Amazon Echo Show 10 review: A smart display on the move

amazon-echo-show-10-6

Chris Monroe/CNET

Back in 2017, we reviewed Jibo, an adorable half smart display half robot thing, that swirled around its motorized base to interact with you in animated, but technically limited ways. While Jibo is sadly no longer with us, I caught a glimpse of him in the latest Amazon smart display, the Echo Show 10. 

Amazon’s sixth smart display and the priciest, the Echo Show 10 costs $250 (£240, which is AU$430 converted). It’s also the first smart display to boast a built-in motor and cameras that track you around the room to keep you in frame during chats or keep streaming media in your field of view.

Like

  • 13-megapixel, wide-angle camera
  • Motorized base is silent
  • Physical shutters and options to turn off motion

Don’t Like

  • Motion can be too twitchy sometimes
  • Amazon’s most expensive display
  • Zoom compatibility is not here yet

The feeling that someone is watching is unshakable with the Echo Show 10, but you can limit those features or turn them off completely. Even without the roving eye, major upgrades to cameras and speakers, plus the addition of Amazon’s new AZ1 Neural Edge processor, mean that if you want the most capable Echo smart display on the market, this is it. 

The specs

Let’s start with design. The Echo Show 10 looks and feels like the front of a second-gen Echo Show perched atop a large smart speaker. It’s fine. Weighing 5.6 pounds with a 5-foot cord, it’s not what I would call highly portable. The base portion is covered in the now nearly traditional smart speaker fabric, available in charcoal or glacier white.

That base houses the brushless motor as well as the speakers, so the round shape and 6.7-inch depth make sense, but the Echo Show 10 will take up more space on your shelf than a traditional smart display. You’ll also need to account for 360 degrees of obstacle-free space, but more on that later.

amazon-echo-show-10-4

Chris Monroe/CNET

The Echo Show 10 is equipped with a 10.1-inch HD display, 13-megapixel front-facing camera, plus dual, front-firing tweeters and a woofer for all your audio needs. That 13-megapixel camera is a major upgrade from the 5-megapixel camera on the second-gen Echo Show or 1-megapixel camera of the Echo Show 8. It’s also twice the quality of the 6.5-megapixel camera you’ll find on the Nest Hub Max. That difference was noticeable when I tried video calls with each device. Amazon’s higher quality camera helps with zooming too, which factors into the Echo Show 10’s motion feature. 

Like other Show displays before it, this moving model has physical buttons for volume control and microphone muting, as well as a physical camera shutter.


Now playing:
Watch this:

Amazon Echo Show 10: Alexa puts her spin on moving smart…



6:19

Motion

The obvious standout feature here is the Echo Show 10’s motorized base. This is the first smart display to use Amazon’s new AZ1 Neural Edge processor. It triangulates your presence in the room with a combination of sound localization and computer vision. Once the target has been identified, the brushless motor will kick in to keep the screen facing you, no matter where you walk in the room. 

It’s worth noting that this idea of panning cameras and video chat isn’t entirely new. Facebook’s Portal made use of a similar technology, though not with a moving base. The Nest Hub Max’s camera can zoom to keep you in frame during a call, but it’s stationary as well. Adding a motorized base gives Amazon the advantage of full, 360-degree panning. 

The Echo Show 10 can turn a full 360 degrees, and it comes with a helpful paper guide so you can map out just how much free space you’ll need around the device. 

I have to give Amazon credit for how much customization is available with regard to motion. In the Echo Show 10’s settings, you can trim down the turning radius of the display, set an exact idle position (where it will face when not tracking something) and even disable motion completely.


Molly Price/CNET

You can also restrict motion to “During Select Activities” like calling, watching videos or displaying recipes. With “During All Activities” selected, the Echo Show 10 will track you for music playback, asking questions and really any interaction with Alexa. 

The Echo Show 10’s tracking was pretty spot-on in my testing, though I was able to confuse it a few times when a second person walked around my kitchen. Video chatting with motion felt finicky at times. The panning worked well enough, but the automatic zooming in and out was sometimes totally off. I ended up staring at the ceiling of the CNET Smart Home while on a chat with our video producer, for example.

Sometimes motion felt a little too sensitive for what I was doing. With the Echo Show 10 on my kitchen counter one morning, it turned just a tiny bit each time I moved while eating breakfast just a few feet away. Overall it was surprisingly useful for tasks like catching up on your favorite show while making your morning coffee.

amazon-echo-show-10-1

Chris Monroe/CNET

People who are creeped out by cameras might have a hard time liking the Echo Show 10. While all the display’s data is processed locally on the device and you have the option to turn off motion and physically shutter the camera, it’s still a strange feeling when an inanimate object, well, animates.

I don’t think there’s cause for concern here, given the physical shutter, local data processing and all the options to customize or disable motion completely. If you do want the convenience of a smart display sans cameras, the $90 Google Nest Hub is my recommendation. 

My husband’s assessment of the Echo Show 10 about two minutes out of the box? “That seems excessive,” and, “I don’t like that it’s following me.” If you think you might fall into this category, you’ll likely be just as happy with the significantly less expensive Echo Show 8 or second-gen Echo Show.

Audio, video and more

Take the motion out of the equation and the Echo Show 10 is still Amazon’s most capable smart display. It comes with adaptive brightness and adaptive color, a feature highly praised on the Nest Hub Max that makes photo slideshows feel even more refined. 

When it comes to audio, the Echo Show 10 blasts out plenty of sound at max volume with little to no distortion, especially for a device that is first and foremost a smart display. Fifty percent felt comfortable and 100% was almost unbearably loud at close range. 

A Zigbee hub is built into the Echo Show 10 for simple setup of other smart home products. My Echo Show 10 had no trouble finding my Philips Hue bulb. Like Amazon’s other Echo devices, you can use the Echo Show 10 with Alexa Guard to detect alarm sounds or glass breaking when you’re not home. New with the Echo Show 10 are occupancy- and vacancy-based routines that allow you to customize a routine to start or end when someone enters or leaves the area your Echo Show 10 can see. 

amazon-echo-show-10-3

Chris Monroe/CNET

Amazon also included the option to use your Echo Show 10 as a smart home camera. With Home Monitoring enabled in the display’s settings, anyone in your household can view the camera’s live feed from their Alexa app (as long as the camera isn’t shuttered). You can also control the Echo Show 10’s motion remotely, by sliding your finger across the app’s live feed in the direction you’d like the display to face. This worked well in our testing and came with a thoughtful top banner notice on the Echo Show 10 itself that someone was viewing the camera remotely.  

Out of the box, the Echo Show 10 supports group calling for up to seven people. You can also use Amazon’s Drop In calling feature to take a look at your smart display remotely. Zoom compatibility is also in the works, but wasn’t available for testing at the time of this review. 

Is the Echo Show 10 top of its class?

In a word, yes. While it is the priciest smart display, it’s also the most capable. It checks all the boxes we expect from a smart display and adds a new feature that’s highly incorporated into the Echo Show 10 experience. With local data, physical shutters and plenty of customization options, Amazon makes a a solid case for adding motion to camera-equipped smart displays with the Echo Show 10.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *