The Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation) is the most expensive smart device Amazon has produced by a whole £20 ($20, AU$50).
But when you consider that its 10.1in Full HD screen can now tilt and twist to follow you around the room, and that both the speaker and camera performance have been significantly improved from the previous-generation model, that price hike begins to look entirely reasonable.
Physically, the third-generation Echo Show 10 is a more imposing beast than its predecessor, with a screen mounted on a new and surprisingly large barrel-shaped speaker base. It has the ability to follow you around – not from room to room (thankfully), but the screen rotates to point its face at you when you are interacting with it. Which is either clever or creepy, or perhaps a little of both.
This all requires a fair amount of space, and the Echo Show 10 now comes with a circular ‘rotation footprint template’, similar to a bib buffet, which you can slide around its body to ensure it has enough room to rotate.
Amazon recommends you place the Echo Show 10 at least 15.5cm from the wall. Of course, that doesn’t mean it cannot be placed in a corner or on a shelf, but doing so will severely limit its movement and some of its biggest features.
Resolution 1280 x 800p
Dimensions (hwd) 25 x 23 x 17cm
The screen is mounted on an arm at the top of the main body, which means it can be tilted manually, though it can’t yet nod sagely as you talk. The bottom edge of the screen is raised by 6cm from the surface it is placed on, and the top of the screen can be up to 24cm high, depending on the amount of tilt.
More importantly for audio enthusiasts, though, the drivers within the base do not rotate to place you in the listening sweet spot at all times, just the screen.
During set-up, the Echo Show 10 performs a slow calibration dance to work out how far the screen can swing around. The arm’s axis is at the back of the unit, where the power port is, so we’d recommend placing this port closest to the nearest wall. As the screen follows us during testing, we often forget that we might not be in the optimal listening position.
It weighs over 2.5kg, so once you’ve set the Echo Show 10 down, made sure it has enough room and run the calibration, you probably won’t want to move it often. It's designed to stay and follow you from one particular spot and, when we try to move it, the Show 10 warns us that the screen is about to hit things and requests a recalibration.
The Show 10’s main body is covered in fabric made from 100 per cent recycled material and is devoid of buttons. Across the top of the screen, there is a mic on/off button, volume controls, three little mics (one forward-facing, two either side of the mute button) and a simple camera cover slider, which not only hides the camera but also disables movement.
These buttons work well, but they’re not labelled clearly and we often find ourselves turning the mic off when trying to turn the volume down. Of course, it’s hardly a huge issue: you’ll see an orange bar across the bottom of the screen if you’ve muted by mistake and you can always say “Alexa, turn the volume down” to alter the loudness of your music hands-free.
It’s worth noting that while you can alter the screen’s brightness on-screen by swiping down from the top of the touchscreen, you can’t do the same for the volume.
The Echo Show 10 feels like a sizable, moving smart tablet on a sturdy driver-packed plinth. And that’s really no bad thing. But the headline feature here is its ability to follow you around. At first, it is a little disconcerting, because the Echo Show 10 locates you via its camera as well as sonically – a bit like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
If there’s someone else in the room, the Show 10 can get a little confused, but for the most part, the accuracy is almost uncannily good. It doesn’t follow you all the time, though; after a few moments of idleness, it resorts to a central position and waits patiently for you to interact with it again – or say “Alexa, follow me”, which feels just a little bit creepy.
When you’re not looking at recipes, watching Amazon Prime Video (you will need a subscription to Amazon’s video streaming service to make the most of the Echo Show 10) or video calling, you can set the home screen to display a range of photos from either Amazon Photos or Facebook, or Amazon’s own travel slideshow with pleasing shots from around the world. You can also set the screen to silently show you the latest football scores, weather forecasts or headlines, and over the course of our testing we find this much less intrusive and much more useful than we’d imagine.
We find ourselves uttering phrases such as “Leicester won?” as we pass it. Where other smart speakers can become silent, forgotten blobs over time, this one demurely adds conversation to your household – and is genuinely helpful.
When streaming TV content, Netflix and Amazon Prime apps are well integrated on the Show 10, but there are a few gaps in the video offering, including Disney Plus and YouTube. You can ask Alexa to search for YouTube content and log in to your YouTube account on the Echo Show 10, but because there’s no ‘skill’ support, you’ll get the Firefox web browser variant which means physically clicking on your chosen content to view it.
The screen boasts adaptive brightness and colour toggles and although the display’s resolution won’t exactly wow you, it’s lag-free and perfectly adequate for everyday viewing.
The camera has been boosted from 5MP to 13MP and it’s here one of the biggest gains is to be had. From the Alexa app on your smartphone, you can ‘drop in’ visually on the Show 10 by selecting ‘communicate’ and tapping on the Show 10 icon – and nobody needs to answer at the other end. But you can go even further. Tap ‘All devices’ on the Alexa app and the Show 10, then ‘camera’ and you’ll get a live feed of your home. Swipe left or right on your smartphone and it manually moves the Show 10 to pan around your room in real-time.
If you want to make sure the family silver hasn’t been pinched, see if a parcel has arrived or just spy on the cat, you now have a security camera that zooms in and out, depending on how close a moving object is to the screen. It’s a neat feature.
As you’d expect from Amazon’s flagship smart device, it’s a true home hub too. You can set up and control compatible Zigbee smart home devices with it, including lights, doorbells and thermostats. Say, “Alexa, discover my devices” and Echo Show 10 will find and set up compatible devices so you can control them with your voice or manage them on screen.
You can wirelessly connect up to two Echo speakers and a subwoofer (provided they’re on the same wi-fi network and in the same grouped ‘room’ in the Alexa app) and with Alexa’s new multi-room functionality, saying “Alexa, play music everywhere” does just that, on every Echo device in your home.
It’s possible to bypass wi-fi and streaming ‘skills’ entirely and use the Echo Show 10 as a Bluetooth speaker. We pair our iPhone and Nina Simone’s Baltimore plays with a good dollop of emotion and weight across the frequencies, though it feels just a touch compressed. Back on wi-fi, we link our Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Amazon Music Unlimited accounts, but there are lots of free music services here too, say “Alexa, play spa music” for example, and it obliges.
The option to tweak the Show 10’s bass, midrange and treble EQ settings in the Alexa app is useful if you’re not a fan of a bass-heavy presentation. With the screen partially obscuring the drivers, the Echo Show 10 isn’t being pitched primarily as a sound device, but nor is it a hugely detailed or expansive listen for its price category. It is capable of volume, but the slightly over-emphasised bass muddies the clarity of vocals and the emotive texture of musical instruments.
We stream Lethal Bizzle’s Fester Skank and the Show’s bassy character suits the grimy track through the low end and musically it times fairly well. But playing Joshua Kadison’s Jessie, we are distracted from the lilting piano passages by the encroaching low-end Wurlitzer chords, when these should only set the stage.
But while we are naturally concentrating upon the Echo Show 10’s picture and sound quality for this review, to focus purely on these does it a disservice – this device genuinely is about so much more than that.
The Echo Show 10’s ideal environment is on a kitchen counter where it can happily swing around displaying the new recipe you’re trying out, play a podcast to keep you company and offer a second screen to keep you abreast of the football, perhaps.
Alexa works well, the sound quality is good enough for a dance around the kitchen with your oven gloves on, and while it lacks sonic brilliance, that’s hardly its raison d’etre. Ultimately, this is a product you'd buy for the convenience and extra functionality afforded by a screen.
The Show 10 is helpful, informative, easy to use and will quickly become a useful and trusted addition to any household. We didn’t expect to enjoy it quite as much as we do. It won’t be your new sound system – for this money, we would expect more from it sonically – but it is a very good smart device indeed.
- Sound 4
- Features 4
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best tablets
Read our Apple HomePod Mini review
Read our Amazon Echo (4th Generation) review