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Amazon Echo Show 10 vs. Echo Show 8: Which Amazon smart display is better?

Previously, we awarded the top spot to the midsize Show 8, but does the Show 10's 360-degree rotating display and improved sound sway our opinion? Not as much as you might expect.

Dale Smith Former Associate Writer
Dale Smith is a former Associate Writer on the How-To team at CNET.
Dale Smith
5 min read

Bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to smart home gadgets . Case in point -- despite its smaller screen and tinier footprint, we've been recommending Amazon's Echo Show 8 over its heftier sibling -- the second-generation Echo Show -- since the Show 8 debuted in November 2019. However, with the release of the significantly updated Echo Show 10, we were curious if the midsize Show 8 could still hold its own against Amazon's flagship smart display .

It wasn't as easy of a call as last time around. After all, the latest iteration of the Echo Show 10 ups the ante considerably. Not only does it offer significantly more screen space than the smedium-size Echo Show 8, it does something no other smart display on the market can do -- it moves. 

Indeed, the Echo Show 10 will rotate its tablet-size screen to follow your face during video calls or to give you a head-on view of whatever Netflix show you're watching, even as you clean the kitchen. In fact, unless you switch off some of its motion settings, it'll turn your way whenever it responds to any command, whether you're asking for a playlist or the afternoon forecast. 

And that's not the only change. Although the latest Echo Show 10 utilizes the same 10.1-inch HD touch display as its predecessor, the device's sound system got juiced considerably, giving the device crisper, better sound overall than its predecessor. Plus, that rotating display improves the Show 10's security camera capabilities.

So, does the louder, animatronic Echo Show 10 best our previous pick for top Amazon smart display, the Echo Show 8? We compared the two smart home siblings to find out.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The smart speaker revolution began pretty recently, with the 2014 release of the first Alexa-enabled Amazon Echo. And when Amazon revealed the first-generation Echo Show three years later, it didn't just slap a 10-inch Fire tablet on a smart speaker and call it a day, either. It created an entirely new class of products -- the smart display.

The device was designed from the ground up to give you quick access to security camera feeds and to add a visual element when responding to voice commands or inquiries, like a graphical weather forecast. Eventually, Amazon added quick-access controls for smart devices like outlets, light bulbs, thermostats and more, securing the gadget's place at the center of the smart home.

Two years after the debut of the original Echo Show, Amazon expanded its lineup to include two smaller versions of the chonky 10-inch smart display -- the smaller Echo Show 8 and the downright diminutive Show 5

While we found the Echo Show 5 useful as a sort of bedside smart alarm clock, it was simply too small to comfortably watch videos, conduct video calls or function as a full-blown smart home hub. 

The Echo Show 8, however, was smack dab in the Goldilocks zone -- big enough to see what you're doing but compact enough to fit on a countertop or side table without hogging up all the space. It was this combination of smaller form with no loss of function that propelled the Echo Show 8 to the top spot in our list of best Amazon smart displays.

Read our Echo Show 8 review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

If the first two generations of the Echo Shows were chonky, the latest iteration is an absolute unit. Weighing in at 5.6 pounds and occupying a significant amount of real estate -- especially if given the room to swivel freely through all 360-degrees of rotation -- the latest Echo Show 10 is a total goliath.  

What, then, might convince you to clear a tract of horizontal surface for such a monolithic device, when you could fit the Echo Show 8 into your décor a lot more easily? Obviously, there's the it factor of owning the only smart device with a motor, although in our testing we found the feature to be somewhere between cumbersome and creepy. So, what else?

If you're a fan of either the free Alexa Guard or the paid Alexa Guard Plus service, the Echo Show 10 does function a little better than its brethren as a security camera. For one, you can remotely view its video feed with the added benefit of being able to pan around the room. Plus, it's the only Echo Show device that the Alexa app recognizes as a security camera. (Rumor has it such functionality will be rolling out to the other Echo Shows in due time, but until then you can just use the Drop In feature to do essentially the same thing -- minus the panning, of course.)

Then there's the upgraded sound system. The old Show 10's twin 2-inch speaker array was identical to that of the Show 8 -- powerful enough, but a bit muddy in terms of EQ. The new Show 10, however, boasts a pair of 1-inch tweeters, with a louder, thumpier 3-inch woofer filling in the low-end. In our testing, we found that the speakers sounded crisp, clear and free from distortion -- a modest improvement on the Echo Show 8's mids-heavy sonic output -- even as the volume became unbearably loud at 100%. 

There's one more distinction we haven't mentioned yet, and it might be the biggest one of all: cost. The Echo Show 10 retails for an eye-watering $250, which we don't expect to go down anytime soon (not only because the device is brand-new, but Amazon has historically offered few discounts on previous Echo Show models compared to its other smart displays and speakers). And while the Echo Show 8's sticker price of $130 is nothing to sneeze at, in the 16 or so months that device has been on sale, we've seen prices plunge as low as $65 and regularly hover around the $100 mark. 

Read our Echo Show 10 review.

Conclusion: The welterweight once again takes the title

If you're apt to turn off the Echo Show 10's motion settings to minimize the creepiness factor -- and you aren't planning on blasting a lot of loud music from its improved speakers -- it's not clear why you'd feel compelled to spend so much more money to get those features. 

Yes, it might be nifty to drop in and pan the live video feed, but if security camera coverage is your goal, you'd be better off spending the difference on a handful of Wyze cams (they don't pan, but at $25 apiece you could blanket your whole house with them and still not spend as much as you would on an Echo Show 10).

And of course, there's the bigger screen, although we've already determined those extra two diagonal inches (compared to the Echo Show 8) aren't worth the trade-offs in price and tabletop real estate. After all, the underlying operating system is virtually identical on both.

If you think a big, moving screen and louder, more well-defined audio worth the extra dough, by all means, go for it. However, we think most people would be happier with an Echo Show 8 -- and a whole lot fatter wallet. 

Watch this: Amazon Echo Show 10: Alexa puts her spin on moving smart displays