The Amazon Echo Show has always struggled with a mild identity crisis. Until now, it’s been easy to write it off as an “Amazon Echo with a screen,” even though new models in different sizes have appeared over the last couple of years.
But the company has taken a big leap forward with the third-generation Echo Show 10. Its fresh design, and Amazon’s continued focus on improving the overall user experience has made this smart speaker feel fresh, and differentiate itself in a crowded field.
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As they say, third time’s the charm.
The Echo Show’s Swiveling Base Keeps Its Screen Front And Center At All Times
The first thing you’ll notice about the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) is its new design. The 10-inch HD screen is attached to a base that looks like a smaller version of its Echo Studio speaker. This new look feels modern, and elevates the screen off the ground, which makes it easier to see while you’re standing up. I’ve tested a couple of generations of the Echo Show, and this is a very welcome improvement.
Amazon didn’t make this change just for aesthetic reasons, it’s because the Echo Show 10’s base can rotate, keeping the screen pointed toward you at all times. This feature is enabled by the Echo Show’s 13 megapixel camera, which can track your movements and turn the smart speaker toward you.
In my experience this feature worked surprisingly well. The Echo Show would adjust in real time as I walked around it, pausing when I paused, continuing when I made my next steps. If you’re worried about privacy, don’t worry, you can completely disable this feature by closing the Echo Show’s physical camera shutter.
The Echo Show’s rotation feature was designed to support two of the device’s big features: watching videos, and placing video calls. I’m waiting for an Amazon update promising support for video calling over Amazon Chime and Zoom to test that feature, but do have some experience with watching videos on the device.
I’ll admit, keeping videos in frame while I walked around the kitchen collecting and washing dishes was very helpful, and a better experience than trying to find the right spot to prop up my phone. Amazon’s smart speaker comes with preinstalled apps for services like Netflix and Hulu, so you can ask Alexa to watch your favorite shows without touching its screen.
If you want to watch YouTube, you’ll need to use the mobile version of Silk (Amazon’s web browser) or Firefox. You can still say “Alexa, open YouTube,” but the experience of tapping and typing on the screen is a little frustrating. Still, some previous versions of the Echo Show couldn’t play YouTube videos at all, so this is an improvement.
Overall, I’m a big fan of the Echo Show 10’s new design, but wish that Amazon had opted to build in a full HD display instead of sticking with a 720P screen. It looks fine, but I noticed a clear difference in the video quality of the TV shows and YouTube clips I watched.
Its All-New Audio System Creates Crystal Clear, Room-Filling Sound
The third-generation Echo Show has the same triple-driver audio system as the latest Amazon Echo, and it delivers in a big way.
The mid-sized bass woofer and dual tweeters handled the beginning of Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused with no problem. Robert Plant’s vocals and John Paul Jones’ bass playing were both clear and distinct. The sharp guitar and synths on Pulp’s Common People were similarly clear, although the chaotic choruses could get a little muddy at the highest volume setting
I generally kept the volume at either 50% or 60% and had no trouble hearing music at any place in a large, open kitchen. If you plan on using the Echo Show in your bedroom or office, you could probably get away with listening at around 40%. Although it’s a single speaker, the Echo Show did a pretty good job at showcasing stereo separation, which was a nice bonus.
While the Echo Show will play music from Amazon Music by default, you can link up your Spotify or Apple Music account in the Alexa app on your phone. Once it’s connected, you can set the Echo Show to use those services as its primary music source. You also have the option to ask the Echo Show to enter Bluetooth pairing mode, and connect your phone, tablet, or computer to it just like any other speaker. I connected my iPhone and MacBook Pro to the Echo Show with no problem.
Amazon used to get a lot of flak for making smart speakers that didn’t sound very good, but they’ve taken a giant leap forward recently. In the end I actually preferred listening to music on the Echo Show more than the Echo Studio, which is aimed at audiophiles. One of my favorite little features is that the Echo Show displays lyrics to the song you’re listening to.
It’s Possible To Use The Echo Show Almost Entirely Hands-Free Thanks To Alexa
One of the Echo Show’s biggest selling points is that Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant, is so capable. This smart speaker has a 10 inch touch screen, but I barely used it during my testing (YouTube excepted) because Alexa allowed me to handle almost anything hands-free.
I could set a timer, ask to play a specific TV show on a streaming service (Arrested Development on Netflix and SpongeBob Squarepants on Amazon Prime Video), download and install the Apple Music skill, get a news report, and see a five-day weather forecast without so much as a tap.
Alexa was so good at answering my questions it was a little frustrating when it came up short. I asked about local pizza places, and the Echo Show displayed a list of local spots. I followed up by asking for more information on the first restaurant on the list, and was met with silence. Situations like that stand out because Alexa is typically so good at getting things right.
Although I didn’t need to touch the screen very much, it worked very well when I did. The Echo Show will display news clips with a giant play button on them, and they’d start after a quick tap. You can swipe downward from the top of the screen to access system settings like brightness, and leftward from the right side of the screen to set up a timer, access your music, or check on your smart home accessories.
Alexa’s lead over rival smart assistants keeps the Echo Show one step ahead of the competition. If you’re shopping for your first smart speaker, this is a major point in the Echo Show’s favor. It’s capable right out of the box, but you can expand its functionality by downloading third-party skills.
The Bottom Line: The Echo Show (3rd Gen) Is The Best Smart Speaker With A Screen
The Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) removes most of the rough edges present in previous versions, while introducing some useful features along the way. It’ll work well anywhere, but I had the best experiences with it in the kitchen, a central location where I spend a lot of time.
It’s probably a little too big for a bedside table — that’s what the Echo Show 5 is for — but it’ll fit just fine on a mid-sized desk. If you’ve been on the fence about getting a smart speaker with a screen, and already have an Echo speaker in your house, the Echo Show is a no-brainer. After spending some time with it, I can also recommend it to anyone who’s using a competing smart speaker and has been thinking about making the switch.
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