Review of the Show Mode Dock for Amazon Fire HD 8 & HD 10 Tablets

Amazon’s new Show Mode feature for their Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets does a great job of replicating most of the Echo Show’s capabilities, as I discussed in my earlier article about the feature. The Show Mode Dock for those tablets is an optional accessory that adds a level of convenience to the Show Mode feature by holding the tablet at a viewable angle and seamlessly automating the transition between Show Mode and regular tablet mode.

The Show Mode Dock is sold in a Fire HD 8 variant for $34.99 and a Fire HD 10 variant for $49.99. You can also buy the dock bundled with a Fire HD 8 for $109.99 or bundled with a Fire HD 10 for $189.99, which, for either bundle, is slightly cheaper than buying the dock and tablet separately. Amazon also sells just the case portion for the Fire HD 8 for $14.99 and just the case portion for the Fire HD 10 for $24.99, so if you have multiple tablets, you could buy one dock and use it for multiple tablets by purchasing additional cases.

In the box, you get a case, the dock, a power adapter, and a micro USB cable that plugs into the back of the dock. Interestingly, the power adapter that comes with the Show Mode Dock is a 9W adapter, whereas the power adapter that comes with Amazon’s tablets is a 5W adapter. I assume this is because Show Mode draws more power in certain instances than the original adapter can deliver, so you’ll want to use the included power adapter and not just plug your current power adapter into the dock.

The case that remains attached to the tablet is nearly identical in shape to Amazon’s official tablet cases but without the front cover. There are openings on the top for the tablet’s speakers, but there is no opening on the bottom for the micro SD card slot, so you’ll need to remove the tablet from the case to access its expandable storage slot. The sides of the case, apart from the corners, are open, giving easy access to the headphone jack and buttons.

On the back of the case is an opening for the camera and a pair of metal circles that make contact with two small prongs on the dock. This is how the tablet wirelessly charges when it is mounted in the dock. The case has a white low-profile micro USB plug that you leave connected to the tablet. The plug slides in and out and is hinged so it can easily be moved out of the way if you need to remove the tablet from the case.

My only complaint about the case is that it does not have a kickstand. The regular tablet case that Amazon makes is designed in such a way that the cover can be folded back to serve as a kickstand. You lose that functionality with this case since the Show Mode Dock case has no front cover. It would be great if future versions of the Show Mode Dock case came with an embedded kickstand, but I suspect that future Amazon tablets may come with the charging circles built directly into the back of the tablet, negating the need for a case entirely.

The stand portion of the Show Mode Dock is fairly unobtrusive. It’s made of plastic but is heavier than it looks, so I suspect there is metal inside weighing it down so it doesn’t move when you’re interacting with the tablet’s touchscreen. There are also 4 rubber feet, two on the front and two on the hinged portion, to help keep it from sliding on a smooth surface.

The hinged leg allows the dock to be positioned almost vertically, completely flat, or anywhere in between. Two cutouts for the cord and a recessed micro USB port allow the dock to be adjusted to any angle without the cord getting in the way or making it wobble.

There are magnets to the left and right of the charging points on both the case and the stand that help you properly align the tablet to the dock. When you place the tablet on the dock, you can feel when the magnets align, so you know it’s in the correct position. I would have liked the magnets to be stronger so that they pull the tablet into alignment if it’s off-center. It’s relatively easy to place the tablet down in the wrong position if you’re not careful, so you pretty much always have to slide the tablet left or right until you feel the magnets align, unless you took the time to initially center it as it’s being placed down.

When you place the tablet on the Show Mode Dock, it automatically switches into Show Mode. When you lift the tablet up, it automatically switches back into regular tablet mode. There is an option in the settings to disable this behavior if you prefer to manually control when it switches modes. Switching can be done manually by either tapping a toggle option in the drop-down notification panel, or by saying “Alexa, launch/exit Show Mode.” You can switch between modes anytime while the tablet is docked, even if the automatic setting is enabled.

A sound/chime is played out of the tablet’s speakers every time it is docked and undocked. While it’s a reassuring sound that lets you know you properly aligned the charging points, there doesn’t appear to be a way to disable the sound so I can see it becoming annoying, especially when docking/undocking the tablet at night while others are asleep. If you mute the tablet’s speakers altogether, you won’t hear the sound.

Another gripe I have is that there is very little control over the state of the display. There are several options to control what is displayed, such as what ambient information (i.e., Home Cards) is displayed, if a clock should be shown while asleep, or whether or not to display photos. But there aren’t any options to control when the screen should be on, when it should be asleep, when it should be off entirely. The tablet seems to use the front camera to detect motion and wake up on its own, and you can always wake it up by tapping the screen or speaking an Alexa command, but I would have liked to have more granular control over the screen’s state. You also cannot tell Alexa to turn off the screen, like you can with the Echo Show, so you must press the power button to turn the screen off.

Ultimately, the lack of screen control doesn’t affect the dock or the tablet’s functionality much, but it would have been nice to have. Overall, the Show Mode Dock is a great addition to the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablet. Paired with the Show Mode feature, it adds a lot of functionality to the tablet for not much more money. As long as you’re okay with not having powerful speakers, the lack of drop-in support (plus missing other minor features), as mentioned in my Show Mode overview, the Show Mode Dock is an excellent alternative to the Echo Show.

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35 comments
  1. Ian King says:

    Great review. One clarifying question: Can the device be switched into standard tablet mode while it is in the Shoe dock?

    I’ve love it if Alexa could control the device while it is in tablet mode, e.g,, if I could ask Alexa to read e-mails, or notes that I have stored in Evernote.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Yes, you can say “Alexa, exit Show Mode” while it is docked to switch to the regular tablet interface. You can also say “Alexa launch [app]” to launch any of the regular tablet apps you have installed. Alexa cannot control or read from your tablet apps, so you’ll have to use the touch screen once in an app.

      • Ian King says:

        I found that I was able to have Alexa open the Evernote app when my HD8 is in Show mode. Alexa caused my HD8 to switch to tablet mode and open Evernote

  2. Joshua Timothy says:

    One solution to not having to turn the screen off is you can say “Alexa, set brightness to 1%” or visa versa, setting the value between 1-100.

    Volume is values 1-10

  3. Charlie says:

    Is anybody excited about this?

    • Rob Katz says:

      I’ve tested the Show Mode on my mom’s HD8 without the dock and I find it to be pretty useless. I’m glad I tried it because I have my dad’s HD10 rooted and blocked OTA updates. I was going to update it to 5.6.2 but didn’t see the need. I’ve seen alot of people having issues with the update

      • Daniel Bod says:

        How do you block the OTA updates?

        I was able to update mine to 5.6.2. I previously turned off Show Mode and restarted a couple of times.

        Some other update installed, and I can still use my Nova Launcher and widgets.

  4. Joe says:

    I found the other Echo Dots in my home would hear me better no matter how close I got to the 8 inch Fire Tablet/Dock. This device needs to be fairly isolated to be useful. I am shipping my dock back to Amazon.

    • Joshua Timothy says:

      I noticed that as well on my Fire HD 8. I just changed the wake word on the tablet to “Amazon” so when I want it do do something I call it directly.

      • joe says:

        Good idea but only if I can train the household to use a different word :-)

      • Yoandme2 says:

        I have tried changing the wake word on my hd8 but cannot find that option. According to Amazon, it can’t be done and I will have to change my dots and leave the tablet at Alexander.

        Sure like to know how you did it.

        Thanks

        • Yoandme2 says:

          Alexa stupid auto correct

          • Alien says:

            There are two choices of wake word now in the settings section of Alexa on an hd8: “Alexa” and “Amazon”. Not a problem for me as I’d alresdy changed the wake word to “Echo” on my Dots, firstly because I got sick of saying Alexa and Echo is easier to say and secondly because I don’t like humanising my technology.

        • AFTVnews says:

          You can change the wake word by going to the tablet’s settings and selecting the Alexa section. To get to the settings, swipe down from the top of the tablet and tap the gear icon in the upper right.

      • tampa8 says:

        Where do you see somewhere to that?

  5. Ben salehin says:

    If the screen is ON the entire time the tab is in show mode will it not kill the battery faster?

  6. Llyod says:

    I don’t have the official be dock, but my fire 8 has a case can with a built-in to stand. When I put it in show mode, the screen flips upside-down, and no was to change it unless turning the whole case upside-down.

    • William Petrie says:

      Same problem here. Can’t flip in case because buttons and cameras now blocked. Need update to allow 180 rotation on screen

      • AFTVnews says:

        Interesting. The regular Fire HD 10 case happens to be oriented correctly, so it can be used for Show Mode. Ultimately, the issue not the case, but that the Show Mode UI does not rotate with the tablet’s orientation. I bet this will be fixed with a software update soon.

  7. Grahame says:

    Is there a way to stop Show Mode going to “sleep” where the screen goes dim? I have my Fire 8 on my nightstand but since I take my glasses off at night the dim screen makes it very difficult to see when I just want a quick time check. I know it goes dim because some people don’t want a bright night light, but what about those who do?

  8. Daniel Bod says:

    How do you block the OTA updates?

    I was able to update mine to 5.6.2. I previously turned off Show Mode and restarted a couple of times.

    Some other update installed, and I can still use my Nova Launcher and widgets.

  9. John says:

    Any noticeable difference in charging time while on the base? Does the tablet charge faster/slower vs using power block (that came with tablet)?

  10. Ehowland says:

    I have my daughter’s Fire HD8 when it first launched (just checked it is a Gen5)

    What limitations do a “Generation 5” Fire HD8 have? If I get a showdock and gen7 HD8 (ugh) and I get a spare case, will it physically fit the Gen5 HD8 just for charging? I understand “Show mode” will never work on Gen5 but how about just the charging? If I KNEW it would charge I might get a show dock for her Gen5 HD8 for that charging alone. Are there any better aftermarket charging cases out there for a Gen5 HD8? I HATE how every time I find her HD8 it is dead, as standby goes from 100% to 0% in 2 or 3 days (did this since day one). I have a 6 year old iPad2 and it last over a month on standby…

  11. RT says:

    If you have both sized tablets in your home, can you use the HD 10 Show Mode dock with the HD 8 tablet, and the HD 8 Show Mode dock with the HD 10?

  12. EHowland says:

    The docks appear the same, it is the cases that are specific. After much research I finally found a comment SOMEWHERE from an owner the Gen6 FireHD’s USB port is in slightly different place and the “show dock” connector does not slide in. So No hope for the Gen5 if the Gen6 does not align…

    • Ehowland says:

      To be clear, gen6 Fire HD8 charging port was CLOSE to same location but just far enough away not to work… (not sure on older HD10)

  13. Thomas says:

    Are you guys having issues with the slideshow function on show mode? Both my HD 8s do not continuously scroll through my Prime photos. Despite making changes to the speed to slow normal or fast it pretty much stuck to one or two photos. I’m assuming it’s a software glitch but wanted to see how it is others.

  14. Ian King says:

    The Alexa app on my iPhone now always indicates that my HD8 is offline. Therefore, I am unable to use the app to change settings. Anyone else have this problem or know what to do about it? I’m considering unregistering and the reregistering my HD8, but am afraid I’ll end up with two devices listed in the app, one of which is always offline

    • Ian King says:

      Amazon tech support tells me that Port 123 and Port 33434 must be open for the Alexa app to work properly with my HD 8. Those ports are blocked by my Luma WiFi router. So, that may be why the Alexa app shows the HD 8 as offline even when it is online. However that explanation means that the app interacts differently than it does with an Echo or a Spot since both of those products continue to show up as online. Anyone else having this problem?

      • Ian King says:

        I received the following information from Amazon Customer Service:

        “As per the development team, any device that could show up as online would have the DeviceTypeCapability.PERSISTENT_CONNECTION capability, but the Fire tablets do not.”

        I guess this means it is essentially impossible to control the settings of a tablet using the Alexa app. That would seem to be a significant bug. Anyone have a solution?

  15. marvin newman says:

    I just received the show mode dock and tried using the drop in mode on it to connect to my amazon show in my computer room. I saw the person on the show, but it does not show my video of me on my show mode dock. How do I get it to show my video on my end to the other person that I am calling?

  16. Wrecks says:

    After all this time, my Fire HD8 still does not have a show mode. My HD10 got show mode weeks ago, that that’s not the one I want to leave running.

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