The Amazon Echo Show 10 is a unique Alexa-enabled smart speaker + smart display from the company. Equipped with motion tracking, the screen automatically rotates towards you when you make a call, watch videos, give commands and more. The Echo Show 10 uses a combination of audio and camera cues to move the screen so that it faces directly at the user. This product outperforms the usual smart displays which are mostly stationary displays. User tracking is an intuitive addition of features that sets the Echo Show 10 apart from other smart displays from the get-go. Priced at Rs 24,999, this is not an affordable device though. Nevertheless, the huge leap in usability afforded by the moving screen could make the extra money worth it. Curious how the Amazon Echo Show 10 fares in practice? Let’s find out.
Build and design
The Amazon Echo Show 10 is nothing like the previous models in the Echo Show range. The Echo Show 10 combines the cylindrical shape of the Amazon Studio or Amazon Echo with the tablet shape of the previous generation of Echo Show models. So it essentially has two separate parts: the speaker system on the bottom and the 10.1-inch display on the top.
One of the most unique features that sets the Echo Show 10 apart is that the screen rotates automatically using visual and audio cues from the user. So move around a room when viewing a recipe or making a video call and the screen should follow you perfectly and make sure it’s always in view for you. Users can also manually tilt the screen if needed. The screen can even zoom and zoom in on you to better capture you when needed, during video calls.
The bottom of the speaker has a brushless motor that allows it to rotate 350 degrees. The device scans for any obstacles during setup and then sets a safe turning circle. We’ll talk about how accurate the rotation mechanism is in the next section. The speaker area on the bottom has a mesh fabric material that feels quite premium. It houses two front-facing 1-inch tweeters working alongside a 3-inch woofer.
On the front of the display is a microphone and a 13-megapixel camera for calls and the auto-rotate technology. The camera quality is decent for a smart screen with sufficiently sharp videos. The camera can also be used as a home security camera, allowing users to view a live feed from the Alexa app. It’s a pretty decent makeshift baby cam or security camera, especially since you can move the screen via the Alexa app to take a peek at the room the smart screen is set up in.
The screen has a resolution of 1280 x 800 which isn’t as bright as a dedicated tablet, but it does the job just fine here. The screen is sufficiently color accurate and is nice enough to watch Netflix or make video calls. The display is equipped with automatic brightness adjustment. It’s quite reflective though, which can be a problem if your bright lights are staring straight at it.
As for buttons, they are all present at the top of the screen. There are physical knobs for volume levels, muting the far-field microphones, and a sliding shutter that covers the camera for privacy. At the bottom of the device is a socket with a small opening through which the charging cable can go. The device has no battery and must be plugged in at all times to remain powered on.
Let’s talk a little bit about the Amazon Echo Show 10’s unique party trick: the auto-rotating screen. The screen is designed to follow you around the room it is placed in to ensure it is always in view of the user and to keep the user in view during video calls to other Echo devices/devices using the Alexa app or skype. The camera sets data points to identify the user within its field of view and then rotates to the position facing them when activated. If there is more than one person in the room, the screen positions itself at an angle that is most comfortable for most people.
In testing this feature, we found it to be fairly accurate when there is one person in the room. There is minimal jerking and jitters in this case and it doesn’t take too long to reposition itself. It can happen that the screen goes through and you are at an odd angle, but that is rare when you are alone. However, once more people were added to the mix, we found that the screen struggles to accurately reposition itself and makes a lot of jerking movements trying to position itself at the right angle. This can be a problem if you are on a video call with several people around you. The motion tracking also fails in a dark room.
During your initial setup process, you can adjust the maximum angle you want the screen to rotate, which is quite useful if you want to place it against a wall. Since it can’t run a full circle with a wall behind it, you can set a safe range of motion. You can also reset this at any time in the Settings menu if you choose to move your Echo Show 10.
As for the privacy aspect of all this, Amazon says that the processing of the captured images is only done on the device and none of them are stored by Amazon. You can always use the sliding privacy shutter for the camera whenever you want, but this also disables the motion tracking feature.
The feature is undoubtedly useful for cases where you are watching a Netflix or YouTube video, making video calls, and more. The 13-megapixel camera is also great for video calls, producing clear and detailed shots that can be rare even on some specialty tablets. We also enjoyed using the device as a security camera and spying on our colleagues in the Digit test labs. You can also use other communication features such as drop-in, announcements and voice calls, all of which worked flawlessly.
This is still a smart speaker/display with Alexa, so we tested that too. The bonus of having a screen is that in addition to the vocal feedback from Alexa, you get visual cues for your questions/requests. You can see the album cover of a song, detailed weather information, images related to searches, full-fledged TV shows on Netflix and much more. One complaint, though, is that the display doesn’t come with a native YouTube app and plays it through the Echo’s built-in browser, which doesn’t look or perform as well. Alexa also easily understands most of the commands you give her and can now even respond to commands in Hindi!
As for music, you can stream through services like Hungama Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and JioSaavn. You can do other basic things that most Amazon smart speakers allow, such as set alarms and timers, listen to audiobooks on Audible, jot down shopping lists, get information from the Internet, and activate a whole host of Alexa skills. You even have the option to pair your phone with the Echo Show 10 and use it as a sort of Bluetooth speaker, one that cannot be disconnected from its power source, however.
Like the fourth-generation Amazon Echo, the Echo Show 10 also comes with a built-in Zigbee hub for wide compatibility with smart home devices. So you can connect smart devices like light bulbs, door locks, switches, plugs, refrigerators and more without the need for a separate hub, app or skill.
The device is also equipped with a feature called Alexa Guard that uses the microphone to monitor the environment for disturbing sounds such as smoke detectors or breaking glass. It will send the user an alert when it picks up such sounds, which could be infinitely helpful.
At its core, the Amazon Echo Show 10 is a smart speaker, despite impressive display capabilities and the motion tracking feature. Which means sound is an integral part of the equation and the overall experience. With dual front-firing tweeters and a woofer, the Echo Show 10 isn’t much of an upgrade in this department compared to the standard, latest-generation Echo speaker with a 3-inch woofer and two 0.8-inch tweeters.
The overall sound signature is warm, but the sound can be slightly muffled at lower volumes as the screen blocks part of the speaker. At high volumes, the speaker has minimal distortion but does sound a bit tinny or shrill. The device easily fills a medium-sized room with sound, but the sound isn’t as enveloping as the Google Nest Audio or even Amazon’s own Echo Studio. However, the clarity of the sound is quite good, even with the screen moving, as the tweeters move with it.
The bass can be a bit overwhelming in the mix, especially at high volumes, although you can use an equalizer to adjust the levels if you like. In some songs, kick drums can sound a bit boomy, but turning the volume down will alleviate this. However, the mids are well represented with sufficient detail from main instruments and vocals and minimal distortion of the bass tones. Because the mids are also emphasized quite a bit, the emphasized lows don’t affect that too much. While the speaker produces a decent, warm sound overall, the precision is somewhat lackluster.
At a premium price tag of Rs 24,999, you get a similar premium feature on the Amazon Echo Show 10 – motion tracking. The speaker’s ability to turn to face you and follow you when needed is extremely useful in some situations, such as video calls, watching shows, and more. Integrating this feature into an already smart display increases efficiency quite a bit. The 13-megapixel camera is also great for video calls, combined with the screen’s ability to pan and zoom during calls, making for a pretty seamless experience. This device doubles as a security camera and saves you from having to invest in both. However, if music is your main concern, you might want to consider Amazon Echo Studio or Google Nest Audio instead.