Back when Amazon announced the Echo Show, the first thought that crossed my mind was whether this was a worthwhile purchase - and whether you could get the same sort of thing by hooking an Echo to a Fire Tablet. I had that same thought when Amazon rolled out Alexa to cheaper Fire tablets earlier this year, and now the lines are even more blurred with the launch of 'Show Mode'.
Show Mode is going to roll out to all Fire HD 8 and HD 10 tablets from 2nd July, bringing with it a full-screen UI that shows the same sorts of things as an Echo show. The time, weather news, let you call friends, and so on, with large text and graphics that are designed to be seen across the room. If that sounds familiar, it's because that what Amazon told me was he key difference between the Echo Show and Alexa-enabled Fire tablets back in April.
"This new move increasingly blurs the lines between the Fire Tablets and Amazon's own Echo Show, which offers a more visual Alexa experience. When I asked Amazon what the difference was, they said that the Fire Tablet is designed for personal entertainment while the Echo Show is supposed to be used by everyone and has a UI that 's still informative at a distance of 10-20 feet away"
Naturally Show Mode will also include Alexa voice commands, much like the tablets have already.
Here's the clincher, because Amazon has also announced the release of something called the Show Mode dock. It's a charging stand for Fire HD 8 and HD 10 tablets that will automatically open Show Mode when you slide the tablet in. Pulling it out, naturally, switches off Show Mode so you can use the tablet for tablety things. The stand also doubles as a charger, to stop your tablet's battery being drained too quickly.
But here's the bad news. There's currently no mention of UK availability, and the US site refuses to ship to the UK, which is so typical of Amazon. It announces a new gadget, then doesn't release it outside the US for months, or even years. I've emailed to see whether there is any UK-centric information, and simply told me there's nothing to announce right now.
Hopefully the wait won't be too long, but if you're interested in the US price, the Fire HD 8 dock will cost $40 while the HD 10's will be $55. Both will get a $5 introductory discount, and will be bundled with their respective tablets for $110 and $190 respectively. Both are set to be released on 11th July, and are available to pre-order now. Not that you can buy one yet.
Still this show that Amazon recognises that the Echo Show doesn't offer much that can't already be accomplished by one of its own tablets, and is giving customers the option of having the functionality rolled into a device they may already own - or can find alternative uses for. [TechRadar]