The second-generation Echo Show is great. I placed this 10-inch Alexa-enabled smart display on my kitchen counter and liked how it guided me through recipes, controlled my smart home devices, and shook my small apartment with its booming bass. But after spending some time using the new Echo Show 8, I would choose the smaller, cheaper Amazon display over its premium, clunky cousin any day.
The Amazon Echo Show 8 ($130) solves the budget Echo Show 5’s identity crisis and consolidates the larger Echo Show’s elevated features into a compact, affordable package. Amazon’s fourth smart display exudes stellar sound, while its screen is large enough to enjoy videos. It sacrifices the built-in smart home hub found in the Echo Show, but for all intents and purposes the Echo Show 8 is the best smart speaker with a display Amazon has made. And one I’m actually eager to use at home.
Echo Show 8 price and availability
The Echo Show 8 costs $129.99 and has been available on Amazon since November 21, 2019.
Echo Show 8 design
The 7.9 x 5.4 x 3.9-inch Echo Show 8 looks like a super-sized replica of the Echo Show 5. It’s a homey display with a fabric-swathed substructure that supplements the aesthetic of the third-gen Echo Dot and 2019 Echo speaker.
Unlike the towering, rigid Echo Show, the 36.6-ounce Show 8 is stubby and unassertive. It won’t cramp counter space like the larger Show might.
A 1 megapixel camera sits towards the right side of the top bezel. Four controls decorate the top rim of the Echo Show 8: two buttons for changing volume, one that deactivates the microphone and a physical camera shutter toggle.
The satisfying switch snaps back and forth to conceal the Show 8’s camera, offering a tangible privacy measure. The Echo Show 5 also has a shutter, but Echo Show and Google Nest Hub smart displays have yet to incorporate a comparable mechanism.
Echo Show 8 display and interface
In terms of display size, the Echo Show 8 sits between the Echo Show 5 and second-gen Echo Show. It’s not quite as immersive as the 10-inch Show, but has the same 1280 x 800 resolution.
I used the Show 8 to catch up with the new season of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, a Prime video original, while baking for a holiday party. I was impressed with how well it handled explosions and action sequences. I would still rather watch video on a TV or laptop, but the Echo Show 8’s screen proved a suitable comrade for kitchen activities.
The Show 8’s interface is compatible with most kinds of content. Whether I used the Show to DJ a Spotify playlist, follow a recipe or watch John Krasinski take down terrorists, the screen adapted to capitalize on real estate.
It could be smoother to switch between different functions and multitask, though. The card-based interface of the Google Nest Hub Max is more user-friendly and allows you to juggle several programs at once.
Echo Show 8 camera quality
When I learned the Echo Show 8’s camera has a 1-MP resolution, I thought the second-generation Echo Show’ 5-MP lens would justify its premium price. But as I tested the quality using Alexa Drop-In from my iPhone, the Show 8 proved me wrong.
While the Show’s camera produced a noticeably brighter image with sharper details in my hair and surroundings, the Show 8’s picture is perfectly acceptable for video calls. I see no need to spend $100 more for a caller to see my blonde highlights better.
Echo Show 8 audio quality
The Echo Show 8’s size deceives its audio prowess. The dual 2-inch speakers produce crisp and booming sound, but the fullness depends on which way it’s facing.
Listening to Billie Eilish’s “everything I wanted” with the display facing me made my table vibrate with potent bass. Eilish’s dreamy vocals sounded clear, but some of the song’s intricate midranges were lost. For full-sounding audio, I had to turn the display side away from me so the speaker’s output could reach my ears unbridled.
The larger speaker in Echo Show emits overall fuller and louder sound, but once again not enough to make it more valuable than the Show 8. With so many excellent Alexa speakers out there, the smart display isn’t designed to be a primary audio device.
Echo Show 8 Alexa features
The Echo Show 8 is a visual vehicle for Amazon’s voice assistant. Between compatibility with voice commands and manual controls within the interface, the Echo Show 8 acts as a one-stop smart home remote. You can use it to turn on your smart lights, manage routines and check your video doorbell. It supports hands-free calling and the Alexa Drop In intercom feature, too.
Alexa is always getting new skills, but some the the best Alexa skills are exclusive to displays, like live cooking classes from the Food Network. Amazon partnered with the culinary television savant to bring instruction from celebrity chefs into your home kitchen. I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing if the Food Network app subscription is worth it now that I plan to keep an Echo Show 8 in my kitchen.
One notable drawback of Alexa on the Echo Show 8 is that you can’t ask it to launch YouTube videos. You can still access YouTube within the display, but it’s a frustrating process. As I found in my smart assistant sous-chef face-off, Google Assistant has the advantage in that court.
Get the Echo Show 8 if you’re looking for an affordable smart display that sounds great and supports all of Alexa’s superpowers. It’s a significant upgrade from the Echo Show 5, and just as clever as the second-gen Echo Show for $100 less. And, it has a physical camera shutter, an essential privacy feature.
Amazon is always looking for ways to smother homes with Alexa, yet the Show 8 doesn’t feel as niche or as entitled as other attempts at invasion. It turns Alexa into an entertainment station that’s easy on counter space.