Amazon clearly sees huge potential in its Echo Show lineup and a visual experience for Alexa in general. At the end of 2018 it updated the main 10-inch Echo Show. In mid-2019, it launched the Echo Show 5. Subsequently, he announced this model, the Echo Show 8. It sits between the two previous models.
Therefore, the Echo Show 8 is a compromise between the compact Show 5 and the larger second-generation Echo Show. The latter device is great for a reason, due to its display, improved Dolby audio, and Zigbee smart hub (the Echo Show 5 and 8 lack these last two features).
But let’s see everything better in detail!
In the box
Amazon Echo Show 8 comes in a rectangular box with Alexa’s device, charger and a user manual inside.
- Amazon Echo Show 8
- Battery charger
- User manual
Amazon Echo Show 8 has an impressive design. It fits perfectly in your workplace. In the past, the company has introduced the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot with Clock, Echo Show, Echo Show 5 and now Show 8. The range of smart displays is nothing more than a screen added to a speaker equipped with the Alexa voice assistant, along with with video calling and streaming options. Some might say it’s just a larger version of the Show 5 and a smaller version of the Eco Show. However, it has a relatively sharper display with 1,280 × 800 pixels of resolution and a solid two-inch speaker. It comes in the same resolution as the 10-inch Show, which launched last year. It is available in two variants of black and white. Here, the display is sharp while the rear is less robust.
Unlike the Echo Show 5, it comes with a physical camera shutter that keeps user privacy in mind, which can be kept closed when not making a video call.
One of the things that was loved about the Echo Show was its powerful audio, and the Echo Show 8 doesn’t disappoint the side. This model has two 2-inch drivers with 10W per channel, with a passive bass radiator.
The result is almost as good sound on this device as it is on the high-end Echo Show. There’s a bit more distortion at high volumes on this model and the clarity isn’t quite as good, but it really comes close. What the Echo Show 8 has is a lot of presence and enough bass to add that thud and excitement to music or movies.
If you want to go further, you can pair an Echo Sub, although this bass speaker doesn’t currently work with video sources, so it’s only worth adding if you’ll be using the Echo Show 8 primarily for music.
There’s a 3.5mm audio output, although using an external speaker set may not seem like a particularly useful thing.
On paper, the larger Echo Show camera is better than the Echo Show 8 camera. The larger and older model has a 5 megapixel camera while the new model is only 1 megapixel. But on balance we prefer the latter. It doesn’t handle the backlight as well as the Echo Show does, but the videos look more natural and the skin tones are much, much better.
Additionally, the Echo Show 8’s camera has a small slider in front that you can use to lock the lens if you’re worried about hackers turning it on remotely – something you should probably be concerned about, given Amazon’s atrocious track record on the security with some of its other internet-connected cameras.
Again, Amazon’s adaptation of Google Android, called the Fire OS, is used to power the device. It works well and shows information clearly, especially for basic Alexa commands like checking the weather, viewing the latest offers on Amazon, or opening the calendar. But it falls apart with more complex Alexa features, like Skills.
This is because so many Alexa skills remain audio-based. Alexa is still – we would argue – designed to make people talk rather than interact with on screen.
There are so many Alexa skills and even some reasonably simple features (like hearing the radio) that display almost nothing or basic information on the display. They just aren’t ready for visual presentation.
Playback from Spotify (like other Echo devices, this is Spotify Connect compatible) offers a basic on-screen experience, but with Amazon Music you get nice-looking lyrics and wallpapers.
Why is there no Youtube?
Unsurprisingly, it serves all of Amazon’s native services. Access to Prime Video for movies is just a tap away. On top of that, it’s a hub to access all your connected smart home gadgets, if they’ve been set up via the Alexa app.
However, the Amazon-centric approach has limitations. Anyone who wants to play a quick YouTube clip for kids will find the experience reversed. There is no YouTube app, so even if you tell Alexa to play a specific clip on YouTube, the Echo Show 8 will tell you it’s not possible. You can play YouTube videos, but only by visiting the YouTube mobile site on your device.
This is the Echo Show 8’s biggest problem, but it works well with other companies. You can access some of your favorite music streaming services, like Apple Music. And keeping in touch with people has never been easier on a smart display. You can make video calls via your Amazon account or make old-fashioned phone calls via your mobile number.
The Amazon Echo Show 8 strikes the perfect balance between price and size. A bright and clear display and excellent sound make this smart display a perfect all-rounder. You’re missing out on the larger display Zigbee hub, but realistically this is a feature most people won’t miss.
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