There's no shame in wanting the best of the best when it comes to smart home tech, especially if money is no object. As you'll often find, you get what you pay for in this realm, and dropping those few extra bucks can undeniably improve your overall experience. That's definitely the case with the Echo Show 10, which is a flashy, perhaps extravagant, smart display that costs a pretty penny.
Whereas the other Echo devices are small, unassuming virtual assistants with mediocre hardware, the Show 10 will quickly become the star of whatever room you put it in, swiveling frantically and impressively to answer your many questions about the weather and what song its playing. In all seriousness, the Echo Show 10 is a stylish and expensive way to access Alexa, equipped with a touch screen and a built-in camera. The motion tracking isn’t too clunky, the audio quality definitely impresses, and the smart display is certainly an added benefit for us visual learners. Still, that price tag isn’t going to win Alexa any friends, and it’s still playing second banana to Google Assistant.
Alexa checks all the virtual assistant boxes, but it's not as capable as Google Assistant, and premium hardware won't change that.
- Brand: Amazon
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
- Display: 10.1-inch LCD, 1280x800
- Audio: 3-inch woofer, 2x 1-inch tweeters
- Camera: 13MP
- Stellar audio quality with good mic pick up
- Built-in camera with privacy shutter
- Screen motion mechanism is silent
- Exorbitantly expensive for a virtual assistant
- Doesn’t understand commands and queries as well as Google Assistant
- Third party apps are not easy to use
- Motion feature doesn’t add much
Design, hardware, what’s in the box?
The Amazon Echo Show 10 seriously shines when it comes to the hardware. Let’s start with what Amazon likely believes is the crown jewel of the device: the built-in 13 MP camera with motion tracking capability. While it may be a needless feature for many, the Echo Show 10 still tackles it with aplomb. The motorized mechanism that powers the rotation is virtually silent, and the camera is equipped with a smooth, easy-to-use privacy shutter for those concerned with security.
Obviously, the motion tracking creates some problems when it comes to placement. After all, you don’t want to knock over a vase because your video call got a bit animated. Fortunately, the interface walks you through a simple process during setup that will ensure the display doesn’t accidentally bump into any of your family heirlooms. If you want to take full advantage of the motion-tracking tech, be sure to avoid cramped corners and covered counters. Kitchen islands, larger end tables, and even a kitchen table against the wall will give you the chance to actually utilize the feature that you're paying so much for.
Speaking of, the larger touch display (10.1 inches) is a decidedly pleasant addition to the Echo ecosystem. While the resolution (1280 x 800) isn’t nearly as impressive as your average smartphone, it still adds a lot to the virtual assistant experience, particularly if you aren’t a great listener like this reviewer. That -- combined with the responsive screen and the volume and microphone power buttons on top -- makes the Echo Show 10 feel much more configurable than your average voice assistant. Plus, the display is equipped with a manual tilt, so you can move it up and down to fit your particular needs, which I never would’ve realized I needed until I used it.
From an audio standpoint, the Echo Show 10 does not disappoint. With two tweeters and a woofer, the virtual assistant sounds more like a home entertainment system than a smart speaker. It doesn't compare with the Echo Studio when it comes to sound quality, but it's definitely better than even the most recent iteration of the Echo Dot. It definitely has a little more bass than the average speaker at default, but a quick trip to the Equalizer in Settings will allow you to adjust as you see fit.
As for what’s in the box, it’s pretty straightforward. The Echo Show 10 takes no assembly. The only thing you have to do is route the detachable power cable to the port on the base. You’ll also find a small instruction manual for basic setup and a motion footprint template, which will help you safely place your Echo Show 10 in your home.
Software and Motion Tracking
The Echo Show 10 is a fine way to access Alexa, if that’s your assistant of choice. The microphone picks up most requests quite easily -- even for my wife, whose high voice makes virtual assistants into mortal enemies. It's also great for smart home functionality, given the notably quick response time and the bounty of integrations available. Unfortunately, its ability to actually understand what we want is an entirely different story.
As a Google Assistant household, we’ve been spoiled by how effectively it can understand our most confusing requests. No such luck with Alexa, though, even in this latest iteration. The Echo Show 10 consistently got requests and questions wrong, even struggling to understand a prompt it had provided itself on the display. Even after months of use, getting a specific radio station to play on Spotify is a massive chore that is often outsourced to our Google Assistant-enabled smart speakers.
The display does add to the overall experience of the Echo Show 10, particularly for basic voice assistant requests. For example, when you ask Alexa about the weather, you get an hourly forecast displayed along with the spoken answer. When you ask Alexa to set a timer, you get a large countdown banner in addition to verbal confirmation. When voice shopping on the Echo Show 10, you actually get a visual list of products to choose from, along with the Alexa-only deals found on Echo devices. Generally speaking, the display consistently makes the experience more comprehensive, albeit a significantly more expensive one.
While Google and Apple allow you to set up smart home devices using your phone, the Echo Show 10 takes a different approach. Instead, you’ll sign in on the device itself with a tablet-style keyboard that feels awkward to say the least. Amazon doesn’t have an alternative, though, considering the Alexa app is pretty useless in its current state.
The display on the Echo Show 10 adds to the ease of controlling the device. You can swipe from the top to toggle certain settings, like Brightness, Do Not Disturb, and Motion Tracking, and you can swipe from the right to access other features, like Music, Video, and Smart Home. This really gives you control over the Echo Show 10, much more so than a device that only provides voice assistance.
Similar to most screen-based devices in the modern era, the Echo Show 10 is equipped with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Unfortunately, the experience is less than ideal, as features like episode selection have been disabled in the stripped-down version of the app, and there is no option to cast either. Luckily, the sound quality turns whatever episode you happen to stumble on into great background noise, but I wouldn’t count on that 10-inch screen to provide enough detail for an enjoyable viewing experience from more than a few steps away. Again, this is where location can make a big impact.
From a smart home standpoint, the Echo Show 10 performed admirably. I’ve run into virtually no problems setting up my smart lights, my Samsung smart TV, or the Kasa EP40 smart plug, and have been able to operate all of the above without issue by both voice and the touchscreen.
The flagship feature on the Echo Show 10 is undoubtedly the motion tracking. Let’s start off by assuaging those with privacy concerns and noting that the built-in camera doesn’t follow you around at all times. The device won’t track you until you give it a command, in which case it will quickly turn to you with the smart display, which is a little creepy and somewhat convenient.
The Echo Show 10 really lets you customize your motion tracking experience, allowing users to set the rotation radius to specific degrees. In fact, you can even set the device to only move during certain activities, which I appreciated for both privacy and functional reasons. As for its ability to actually track me, the Echo Show was quick and accurate enough that any reasonable user would stay in frame during a call. Yes, it was easy enough to confuse the device under strenuous circumstances -- like hiding and popping up in a new location -- but just don’t do that, and it’ll keep up.
Should you buy it?
Yes, but only if you really want it, have disposable income, and really like Alexa. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it; the Echo Show 10 is expensive at $250. Heck, Amazon practically gives away its cheaper Echo hardware, and they can also power a smart home, tell you the weather, or remind you to take your dog for a walk. So, in essence, you’re paying an extra $200 for a screen that’s mostly just reiterating what the voice assistant tells you.
Additionally, while location is important, it can't change the fact that the Echo Show 10 is simply overkill for most people. In eight months of use, I never felt like I needed this expensive, swiveling smart display, no matter where I put it in my home. Yes, it undeniably made the virtual assistant experience slightly more comprehensive, providing accompanying visual information along with its voice responses, but how many people really need that? From smart home functionality to entertainment to checking the weather, I just never felt like the Echo Show 10 was adding enough to warrant that substantial price tag.
Still, if you’re a visual learner or a bad listener who's already plugged into Alexa services, the Echo Show 10 does add to the experience. It's cool, it's stylish, and it's definitely one of the best Echo devices you can buy. Still, there are better, less expensive smart speakers out there that don't make you use Alexa, like the Google Nest Hub Max, that we would be remiss not to recommend instead. Generally speaking, the Amazon Echo Show 10 represents an evolution of the virtual assistant that most won’t need, but many still want, and if that isn’t the essence of the latest tech, then I don’t know what is.
Buy it if…
- You’re happy with Alexa as your virtual assistant
- You’re busy and love video chatting
Don’t buy it if…
- You don’t have disposable income to blow on a smart display
- You need a speaker more than a display
UPDATE: 2022/07/09 BY CONOR CAWLEY
Just couldn't find a reason
This review was updated to reflect prolonged use. Over the course of eight months, it was used in multiple locations throughout the home, including on a counter in the corner, in the middle of a kitchen island, and on the edge of a dining room table.