Lenovo’s Smart Tab with Alexa Show Mode is better than Amazon’s Fire HD 10 in so many ways

One of the most interesting 3rd-party Alexa devices to come out of CES 2019 is easily the new Lenovo Smart Tab line of Android tablets with an included speaker dock. They are the first 3rd-party tablets to use Amazon’s Show Mode feature with hands-free Alexa built-in, which essentially turns them into an Echo Show when docked. Unlike Amazon’s own Show Mode Dock for their Fire tablets, which is nothing more than a charging stand that triggers Show Mode, Lenovo has put Dolby Atmos speakers and 3 far-field microphones in the dock to make this a true alternative to the Echo Show.

At its core, the Leno Smart Tab is a 10.1-inch tablet running Android 8.1 Oreo. It’s noteworthy that these tablets run Google’s version of Android and come with the Google Play Store, which most people prefer to Amazon’s Fire OS and Amazon Appstore, due to Google’s much larger app selection. There are several Smart Tab versions with slightly different specs, ranging from $199.99 to $349.99, but they all include the speaker dock, have the same 1920 x 1200 resolution screen, 1.8 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 450 CPU, and a micro SD card slot. The tablet feels much more premium and nicer in the hand than any of Amazon’s Fire tablets.

Compared to Amazon’s Fire HD 10, you can probably expect single-core benchmark scores of Amazon’s tablet to perform slightly higher than Lenovo’s tablet, but Lenovo’s 8 CPU cores will likely score nearly double that of Amazon’s 4 cores in multi-core benchmarks. In real-world use, Lenovo’s Smart Tab should feel slightly snappier than Amazon’s Fire HD 10, but neither one will feel sluggish or obviously superior than the other.

The Lenovo Smart Tab M10 base model comes with 16GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM, 4,850 mAK battery, a 5MP rear camera, and a 2MP front camera. It includes the speaker dock, which I’ll get to in more detail shortly, for $199.99. That’s just $10 more than Amazon’s Fire HD 10 with Show Mode Dock. Apart from getting twice the internal storage with the Fire HD 10 package, the Smart Tab is a much better value thanks to the significantly superior dock. To match the Fire HD 10’s internal storage, you can get the Smart Tab M10 with 32GB of internal storage for $249.99. The extra $50 also increases the RAM from 2GB to 3GB.

Spending another $50 moves you up to the Smart Tab P10 base model which also has 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM. The $299.99 price doubles the battery to 7,000 mAH, increases the cameras to an 8MP rear camera + 5MP front camera, and adds a finger-print reader. The P10 also has a glass back, versus the M10’s plastic back, and it also has 4 front facing Dolby Atmos speakers, versus the M10’s 2 front facing Dolby Atmos speakers. Yet another $50 gets you the top-of-the-line flagship $349.99 model which has 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM.

Regardless of which model you choose, they all come with the same speaker dock that wirelessly charges the tablet via pogo pins built into the side of the tablet. This is far superior to Amazon’s charging case that is required for their Show Mode Dock. Lenovo’s dock features a pair of 3-watt Dolby Atmos speakers that work in conjunction with the two top speakers on the tablet for significantly richer sound than you get out of the Fire HD 10’s speakers. The dock has volume buttons, a mute button to disable the 3 far-field mics in the dock for hands-free Alexa, and a Bluetooth pairing button.

When placed in the dock, the Smart Tab automatically launches Amazon’s Show Mode, which replicates the functionality of the Amazon Echo Show. The speakers and mics in the dock make for a much more equivalent experience to an Echo Show than Amazon’s Fire HD 10 and Show Mode Dock, which relay on the tablets built-in speakers and microphone, which were likely not designed to be used from across a room.

The only concern I see with the Lenovo Smart Tab is it not getting newer Alexa features as quickly as Amazon’s own hardware, which is common for most 3rd-party Alexa devices. Amazon’s own Fire HD 10 with Show Mode didn’t get Alexa announcements and drop-in support until 5 months after release, so it’s probably safe to expect that these Smart Tabs would see similar, if not worse, new Alexa feature delays. That said, if you’re considering the Smart Tab over the Fire HD 10 with Show Mode dock, Lenovo’s product seems to be the obvious choice. I would probably still choose the Smart Tab over an Echo Show, due to its 2-in-1 functionality of being a tablet and smart speaker/display, but that’s certainly a harder decision.

The Lenovo Smart Tab M10 is $199.99 with 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM and the M10 is $249.99 with 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM. The Smart Tab P10 is $299.99 with the same specs but superior build, battery, cameras, speakers, and a finger print reader. The flagship P10 for $349.99 has 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM.

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37 comments
  1. Hilario says:

    So they made a tablet with a speaker dock. And you’re touting this as the greatest invention since sliced bread?

    • Len Mullen says:

      Right. What I don’t understand is why Alexa Show Mode is not an app for any computer. I would love to run Plex on a computer in Show Mode. Seems plausible.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Not sure how saying it’s better than the Fire HD 10 means it’s “the greatest invention since sliced bread,” but I guess I am a bit overly enthusiastic about it. There’s just a lot more you get for about the same price as the Fire HD 10, which is not a small feat when Amazon’s hardware prices are so competitive.

      • hdmkv says:

        These do look cool & priced competitively. Having premium ATMOS audio is a plus, and the convenience of full Google play w/o having to sideload on Fire tablets. I know it’s easy, but maybe not so for most users. If these tablets aren’t as heavy & nicer than than Fire HD10, which they look to be, I’ll bite.

      • AR says:

        that dock is hideous though
        why didnt they make it look like an echo show it would make so much more sense , that think would look out of place anywhere the design language is the worst i have ever seen
        the show mode dock should look almost exactly like an echo show 2nd gen when the tablet is docked ,like being able to lift the screen away from a 2nd gen echo show , but maybe with less depth to it
        this design is ugly and makes no sense
        i do wonder since it does run full android if you can install the google app and the google assistant app and also get hands free google assistant running on this device side by side with alexa

    • Nick Hathaway says:

      That’s a gross oversimplification. Using Alexa with a screen is pretty handy for recipes. It’s about not having to get your device dirty while in the kitchen (if you were to use a tablet or phone).

      Additionally, the functionality of two devices in one at this price point makes it attractive for a lot of people who couldn’t justify buying a Google Smart Display or Echo Show since they serve very niche use cases.

  2. Gerry Allen says:

    This really looks superior to the Fire HD 10 (we have two) for use as a tablet + show. For use in the kitchen, where our 2nd generation Show works, this seems like too much compromise.
    Also, it’s hard to audition these things without purchase, test, return, repeat. So, looks like we will pass.

  3. davewongillies says:

    I want that but for Google Assistant

  4. Robert Ffrench says:

    I agree that this is a terrific device, that is long overdue. I have been wanting something like this for years. I would lobe to see one made for the google assistant. I just wish the tablet was dead center when docked for a more symmetrical look. Lenovo should consider putting the buttons at the front or increasing the length of the side without buttons.

  5. Jeff C. says:

    I think the price comparison between the Fire HD10 and the Smart Tab exaggerated their closeness in price.

    The effective price for “value shoppers” (i.e. the readers of this site) for the Fire and its dock is only around $125 due due their frequent and steep sales as promptly reported here. The Smart Tabs start much higher than that and quickly climb into almost iPad price territory, so they *should* be much better.

    • OG Charlie says:

      $125 for the Fire 10 + dock compared to $200 for the Smart Tab + speaker dock

      Not bad considering the Smart Tab’s dock is significantly better, the tablet comes with Google Play by default, better cameras and no special offers you have to pay to remove.

    • AFTVnews says:

      It’s unfair to compare one device’s sale price to the other device’s full retail pre-order price. If you must compare sale prices, the lowest I recall the Fire HD 10 with dock being is $144.99, which is about a 24% drop from its regular price of $189.99. I can see the Lenovo Smart Tab drop from $199.99 to $149.99, which would be an equivalent sale. For comparison, the top Lenovo 10-inch tablet on Amazon is the Lenovo Tab 4. It retails for $179.99 and dropped to $125.99 during its first Black Friday. That’s a 30% drop.

  6. Nick Hathaway says:

    I wish the dock were an Echo Dot when the tablet wasn’t docked. Other than that, this device is very enticing.

  7. Mike says:

    I bought the HDFire 10 ,32Gb, for $169.00.. Amazon had a deal,buy 3 and get $150.00 back.. so basically got 3 for the price of 2, or 3 tablets for around $400.,at 32gb! Worked perfect as me and my 2 kids needed tablet..Christmas presents!!.Simply download Google Playstore, and boom, an amazing tablet at about $130ea.. don’t need the docking station, but maybe someday will use it

    • Cathy Gould says:

      Simply download Google Playstore? Can you do that? All I’ve seen is 3 pages of instructions involving four or more programs.

      • RB says:

        Go to YouTube for a video on how to do it. You’ll find instructions and the links for the 4 downloads. Super easy.

      • Dondraper23 says:

        Google Account Manager APK, Google Services Framework APK, Google Play Services APK and then Google Play Store APK (in that exact order)

  8. I guess we all implicitly agree to overlook the typos here and in other sites in the rapid rush to submit a post, but one complaint warrants a comment while that didn’t.

    this is not wireless charging. it’s actually superior- and something I’ve wanted for a while, but wireless is not accurate.

    would you call old cordless phones charging on the base station wireless charging? those also used pogo pins/ spring contacts/ and perhaps other connection styles. but while it’s a wireless/cordless phone it’s charging is very much not.

    mini rant ends.

    (I do welcome more devices charging in this manner, because whens the last time most people used the USB connection for data transfer? hell even the USB should be pogo pins. I think the phones with hardware add-ons probably support this.)

    • AFTVnews says:

      I’m fully with you against calling this wireless charging. I don’t like that trend since we have actual wireless charging. But, there are plenty of people who don’t know what pogo pins are, so I think saying “wireless charging via pogo pins” is the best middle ground, which is what I did for this article.

  9. Raheen says:

    Ok that’s great but my Fire 10 HD cost $119. That’s the whole point is that the Fire tablets are dirt cheap and perform REALLY well for low price point. To say another tablet that costs 67% more feels slighty faster and higher quality seems like a “…and water is wet” type of argument.

    • OG Charlie says:

      Why’s everybody jumping to the most expensive model when comparing the two? The base Smart Tab is on par with the base Fire 10. $200 with the speaker dock included versus $120 for a dockless Fire 10. Add the Fire Show dock and the price gap between the two is only $40.

      • Elmwood says:

        Of course Lenovo’s middle end to high end devices are better and more expensive than Amazon’s extreme budget ones. The claim that the price differential between the two 10″ tablets and their docks is insignificant is faulty for two reasons.

        First, your figures are not accurate. The Fire10 can be purchased for $99 if you have patience to wait for the discounted price which occurs every couple of months. Lenovo does not discount their products as often or as deeply, if at all, as Amazon. The Fire dock is often on sale for $25-$30.

        But even if we ACCEPT your price points, a difference of “only” $40 is not at all insignificant. It is fully 25% more for the cheapest Lenovo tablet (16GB) than for the Amazon combo (32GB). For some, this “isn’t money.” For others, it is.

        • AFTVnews says:

          There are a lot of inaccurate numbers being thrown around in these comments. The lowest the Fire HD 10 has ever been on Amazon is $99.99. The lowest the Fire HD 10 Show Mode dock has ever been on its own is $44.99. The lowest the Fire HD 10 and dock set has ever been is $144.99.

          So the Fire HD 10 with dock at $144.99 can be compared to the Lenovo Smart Tab at $199.99, but that’s not fair either because your comparing the lowest sale price of one to the retail price of the other. The retail price of the Fire HD 10 with dock is $189.98. Nobody knows how low the Lenovo Smart Tab will be when it eventually goes on sale, but a drop to $149.99 as it’s lowest ever point isn’t unreasonable. Plenty of Lenovo tablets have seen 25% off sales.

  10. Norman Penn says:

    Wonder if they will sell the dock seperate?
    Might be nice having a dock in bedroom and kitchen but only need one tablet for example.

  11. Dondraper23 says:

    Though, I highly suggest just rooting the Fire HD10. I don’t know if these Lenovo tablets will be nearly as easy to root.

  12. Craig says:

    I’d rather have Google develop a Home Hub mode for general Android Play Services tablets that morphs any android tablet into a Home Hub mode and duplicates a Google Home Hub device…kinda like how you can use Android Auto on your phone, without needing a car dash plug-in.

  13. Apples vs oranges says:

    Yup, people are just being dense.

    Your main point stands and is absolutely correct.

    Those using apples to oranges comparisons don’t and won’t ever get it.

  14. S. Miller says:

    Elias I support your post. Sorry many people do not.

  15. Michael says:

    I’d like to see a 7″ version of this. Then it could replace the tablet I carry around and eliminate the need for a second one.

  16. hegemon13 says:

    Is it possible to disable Show Mode while docked, but still use the dock speakers? I like Show Mode, but too many apps are unavailable. We mostly use Plex or the HDHomeRun app for video in our kitchen, and as far as I know, neither plays video in Show Mode (although I haven’t tried recently). I have to switch our HD10 to tablet mode for that.

    But man, that speaker-integrated dock is awesome, and it’s what the Amazon one should have been.

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