Verizon has revealed its own Smart Display, an Alexa-powered screen that packs its own LTE connection as well as WiFi. Built in collaboration with Amazon, it’s the first example of a smart home product made with the Amazon Custom Assistant, meaning Verizon Fios customers will be able to ask for specific account details and get service support.
We saw the Verizon Smart Display back in June, when the unexpected device crossed through the FCC. Although there’s no shortage of smart displays for the connected home at this point – including plenty from Amazon that use Alexa – what distinguished Verizon’s was its integrated cellular radio.
Usually, smart home devices like these rely on WiFi to get online, but Verizon’s will also be able to use the company’s cellular network. Considering the Smart Display is meant to tap your Verizon Fios connection, at first it seems a little strange that the company would add in cellular data too.
However, given that many of the questions the Alexa-powered assistant will be facing will be around Fios outages, having some way to get online when a home internet connection might be interrupted seems like a good idea. For that, users will be able to say “Hi Verizon” to summon the customized assistant and ask questions about outages, recent bills, and other Fios-specific queries.
“The Verizon Smart Display will help deliver the best home broadband experience for our Fios, LTE Home and 5G Home customers,” the company told SlashGear. “It will help them easily set up their service within their home, troubleshoot any issues with their home network and serve as a service platform so they can add or remove services from Verizon on their bill or plan.”
As with any other Alexa-powered smart display, meanwhile, you’ll also be able to call up Amazon’s regular assistant with the “Alexa” wakeword. That means the usual mixture of streaming video playback, music control, smart home integration, and video calling. There’s a front-facing camera for those video calls, plus a physical shutter that can be moved across with a switch on the top to block the lens.
Also on the top edge are volume buttons and a mute key. The screen measures in at 8-inches and runs at 1280 x 800 resolution; inside there’s 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, plus Bluetooth 5.0 along with the WiFi and LTE. We’d expect that to mean it can function as a Bluetooth speaker, just like Amazon’s Echo Show models can, when paired to a smartphone, laptop, or other device.
According to Verizon, the Smart Display will be trialed with a select group of its Fios customers. “We’ll take the learnings from these customers to refine the product before rolling the product out more widely next year,” the company told us. No word on pricing at this stage.
Image via Avi Greengart