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Amazon Show Mode Charging Dock review: A tablet accessory worth getting fired up about

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The Good The Amazon Show Mode Charging Dock is a docking station that turns a current Fire HD 8 or HD 10 into an Echo Show. It includes a slim case and charges your tablet.

The Bad The case is pretty simple and doesn't have a premium look or feel. No Echo-style far-field microphones. It costs more than it should.

The Bottom Line The Amazon Show Mode Charging Dock is a smart, convenient way to get double duty from your Fire tablet while keeping it charged, too.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

Amazon wants you to think of your Fire tablet as not just a tablet, but a full-fledged Alexa-enabled device -- or more precisely, a slimmed down Echo Show

It's called Show Mode, and it's available now as a free software update for current-generation Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets. Like the Echo Show, the new mode serves up full-screen visuals to complement voice responses from Alexa. Without touching your tablet, you can ask Alexa to play music and Prime videos, see trending news, the weather report, calendars, camera feeds and more. It's a pretty nifty feature, and owners of those tablets will definitely want to check it out.

If you already have a case with a built-in stand, you can just put your Fire tablet into Show Mode -- you access the feature by swiping down from the top of the tablet to reveal the settings menu -- and pretend your tablet's an Echo Show (the HD 8 has to be plugged into power to use Show Mode but that's not required for the HD 10).

The Fire HD 10 docked in Show Mode.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What the new Show Mode Charging Dock does is create a more elegant Show experience. This docking station accessory costs $40 for the HD 8 and $55 for the HD 10 and is only compatible with current models. It includes a cover that magnetically adheres to the dock, fixing your device in place on the angled stand. (UK and Australian pricing is not yet available, but we'll update this when we get it.)

How does it work? Well, the basic, slim case -- it's made of hard plastic -- has a short, integrated Micro-USB charging cable that plugs into the USB port on the bottom of your tablet. To charge your tablet, you set it in the dock -- there are two contact "pogo" pins -- with the magnets in the tablet cover helping to align the back of the tablet cover with the pogo pins in the stand. So while there's a wire from the dock to the wall, for all intents and purposes it's a wireless charging experience.

If you're wondering whether leaving the tablet in the dock for extended periods will damage the battery, it won't, says Kevin Keith, general manager of Amazon Devices. It's also worth mentioning that the dock has no additional microphones to enhance Alexa's listening capabilities.

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