Amazon is morphing your Fire HD tablets into Echo Show smart speakers

Amazon Fire Tablet Echo Show mode

In advance of Prime Day, Amazon has discounted the Echo Show smart speaker to a all-time-low $160 (about £122 / AU$220). But, if that still sounds too high, just turn your Amazon tablet into a speaker instead. 

Back in April, Amazon updated its tablets to respond to Alexa voice commands. In Hands-Free mode, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th generation Fire tablets can respond to the same queries you’d normally ask your Echo speakers. 

Now, Amazon plans to roll out a new Show Mode for Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets. It’s a full-screen, always-on UI that, as with the Echo Show, shows up-to-date times, news and weather, and will respond to voice commands with large graphics and text that Amazon claims can be easily read from across a room. 

Show Mode will roll out in a free update to Fire 8 and 10 HD tablets on July 2. 

Even more exciting, Amazon has opened pre-orders for the Show Mode Charging Dock. Drop your tablet into the Dock, and it will automatically charge and enter Show Mode; remove it, and the tablet will immediately switch back to its regular UI. 

Your Fire tablet will charge wirelessly, and magnets will guide your tablet into position | Credit: Amazon

Your Fire tablet will charge wirelessly, and magnets will guide your tablet into position | Credit: Amazon

(Image: © Amazon)

With an adjustable kickstand and magnets to keep your tablet in place, the Show Mode Charging Dock follows the same principles as a Nintendo Switch, making it easy to switch between docked speaker mode and portable mode without having to tap settings. 

You can pre-order the Dock for the Fire 8 HD for $35 (about £26 / AU$48), or Fire HD 10 for $50 (about £38/ AU$68). Both prices will go up by $5 when it officially goes on sale on July 12. 

If you don’t own a Fire tablet, you can get a bundle with the Fire HD 8 for around $110 (about £84 / AU$150)—well below what you’d pay for an Echo Show—or the HD 10 for around $190 (about £145 / AU$260). 

A great Show alternative (with one caveat)

You can’t carry your Echo Show around the house with you, watch movies on it, or do anything else you’d normally enjoy on any tablet. Combining speaker and tablet into one device is an exciting move for Amazon. 

The Echo Show - not so portable | Credit: Amazon

The Echo Show - not so portable | Credit: Amazon

Echo Show will still have an edge over these makeshift portable speakers, however. Built specifically for voice control, the devices have better built-in mics and speakers than Fire HD tablets. 

It’s actually a bit disappointing that the Show Mode Charging Dock doesn’t solve this; the product listing recommends you connect your tablet to Bluetooth speakers.

So we’ll have to get our hands on a Dock this July and see how well and quickly our tablets register our commands, compared to an Echo Show built specifically for the job.