The Echo Show, essentially an Alexa device with a large screen, is a great device if you’ve bought into the smart home. As well as providing the usual hand-free advantages of an Alexa speaker, you can use the screen to see details of the music playing, peep through your security camera or just see who’s at the door, if you have a smart doorbell.
But, currently selling for a penny under £220, it’s expensive. Alternatively, recent versions of Amazon’s Fire HD tablet (the latest Fire HD 7, 7th or 8th Generation Fire HD 8 or 7th Generation Fire HD 10) have included a special hand-free mode, named Show Mode. This allows the tablet to respond to the usual “Alexa” wake-word and then display results full-screen.
So, if you already have a compatible Fire HD tablet you can easily recreate the functionality of an Echo Show. Before we get into the details of various ways of setting this up, let’s first look at the differences.
Comparison of an Echo Show to a Fire HD Tablet
|Echo Show||10.1in||1,280 x 800|
|Fire HD 7||7in||1,024 x 600|
|Fire HD 8||8in||1,280 x 800|
|Fire HD 10||10.1in||1,920 x 1200|
Where the Echo Show does have an advantage however, is that it has three features not part of the Fire HD tablet:
- A higher quality speaker, giving much improved audio quality – pairing the tablet with a separate Bluetooth speaker is the solution here but, if you don’t already have something, this adds further cost
- A built-in hub for compatible Zigbee devices – this may, or may not, affect you
Setting up a Fire HD table for Show Mode
The cheapest solution is if you already have a Fire HD tablet. Place your tablet on a stand and you’ll have a simple alternative to the Echo Show.
But, Amazon makes it even easier, as they now sell a “Show Mode Charging Dock” – this is a wireless case for the tablet which drops onto a stand. When on the stand, the tablet will not only charge but the screen will remain on in Show Mode.
To buy the dock on its own costs £39.99 – £49.99, depending on the model of tablet you have. You can save an additional £10 by purchasing the dock at the same time as the tablets, resulting in costs of £109.99 for the Fire HD 8 or £189.98 for the Fire HD 10. At the moment, the dock isn’t available for the Fire HD 7.
Are the alternatives worth it?
This really boils down to your specific needs and existing kit – if you don’t need a hub and you have a Bluetooth speaker to hand (or don’t need it for music) then the savings can be worthwhile.
If you ignore the cost of the Bluetooth speaker, then it can cost you anything from zero to £189.98, depending on the configuration. That compares to £219.99 for the Echo Show.
On top of that, you also have a multi-purpose tablet and, in the case of the Fire HD 10, a far superior display.
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