Amazon’s latest smart display, the Echo Show 10 ($249.99), can now track you. Well, just a bit, that is. With its 10-inch display sitting atop a motorized circular base, the Echo Show 10 can automatically spin to keep you in frame during video chats or, of course, to keep content in your line of vision.
We’ve spent nearly a week with it, so let’s break down the latest Alexa-powered smart display.
The who, what and how
Who this is for: Amazon’s Echo Show 10 is for those who want Alexa paired with an immersive screen that can work in almost any setting. You’ll get the classic Alexa experience with visuals in a compelling build that moves around for you — this way you always have the best view.
What you need to know: The latest Echo experience doesn’t come cheap at $249.99, but there isn’t much this smart display is missing. You get an expansive 10.1-inch display that’s paired with terrific speakers for a loud and clear experience. We especially like that the screen rotates to keep it in your line of sight.
How it compares: For now, no other smart display can match the exact feature set of the Echo Show 10 — especially the rotating screen. The 4th Gen Echo is pretty close in terms of sound quality; while the Nest Hub Max features gestures, it hasn’t received a hardware upgrade since it’s launch in 2019. If you want the best Echo with a display, the Show 10 is the ultimate choice at $249.99.
Spin, spin, spin
The Echo Show 10 puts a new, intriguing twist on a working formula: Alexa with all of her knowledge and handy tricks, a display and, now, oscillation.
The smart display’s screen is pretty sizable and quite sharp — getting plenty bright with a 1280 X 800 resolution. It’s not 4K but, for the most part, you don’t need that on a smart display.
The circular base is akin to a mini Echo Studio, Amazon’s biggest Alexa-enabled speaker. From the top of the base protrudes a piece of plastic that attaches the base to the display — pretty much just Amazon’s version of a monitor stand that allows you to tilt the screen up or down. That piece of plastic is plenty strong, though, as we pulled and tugged on it pretty hard (even lifting from the screen) and it showed no signs of durability issues.
The hefty base — which is wrapped in that mesh outer shell that we’ve come to expect from all recent Echos — not only contains two tweeters, a woofer and other core hardware components, but a brushless motor as well. Over nearly a week, we didn’t really hear it or experience any bumpy rotations. The screen just kind of glides along and can go nearly a full 360-degrees. When it hits the furthest it can turn in one direction, it swings in reverse and goes the further circle rotation from the opposite perspective.
The Show 10 uses a combination between audio — with the famous “Alexa” cue — and the on-board camera to keep the display within your line of sight. When streaming content, the camera keeps an eye on you so that the screen is always facing your direction.
When testing the Echo Show 10 on a center kitchen island, we could be sitting near it and get up to walk towards the fridge to pour a glass of ice tea and the display would effortlessly track our movements. It’s very intuitive — albeit somewhat creepy.
For those concerned about privacy, the video used for motion tracking doesn’t really see you, but rather a cubed outline, that’s processed onboard the device. What’s more — you don’t have to keep motion tracking on. You can turn it off at any time. There’s also a physical shutter you can slide to block the camera. Like all other Echos devices, you can mute the microphone with a physical button on the top.
The homescreen for the Show 10 is updated a bit to show more. You’ll see it in a three zone format: a big square that’s on the left side with the remaining right split into two halves. You can get the news cycled through the main, sports on top and stocks on the bottom, for instance. As always, Alexa works to curate this based on time of day and the information that is most pertinent to your interests based on current usage with the device and historically with Alexa. If you see something you don’t like, you can mark “not interested” to have Alexa curate in real time.
Last but not least, the display dynamically adjusts screen brightness throughout the day. If you’re in a very bright room with overhead lights on, it will keep the display brighter; with less lighting or at night, it dims the display.
A great mix for audio, TV shows, movies and Alexa responses
Remember how we said the Echo Show 10 and the base turns to face you? Well that includes the two tweeters and woofers that are inside. Just like we saw with the 4th Gen Echo and Echo Dot, Amazon is moving away from omnidirectional speakers that push sound out in 360-degrees. All of the newer Echos, including the Show 10, push sound out directionally to the front. In the case of the Echo Show 10, the speakers are always facing you, or rather wherever the screen is.
Compared to previous models, the new Echo Show 10 doesn’t get as loud at first but delivers a clearer and crisper mix. Alexa commands come through clearly and the on-board microphones can pick up your voice pretty clearly. We will still give a win to the HomePod Mini for better voice pickup at higher playback volumes, though. We did have to raise our voice a few times during our testing to get Alexa’s attention.
You can also pull from some more sources for video playback. Of course, Amazon Prime Video is front and center, but Netflix and Hulu also offer skills. The latter is essentially the name for apps on Alexa and they both work quite well. You can also access YouTube, but it’s not native through a skill, rather you use the Silk or Firefox browser for a desktop-like experience. It’s by no-means perfect and we still crave a dedicated YouTube skill, but it’s passable for now.
Classic Alexa with smart home chops
The Alexa experience with the Show 10 is a very similar one to any other Echo.
She can understand the nuances of the human language and deliver more precise results to your questions. Asking for the weather delivers a forecast for your specific location, both for the day and with an outlook. You can ask for specific moments from the news or even just random facts. Alexa can even tell you a story. She’s got the chops to meet whatever you might be asking.
And on the Echo Show 10, the experience is powered by the internet, along with a combination MediaTek 8183 main processor and AZ1 Neural Edge processor. The latter first premiered on the 4th Gen Echo and moved some processing locales, basically identifying the question or what it might be. This in turns leads to faster response times on the Show 10; it felt natural and fluid, be it for a simple request, a fact finding scenario or a specific Amazon order.
While the Echo Show 10’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities are expected, Amazon Sidewalk and Zigbee make this a true smart home hub. The Zigbee antenna lets you connect a plethora of smart devices without the need for buying a third-party hub. If you get a Zigbee capable device, you can just ask Alexa to discover it and she’ll work it into your smart home ecosystem. Amazon Sidewalk, which powers Ring Lighting connectivity, is a new proprietary tech from Amazon that will see continued adoption.
There’s also a security element to the Echo Show 10. Within the Alexa app, you can view a live feed from the 13-megapixel camera on the Show 10. It’s leagues better than the 5-megapixel lens in the previous Echo Shows — it’s a clear view that you can actually make stuff out on. And with a swipe on the live view, you can pan the Echo Show 10 around. And when in live view mode a banner will appear on the Echo Show 10 noting that it is being viewed.
After close to a week of testing, we think the Echo Show 10 is a pretty impactful device for what it enables and, more-so, what it changes.
The Echo Show 10 ensures you always have the best seat in the house. The ability for the screen to move to you is a game changer.
While the $249.99 price tag is a large one, it’s an experience that we’re confident will last for a while. Amazon is also taking the right steps with privacy here, especially when it comes to motion tracking.
Amazon’s spinning Echo Show 10 is available now for $249.99 in charcoal or glacier white.