Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) review: Alexa has her eye on you

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) review: Alexa has her eye on you

The third-generation Amazon Echo Show 10 isn’t just Amazon’s best smart display, it’s the most innovative, the most sophisticated, and the best-sounding smart home hub ever. The brushless motor that almost silently spins its 10.1-inch HD display around a 350-degree arc is the feature that will grab your attention when you take it out of the box, but you’ll quickly discover many more things to get jazzed over when you set about exploiting its capabilities to the fullest.

Updated April 6, 2021 to add an unboxing and setup video (see above).

Using feedback from its onboard 13-megapixel camera as well as from its far-field microphones, the Echo Show 10 rotates its display around its base so that it’s always facing you. This is a fantastic feature whether you’re following a recipe, engaging in a video call, or watching a movie on Netflix. And Amazon gives you full control over how motion occurs: You can disable it entirely, enable it only for some activities—such as when making video calls, watching a video, or following a recipe—or you can activate/deactivate it on demand by saying things like “Alexa, follow me,” “Alexa, turn right,” or “Alexa, turn off motion.”

amazon echo show rotation adjustment Michael Brown / IDG

If you place the Echo Show next to a wall or in a corner, you can adjust how far it will rotate so that it doesn’t bump into anything as it spins.

The display apparently has a clutch or a similar mechanism that automatically disengages the motor while at rest, allowing you to manually turn the display left or right even if motion is enabled. Unlike previous iterations of the Echo Show, you can also tilt its display up or down to get the best viewing angle (this feature is not motorized).

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart speakers and displays, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Display quality is much improved on this model compared to the first- and second-generation Echo Show. It’s not only brighter, but Amazon has added the ability for the display to adjust its brightness and color to adapt to the ambient lighting in the room. Those are features Google has already made available in its competing Nest Hub Max.

amazon echo show 10 profile 2 Michael Brown / IDG

The Amazon Echo Show 10 is available in charcoal or glacial white, but its cord and power adapter will be glacial white regardless of which color your choose..

I set up the Echo Show on my kitchen island and found that its tracking feature worked well and smoothly as it followed me moving around the room—provided there’s adequate ambient light. If the room is too dark, the Echo will display a message that reads “Motion is unavailable because lighting is low.” And while it can spin 175 degrees in each direction, it will reverse and rapidly swing the other way when it reaches the end of either range. This induced mild vertigo for the people on the other end of my video calls, but I don’t imagine there will be many times when you’ll go to the extreme of walking in circles around the display like I did.

Most of the time, you’ll be moving from side to side, and the Echo Show tracked those movements relatively well—unless there was someone else in the room moving in a different direction. It could then become confused over who it was supposed to track. Having one person speak to the display helps with this, since it uses both computer vision and sound to triangulate your location.

camera shutter closed Michael Brown / IDG

If you’re camera shy or don’t want the Echo Show 10 to track you as you move about the room, you can slide this physical shutter over its camera lens.

While this review’s headline is accurate, you needn’t be too concerned about the privacy implications of the Echo Show 10’s ability to track your movements. There’s a MediaTek 8183 chip on board, but all the processing needed to accomplish the rotation trick is performed locally, on the device itself, using Amazon’s new AZ1 Neural Edge processor. No images or videos are uploaded to the cloud for this purpose. But if you still find that tracking feature disconcerting, you can slide a mechanical shutter over the camera’s lens. There’s also a button for disabling its onboard microphones.

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