control panel that aims to control every smart device in our home, be it a lamp, a security camera in the garden, the boiler, and of course – every other Amazon Echo device you might have around the house.

The Echo Hub certainly looks and feels like it belongs in that futuristic vision. But now that this long-awaited future has arrived, it begs the question: Is such a device still necessary? Can’t we achieve the same level of control with our smartphones, Amazon’s Echo Show devices, or even just our voices, as Alexa has been promising for years?

That’s what I set out to check while reviewing the new Echo Hub. Here’s the spoiler: It’s an impressive little control panel… if you actually need it. However, I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a must-have for everyone, especially considering its current price point. So, let’s dive deeper into the details…

Amazon Echo Hub official

Quick Look – Amazon Echo Hub

What is it:  An 8″ smart home control hub that combines Alexa’s voice assistant skills with a touch display. Price when reviewed: £169.99


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Interface / Usage

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Value for Money

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 5 out of 4.


  • Bright display that looks good even in brightly lit rooms
  • Can pick and sort widgets for the home screen
  • Feels snappier than Amazon’s Echo Show devices
  • Supports thousands of Smart Home devices
  • Works even when the internet is down


  • A very limited selection of widgets
  • Not as snappy as a modern smartphone/tablet
  • The settings can get confusing and all over the place
  • Expensive

Features and Specs

  • Size: 202 x 137 x 15 mm
  • Weight: 365 g
  • Screen: 8” (1280 x 800)
  • Processor: MediaTek MT 8169 A
  • Camera: None
  • Speakers: Pair of top ported full range (but tiny) speakers
  • Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Smart Home Compatibility: Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh, Zigbee, Thread and Matter.
  • Widgets: Multi-camera views, To-Do Lists, Notes, Calendar, Weather, Sodoku, Ambient sounds, and more


The Echo Hub is a great control panel for those with numerous smart devices scattered throughout their home, offering a convenient way to manage everything at a glance. However, considering its price point, the Echo Hub’s functionality might have been better served as a skin or app integrated into Amazon’s existing product lineup, such as the Echo Show devices or Fire tablets.

Who Is The Amazon Echo Hub For?

Smart Devices are all around us these days. Although some might seem excessive (do we REALLY need a Smart Fridge or a Smart Microwave? No, we don’t) – there’s no denying the convenience of controlling your lighting, heating, or front door camera/bell with your smartphone or voice commands.

But with so many smart devices filling our homes – controlling them is starting to become a bit confusing. I often find myself trying to remember what my landing light is called – and if I can’t, Alexa turns on my lounge light instead.

Then I want to turn the fan on, and it’s connected to a Smart Plug – so sure, I can reach out and flick the button. However, that won’t be the ‘Smart’ thing to do.

But then I can’t remember which app controls the Smart Plug, because I bought a Humax one and not an Amazon one, so is it in the Alexa app, or is it in Humax’s app, or… you get the drift.

This is where the Amazon Echo Hub comes in – which aims to solve this problem (yes, I know, it’s the epitome of a first-world problem), by giving you a simple touch-activated (and voice-activated) control panel that puts ALL your smart devices on one screen.

So my cameras are all there (a Ring Doorbell, an indoor camera, and an outdoor Ring Spotlight cam), and I can inspect all of them with a multi-view that looks straight out of old spy films (or rich people’s houses).

Amazon Echo Hub multi camera view

My Smart Lights are all there, and I don’t need to remember names or which apps control which lights – everything’s connected to the Echo Hub, and it’s all on the screen – I can turn the landing light on with a tap!

So yes, it’s convenient, and it’s futuristic. But…

Do we really need a standalone device for all this? I’m a big fan of the Amazon Echo Show 15, which is a ginormous Echo Show device that sits in our kitchen.

It plays YouTube videos, plays music from Spotify, shows my shopping list, can show my doorbell camera, control my lights, and is compatible with most other smart devices.

Now, yes, the Echo Show 15 is somewhat laggy, and its focus lies elsewhere – but why not add the Echo Hub’s control panel as a “skin” that you can switch to on the Echo Show 15 – or any other Echo device for that matter?

Better yet – why not add the Echo Show’s control panel as a skin/app for Amazon’s Fire Tablets? That way, you get the best of both worlds – a multimedia tablet AND a Smart Device control panel.

Oh, and you could then carry that control panel with you around the house – instead of having it stuck on one particular wall (and who wants to get up from the sofa to check the garden camera?).

So the Echo Hub feels like the perfect control panel – in the wrong body. Or at least, in the wrong price bracket – because paying £169 for a device that mostly serves as a control panel feels like a lot.

Amazon Echo Hub near box

Yet – and I’m going to repeat this a lot – the Echo Hub does what it sets out to do very well. So let’s look into that.

Setting Up The Amazon Echo Hub

With an 8″ screen and 356g, the Echo Hub looks and feels like a bulky tablet – or a slimmed-down Echo Show device.

However, there’s no battery – since the Hub only works when it’s connected to a power outlet (or via ethernet with a compatible Power-over-Ethernet adapter – either way, you need to connect it to the wall).

Since you’re supposed to hang the Hub on your wall (as that’s what 80s films taught us about the control hubs of the future), it comes with everything you need for hanging the device on the wall already in the box.

Amazon Echo Hub in the box

While you CAN also prop the device up on your desk – this requires an overpriced Echo Hub stand.

This could have been solved easily by adding a flippable kickstand to the Hub itself – alas, Amazon really wants you to hang this on the wall.

The power cable (with its USB-C port) that comes in the box is pretty long – and the back of the Hub even has a cable “organizer” if you don’t need to use the full length of that cable.

Amazon Echo Hub back cable

If you’re going to buy the Echo Hub, then you most likely already have other Amazon Echo / Alexa devices, which means you already have the Alexa app installed on your phone.

If you do, the Hub’s setup is fairly straightforward – you sign up with your Amazon account, and all the settings and devices are transferred from your Alexa app – so all your existing devices will show up immediately.

The Echo Hub supports all the major Smart device platforms (Zigbee, Thread, Matter and Bluetooth), so it’s easy to add and connect almost every Smart Device out there.

The Echo Hub has two small speakers on top – they’re functional and loud enough for speech and camera monitoring, but don’t expect to listen to music, as they’re not good enough for that (but you can use the Hub to control external speakers, and play music on them).

Amazon Echo Hub buttons

On the side, there are just three buttons – volume up/down, and a “privacy” button that turns the microphone off.

The Settings Conundrum

While controlling devices on the Hub is a breeze, things get a bit muddled when you want to dive deeper into device settings that go beyond the Echo Hub’s basic functions (like turning devices on/off, viewing cameras, or changing colours).

That’s when you’ll find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole of different apps, trying to find the right one for each device.

Now, I understand that Amazon can’t realistically replace 3rd party manufacturers’ own settings for their smart devices. But here’s the kicker: even for Amazon’s own devices, navigating the settings can quickly become a confusing labyrinth.

The settings for Amazon-owned devices are divided between three places – Ring app settings (for Ring doorbells and cameras) or the Blink app for Blink’s cameras (also owned by Amazon), Alexa app settings (for Echo devices – and Ring/Blink devices that you’ve added to the Alexa app), and the Echo Hub’s own settings.

Oh, and there are even more settings on Amazon’s website, that you can’t find on any of the other apps.

So when I wanted to make a change – for example, set my Ring Doorbell to show instant notifications on the Echo Hub – I couldn’t do that on the Echo Hub itself, and had to start playing hide and seek, to find the correct app for that particular setting (spoiler: it’s in the Amazon Alexa app, under ‘Doorbell Press Announcements’).

I can’t help but wish that Amazon would take things a step further. In addition to the Echo Hub’s ability to directly control and view smart devices, wouldn’t it be great if they could create a centralized settings hub? A place where you could easily tweak and manage the settings of all your devices, or at least the ones made by Amazon’s ever-expanding family of companies.

And of course, the Echo Hub also has its own set of settings to play with, including handy features like setting ‘Do Not Disturb’ hours, customizing clock and picture frame preferences, enabling automatic brightness adjustments, and deciding what appears on that all-important main screen.

Amazon Echo Hub main screen

Using The Amazon Echo Hub

First, I have a confession to make – yes, I defied Amazon’s hopes and dreams – and kept the Hub on my desk, instead of hanging it up on the wall.

As someone who works from home, this was actually quite convenient. Sure, it would look nice on a wall – but that means having to actually GET UP to use it (or use voice commands – but I already have an Echo device in every room for that).

Plus, at 8″, the screen isn’t really big enough for you to see what’s going on from afar – so if there’s a desk at home you regularly sit at – the Hub would be ideal there (or, maybe, on a small table near your sofa).

Similarly to the Echo Show 15, the Echo Hub’s interface is based on widgets.

There’s a widget that shows snapshots from your doorbell or security cameras, a widget that can show you your ToDo list, a quick-access widget for your “favourite” smart home devices (lights, plugs, etc.), a widget for your calendar with today’s/tomorrow’s events, and the list goes on.

Well, it doesn’t go on MUCH – as there really aren’t a lot of widgets available. Yes, there are some 3rd party widgets like an animal sounds widget (why?) a fart button (WHY?), and a burglar deterrent widget that “gives the illusion your house is occupied” by playing “realistic” audio sounds. OK, you could also use that one to pretend you have a more interesting life.

Amazon Echo Hub widget gallery

In time, we might get some interesting and useful widgets for the Echo Hub – but since we already know the selection is not all that impressive for Echo Show devices either – then I’m not holding my breath.

Still, the stars of the party here are, of course, the Smart Home control widgets -and those certainly fulfil their function in a convenient way.

My main widget, for example, is the Camera one. And it’s rather useful to see a snapshot of each camera – knowing that I’m safe, and no monsters or angry neighbours are walking in my garden.

When someone rings my Ring doorbell – the video instantly shows up on the Echo Hub screen – which is a wonderful way to filter out trinket sellers and garden landscaping promoters.

Since the Hub has speakers and a microphone, you can also use it to speak with your doorbell visitors or simply listen to the foxes howling in your garden at night.

Now, granted, these are all things I already do with my phone – but for some reason, when someone rings my doorbell, my phone takes a good few seconds to load up the Ring app and show me who’s there – and it’s much more instant on the Echo Hub.

You can also use the Hub to see what other smart devices in your house are “doing” – and even check what each Echo device is playing at the moment (so you could potentially make fun of your husband for listening to a silly Boney M song in the kitchen).

You can jump instantly to any camera (even on Echo Show devices, assuming the cameras are not covered), control every lamp, control the heating, etc. – it all depends on the devices you have at home.

The home screen is customisable (up to a point) – you can choose which widgets to put there and change their order – but that’s mostly it, and you can’t really move things around too much or control widget sizes.

Unlike the Echo Show devices, which unfortunately still feel underpowered and are, therefore, slow and laggy, the Echo Hub feels snappier. Perhaps this is a combination of its improved CPU and the fact that it has fewer capabilities to juggle.

It’s far from perfect, though – and a modern smartphone still feels snappier than the Echo Hub, with some lag still there.

To make things easier to control on your screen, you can divide your devices into different groups/rooms – and then quickly glance at the Bedroom’s devices, see what’s going on in the Kitchen, etc.

When you’re not actively using the Hub, you can choose whether it shows the clock, a series of personal photos (that you upload to Amazon), or just some pre-configured gallery images.

The hub also has a nifty proximity sensor that senses when you move closer to the device and then automatically jumps to the home screen. This is useful when the Hub is on a wall but rather redundant if you keep it on your desk, as you’re ALWAYS close to the device (in which case a simple tap is enough to go to the home screen).

Amazon Echo Hub box

Bottom Line: Is The Echo Hub Worth It?

The Amazon Echo Hub is a well-designed and functional smart home control panel that delivers on its promise of centralizing your smart devices into one easy-to-use interface. It’s responsive (to a point), convenient, and offers a futuristic feel.

However, the Echo Hub’s niche appeal and relatively high price point make it a tough sell for the average consumer.

Many of its features can be replicated (in part) by existing Amazon products, such as the Echo Show devices or even the Fire Tablets, albeit with a bit more lag and less polish.

If you have lots of smart devices in your home and find yourself constantly juggling apps and voice commands to control them, the Echo Hub might be the solution you’ve been looking for. It streamlines the process and puts everything at your fingertips (plus, I’m surprised to say – touch controls prove to be more convenient than using your voice, at least for some activities).

On the other hand, if you’re content with using your smartphone or existing Alexa-enabled devices to manage your smart home, the Echo Hub may feel like an unnecessary luxury.

Ultimately, the Echo Hub is a great device that does exactly what it sets out to do – but it’s a product that caters to a very specific audience.

If you’re a smart home enthusiast who craves convenience and centralization, the Echo Hub is definitely worth considering. But for the casual user, it might be a bit overkill – at least until the price drops.

Note: The manufacturer supplied the device for this review. As always, this did not influence my unbiased opinion of the product.

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