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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

The $129 Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) has a clever new auto-framing camera for video chats, making the best affordable Alexa display even better.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review
Editor's Choice
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Our Verdict

The $129 Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) has a clever new auto-framing camera for video chats, making the best affordable Alexa display even better.

For

  • Display feels more responsive
  • Auto-framing works well
  • Good sound for size
  • Comes with Amazon Sidewalk

Against

  • Wish it offered more upgrades
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) specs

Size: 7.9 x 5.4 x 3.9 inches
Display: 8 inches/1280 x 800
Audio: Dual one-inch tweeters
Camera: 13MP
Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Sidewalk

The Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)’s camera earned a major upgrade, so even if you’re a little sick of speaking to loved ones via video chat these days, you’ll look good while doing it.

Since the first Amazon Echo Show 8 launched, we've considered it one of the best Alexa speakers with a display, if not the best one overall. Unlike the towering Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen), the $129 Show 8's more compact build makes it a versatile smart home device. 

The refreshed Echo Show 8 steals some of the new Echo Show 10's key features, including a sharp 13-megapixel camera for video chatting and digital pan-and-zoom for always keeping you in frame. 

Not much else is new in this Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review, but there wasn’t much room for improvement. It’s still the best Alexa smart display for most people, offering all the powers of Amazon’s assistant, plus boosted video chat abilities, in a counter-friendly build. 

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review: Price and availability

The new Amazon Echo Show 8 is available as of June 9, 2021 and costs $129, which is the same price the first Echo Show 8 started at when it debuted. The previous-gen model often went on sale for $99 or less. We're expecting Amazon Prime Day to bring some of the year's best Amazon deals, including discounts on the latest Echo Show 8.

Without sales, the Echo Show 8 is still more affordable than the $249 Echo Show 10, but a bit pricier than the $99 Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) that debuted earlier this year. Not only is Google's newest smart display one of the best smart speakers, it offers neat sleep sensing capabilities, too.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review: Design and display

While the overall look of the 7.9 x 5.4 x 3.9 inch smart display is mostly the same, donning a minimalistic fabric-swathed exterior, the camera arrangement is visibly different. Replacing the first Echo Show 8's subtle 1 megapixel camera, the new model has a 13-MP camera housed in a larger, square component. 

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

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This component features a prominent physical shutter, which is not only satisfying to use but adds a layer of privacy, too. Although I’ve recently come to terms with using an indoor security camera in my home, I appreciate being able to close the shutter at times. There’s also a separate toggle for the microphone, so I can still communicate with Alexa when the camera is disabled.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Of course, I can accomplish a lot without using my voice, since the “show” aspect of the Echo Show 8 acts as a touchscreen tablet. It’s not as an advanced as an Amazon Fire tablet — it’s actually quite simple by comparison — but the interface has most of what you’d want to see at a glance. I noticed the interface is more responsive than on the previous Echo Show 8, too, providing snappier navigation and smoother transitions between various menus.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The display itself can be manually brightened or dimmed, but the Echo Show 8’s ambient light sensors also adjust the brightness and display temperature to suit its surroundings. I find it skews yellow with most overhead lighting, which is soft on the eyes but a little annoying for watching videos, where it seems like everything has a slight sepia filter. The Echo Show 8 overall isn’t ideal for TV shows or movies, though it’s convenient for catching up on Amazon Prime Video content while I’m doing busy work in the kitchen.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review: Camera features

The Amazon Echo Show 8 camera upgrades were designed with the era of video chatting in mind. It upgrades the first Echo Show 8's simple 1-MPcamera with a 13-MP one — that's the same quality of the Echo Show 10's camera. 

The new Echo Show 8 also adopted the digital pan-and-zoom abilities of the Show 10. While the display can't physically rotate to keep you in frame, the new wide-angle lens can center you like the Google Nest Hub Max and the Facebook Portal can. The iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch)'s Center Stage uses a similar tracking technology for video calls.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

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When I tested out the feature using Drop In and video calls, I found the Echo Show 8 mostly succeeded in following my movements. It’s not perfect  — sometimes it kept me on the cusp on the feed or got tripped up with exaggerated arm movements — but it works. I actually like how it doesn’t follow me around the room like the Echo Show 10, too. 

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Amazon's smart displays work with Zoom, Skype and some of the best video chat apps, meaning you can start and answer calls just by asking Alexa. Hands-free video chat is one of the best Alexa skills for keeping in touch with your loved ones. Amazon also added some in-call animations and AR effects to spice up your calls. I’ll admit, I took some silly selfies with them.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review: Sound quality

We thought the original Show 8 sounded great for its size, so we expected similar performance from the new version. The dual 2-inch speakers produce powerful sound, but the fullness depends on which way it’s facing. Your music will sound better if the display is faced away from you, which seems counterintuitive for using the Echo Show’s “show” abilities. Part of the Echo Show 10’s speaker grille faces you at all times, making it better for listening, especially to podcasts.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I think the Echo Show 8 provided ample sound for my kitchen, with Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” thumping over the sound of dishwashing. Again, the crooner’s voice could’ve been crisper, and when I switched to an episode of The Daily from the New York Times I had to turn the volume up to hear Michael Barbaro’s as well as I’d like. Luckily, the Echo Show 8 gets pretty loud.

That said, there are better-sounding smart speakers out there. The Sonos One is our favorite in terms of audio quality, but it costs $199 and doesn’t have a display, so you can’t use it to follow along with recipes, watch other videos or control smart home devices without using your voice. For an Alexa smart display with strongest audio quality, the Echo Show 10 is your best option.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review: Alexa and smart home features

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

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When you're not using it to video chat or control music, the Echo Show 8 can be used for in-home communications. It can also integrate with the best Alexa compatible devices, providing a visual dashboard for your system of smart home products. You can manage your devices individually or assign them to Alexa routines for advanced home automation.

Like Amazon’s other smart speakers (and some Ring devices), the new Echo Show 8 has Amazon Sidewalk built-in. Sidewalk, which is live as of this writing, is a Wi-Fi sharing protocol that will let  devices — such as Tile trackers — connect to the cloud through the Echo Show via a low-power, long range network.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You can ask Alexa to pull  up recipes and launch videos (no built-in YouTube app, though). You can also ask the assistant to set timers, make shopping lists and order stuff for you through Amazon Prime. Check out our guide on how to use Alexa for more common tips and tricks.

Beyond these conveniences, Alexa might be able to give you peace of mind while you’re out,. Alexa Guard turns your Echo smart speakers into security devices, listening for signs of trouble such as glass breaking or your smoke alarm going off. Your Alexa app will then notify you when it hears anything suspicious, which might be faster when you're out of the house.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review: Verdict 

Although the Echo Show 10 might be the best Alexa display we’ve ever tested, it costs $249. For half the price, the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) now has the same camera and Alexa features. Sure, it can’t follow you as you move around the room, but I prefer it that way.

I will say the speaker seems less impressive than it did in the first-generation model, but maybe I’m just disappointed Amazon didn’t beef it up this time around. Beyond the 13-MP camera with auto-framing, there’s little that makes this new version better than the original. Unless you want to improve your video chatting game, there’s no need to upgrade. But for a gift or a first-time Alexa display purchase, you can’t do much better than the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) right now.