Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd-gen) review: Alexa's got the moves

Creepy? Yes. Useful? Sometimes.

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd-generation)
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The latest Alexa smart display, the Echo Show 10, went live at Amazon's annual Devices and Services event back in September 2020, with a radical new moving screen added to the mix.

With a silent brushless motor packed into the speaker base of the Show 10, powered by a new AZ1 neural processor, the Show 10 can pan, tilt and zoom; meaning it can 'follow' you around the room.

You're probably wondering exactly why would you want that, and whether it is just going to be creepy as hell?

I'll try my best to cover these concerns in this review. The short version is that it's somewhat useful for certain functions and yes, yes it is creepy as hell.

Guide: The best Alexa smart speakers
Need to know: Top smart speakers with screens

Aside from Alexa showing us its new moves, the new Echo Show 10 boasts a brand new form factor, a HD display and a vastly improved speaker - featuring dual, front-firing tweeters and a powerful woofer.

The 3rd-gen Echo Show 10 costs $249 and essentially replaces the 2nd-gen Echo Show 10, becoming the flagship device in a lineup that includes the smaller sized Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8; the numbers in the names all indicating screen size in inches.

Read on for our full 3rd-generation Amazon Echo Show review.

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd-gen) review: Alexa's got the moves

Amazon Echo Show 10: Design and display

The first ever Echo Show was a design abomination, so much so that when it first came out some people thought it was a joke.

Since then, over a number of new iterations, Amazon has refined the design to a much more acceptable level. The Echo Show 10 is the most radical design change we've seen though.

Taking a leaf out of Google's book, and its popular Nest Hub range, the Echo Show 10 separates the speaker and display aspects. It's actually like a tablet sitting on a little Echo Sub.

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd-gen) review: Alexa's got the moves

The tablet part is, sadly, a little underwhelming. The bezel on the 10.1 inch screen has strong 2016 Android tab vibes, as does the mediocre 1280 x 800 resolution of the display.

It's a shame that, given this is a flagship device from a tech giant, the pixel count isn't a step-up from its predecessor, especially given Amazon is keen to pitch the Show 10 as a multimedia device.

That's not to say the display is bad, it's certainly bright enough and plenty crisp for the Alexa skills made for screens, but it just seems daft to not to at least go Full HD.

On the top are three buttons; volume up and down, as well as the standard Echo mute button.

Like the Show 5 and the Show 8 (but was missing from the previous-gen Show 10) you get a physical camera shutter, which slides over the lens in times you want to ensure total privacy. It’s a good peace-of-mind tool, especially if you're already a bit creeped out by it following you around the room - but more on that in a bit.

Amazon Echo Show 10 camera shutter

One of the main reasons that you might choose an Echo Show over one of Amazon's screen-less Echo smart speakers is for Alexa's visual enhancements.

For example, when you ask for the weather you'll not only get an audio response, the assistant will also display a forecast for the week ahead.

There are now a bunch of top Alexa Skills built with smart displays in mind and the volume of responses that also get a visual aid is ever-expanding.

Check out: The best Alexa Skills for Echo Show

When sat idle, the Show 10 can scroll through a series of collated artworks or photo collections, or you can have it display your own pictures if you connect your Facebook or Amazon Photos account.

It can also rotate a weather forecast, upcoming events in your calendar, news headlines, recipes and a whole lot more. You can customize all of this on the device itself or by using the Alexa app.

The Show 10 has also been updated to add some extra home screen design elements. Just hit the three-dot menu in the top corner and you can select different widgets and layouts.

Amazon Echo Show 10: Alexa on the move

Amazon Echo Show 10 set motion

On to the main event then, at least in terms of what sets the Show 10 apart.

The latest-gen Echo Show 10 can pan, tilt, and zoom, keeping you in frame wherever you are in the room thanks to a silent brushless motor and a new AZ1 neural processor that can recognize the form of a human body.

It's different from the facial recognition the Google Nest Hub Max employs for a similar feature. The Show 10 can recognize you from your voice (if you've set up Alexa voice profiles) but it can't actually see who you are.

When you first set up the Show 10 you go through a Device Mapping process, during which the device rotates to check for any obstacles that it might bump into.

You help it find its space by first selecting where you are putting it - a corner, a shelf, an island etc. - and then you can manually adjust its maximum panning angle (which is anywhere up to 175 degrees).

After all this, it will physically pan and digitally zoom to keep you in the frame of the camera while on a video call, or keep the screen in your vision if you're following a recipe while moving around the kitchen.

This neat trick is similar to the Facebook Portal, which uses a digital pan and zoom to stay on you during video calls.

But the Echo Show 10 takes it further. Essentially, Alexa follows you around a room while it's active. If you ask it a question, or give it a smart home command it will turn to face you when it answers. It then, sort of, stays alive... to the point where it will follow you as you walk around a room for a little while after that initial interaction.

It's weird. It's creepy. It's, in the words of my wife, "A bit f*cking much."

You can turn off the motion tracking, using your voice, the device itself or the Alexa app if it bothers you. We turned it after less than a day. It was unnerving.

It's also a bit annoying. It stays at the last point it stopped tracking you. If you've walked out a room, at the edge of its range, for example, it just looks silly facing sideways on a shelf. It will reset to its default position after 10 minutes though (although, if anyone moves the base, you'll need to reset that default position).

There are some great use cases for the motion tracking though. If you use the Echo Show 10 in the kitchen I can see the benefits of having a recipe Skill move around as you get ingredients out of various cupboards - you get a year's free Food Network access with the Show 10, by the way.

Video calls, I can also see some use for a moveable display, although - does anyone really video call while walking around, apart from people in Skype TV adverts?

On that note, there is Alexa Group Calling to other Echo Show devices (up to 7 people) and Skype. Zoom is incoming, we are told.

Amazon Echo Show 10: Smart security camera

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd-gen) review: Alexa's got the moves

The biggest benefit to the motion capabilities, for me, is that it creates a genuinely brilliant smart home security camera.

Using the Alexa app, you can turn on the camera and get great clear, crisp footage from that 13MP camera. You can also move the camera around to see what's going on in your house.

If there is anyone in view, they won't be tracked without them knowing - the Echo Show 10 presents a warning that someone is watching the feed from an app.

Amazon Echo Show 10 security camera viewing

It also works with Alexa Guard and will periodically pan around the room when Away Mode is activated, checking to a see if person in its field of view, and alerting you via the Alexa app if it spots someone.

This is a genuinely useful fearture and the good news is we can expect lots of cool features to come to the device as well, as Amazon has released motion and sensing APIs to developers so they can create skills using this unique Show 10 feature.

Amazon Echo Show 10: Videos and music

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd-gen) review: Alexa's got the moves

Go onto Amazon, click on the Show 10 product page and you'll see the image above. "Packed with Entertainment"... and look, there's the Prime Video app (natch), Netflix (wo-hoo), Hulu (hooray), Food Network (errr, okay) and Tubi (what?).

For years now there have been glaring omissions when it comes to video apps on the Echo Show range and that trend continues with the Show 10.

YouTube on an Echo Show only works inside of a browser and is clumsy at best, annoying at worst. The same goes for Disney+ and localized apps such as the BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Also, Alexa tends to get stuck in the browser, by which we mean it will process any query as a video search rather than a general question – so you’ll need to exit out of the browser entirely. All in all, it still needs a lot of work.

And, as mentioned above, it's not even a Full HD experience for the apps that are there. Therefore, sadly, I can't recommend the Show 10 as a device to watch movies or videos on, in any serious manner.

The better news is on the audio front. Over the past couple of years we've seen Alexa spread its wings to Spotify, Apple Music and a whole load of other music streaming platforms.

It's even possible to make the likes of Spotify the default music service for your Echo devices.

Amazon Echo Show 10 speaker

And, sticking with good news and that speaker base is by far the best sounding speaker to feature on an Echo smart display

Like the Amazon Echo 4th-gen it has a 3-inch woofer, but 1-inch rather than dual 0.8-inch tweeters. Those tweeters move with the motion settings turned on, as well, to maximise the sound profile for your location in the room.

It's not amazing by any stretch, but it'd make a fairly good kitchen / study speaker. Anything above about 70% volume sounded a bit tinny and distorted though.

Amazon Echo Show 10: Features and smart home

Amazon Echo Show 10 smart home controls

The Echo Show 10 is also a dedicated smart home hub, as Amazon has opted to add a Zigbee radio inside, just like the Echo Plus and Echo 4th-gen. That means that Zigbee smart home devices (such as Philips Hue bulbs) can be added directly, without using additional apps, hubs or bridges.

However you connect your devices to Alexa, the smart home control works the same way as every other Echo device: you say the command at Alexa, and stuff turns on/off.

It works the same here on the Show 10 and, for me, it’s still the best smart home ecosystem out there, but you could get that (minus the Zigbee-smarts) with a $49 Echo Dot.

Of course, Alexa still underpins the entire Echo Show 10 experience, and despite the added touchscreen controls, it’s still pretty much all all about voice.

We’re not going to get into Alexa here – read our full Amazon Alexa guide if you need that information - but what you get with the Show 10, in terms of touchscreen options and panels, is practically the same as you'd get on the 5 or 8; but with a bit more retail space on the screen.

One of the best smart home features of the Show range, introduced with the Show 5, is you can swipe in from the right to open a menu with controls for a lot of Alexa's functionality.

From here you can open smart home controls, quickly activate lighting groups, routines, view security cameras on your Echo display and a whole lot more. It’s an excellent feature and one that makes the Echo Show 10 a great smart home hub / control center.

Aside from that Zigbee radio, the Show 10 has dual-band 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi on board, Bluetooth and is also capable of being an Amazon Sidewalk hub too - so it's future-proof for that, as well.


Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd-generation)
The latest Echo Show 10, with its spinny skills, updated camera and fairly-decent speaker is, without doubt, the best Alexa smart display device - in terms of features and functionality, at least. Whether it's the best for you though depends on your needs and wants. It's big, needs a lot of room to operate to its full capacity and the motion tracking is a bit weird, in my opinion. However, the Zigbee radio, smart home controls and enhanced smart security features are definitely useful.
PROS
  • Smart security features
  • Zigbee on board
  • Enhanced smart home controls
  • 13MP camera with shutter
CONS
  • Not a Full HD display
  • Video apps still missing
  • Motion can be creepy
  • Expensive

TAGGED    amazon alexa    smart speakers

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