Jul 3rd, 2021

Smart speakers are cool and all, but smart displays are pretty much the perfect addition to any home or office. Amazon and Google are leading the way with their smart displays, while Lenovo has a tendency of releasing some Assistant-powered options every once in a blue moon.

Amazon Echo Show 8 Specs

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)
Price $130
Display 8-inches
Resolution 1280 x 800
Processor MediaTek MT 8183
Front Camera 13MP w/ auto-framing
Speakers 2 x 2-inches @ 10W
Privacy Controls Built-in Camera Shutter / Microphone Mute
Dimensions 7.9 x 5.4 x 3.9-inches
Colors Charcoal / Glacier White

Amazon Echo Show 8 Review: Design

While the Amazon Echo Show 10 turned heads with its ability to follow you around, the updated Echo Show 8 doesn’t look very updated at all. It features practically the same design as the last iteration, but how does this smart speaker stack up?

As the name implies, the Echo Show 8 features an 8-inch display with an “okay” 1280 x 800 resolution. There’s a single 13MP camera in the top right corner, which helps explain why this new smart speaker has bezels reminiscent of 2015 devices.

On the top, you’ll find three buttons, two for controlling the volume, and a third for turning off the microphones. Speaking of which, there are two microphones places atop the Echo Show 8, one of each in between the three buttons. And right above the camera on the right side is the physical camera shutter switch, as Amazon opted for a physical switch instead of doing what it did for the microphone.

Moving to the back, you have the proprietary AC adapter which attaches to a ridiculously long eight-foot power cable. Then, there’s also a little microUSB port if you ever need to plug something into the Echo Show itself.

Considering this is practically an identical product to the first-generation Echo Show 8, the build materials are the same. Plastic surrounds the display, running along the buttons on the top and along the bottom. The back of the Echo Show features a fabric covering, which matches up with other Amazon smart speakers for a uniform design aesthetic. Then on the bottom, you’ll find the boring regulatory information, but the bottom is made from a rubber-like material to keep the Echo Show from moving around.

Amazon Echo Show 8 Review: Display, and Sound Quality

One of the key features of using one of these smart displays is to set it up as a digital picture frame. If you sync your photos to Amazon Photos, then you can set specific images to rotate through. Of course, you won’t get the best picture quality in the world, but that’s not the point. Being able to glance over and see a family photo from a few years ago is a nice touch. If you don’t set up your gallery to scroll through, you’ll be presented with Trending Topics, or some Popular Recipes, along with seeing the date and weather information.

Even if your Echo Show 8 is placed across the room, you’ll be able to easily see the time at the very least. This is a nice touch as even on our Google Home, it can be a bit too small to glance at.

If you leave those Trending Topics or Recipes viewable on the Echo Show, you’ll be greeted with a little “play” button. Tapping that will take you through the video, where you’ll immediately be able to catch up on a specific news piece, or will be taken to a walk-through of a recipe.

But as you might expect, you can also use the Echo Show 8 as a standard smart speaker. Fire up some Amazon Music or link your Spotify account to Alexa and play your favorite playlists.

Albeit a little bass-heavy, the Echo Show 8 can help you rock out while you’re either getting some work done or cleaning up around the house. Pair it up with other Echo speakers in your home, and get the whole group moving around. But if you are using the Echo Show 8 on your desk as I have been, be prepared to feel the bass.

A few times, the Echo Show 8 made my arms actually vibrate while typing away. It got to the point where I had to turn the volume down, even though it was only at 50%. Thankfully, you have plenty of options to adjust the volume with the touch-screen controls by swiping down, turning the music down from the source, or just tapping the buttons on the top of the Echo Show.

Amazon Echo Show 8 Review: Features, Performance, and Camera

When you start actually trying to use the Echo Show 8, and you’re coming from the last iteration, you might notice a bit more snappiness. That’s thanks to the updated processor being used, as Amazon is trying to keep up with the likes of Google and the software from the Nest Hub.

However, once you start trying to use the touch-screen display, you’ll find that Amazon isn’t quite there just yet. The interface isn’t all that intuitive, and if you’ve never used an Echo Show before, you might be tapping and swiping in all the wrong places. A swipe down reveals the quick bar where you can adjust the brightness, go Home, head into Settings, or enable Do Not Disturb.

Meanwhile, swiping in from the right opens up a world of categories where you can dive in and start messing around with the capabilities. However, it’s extremely clear that Amazon wants you to use Alexa to control the Echo Show and not your finger. The touchscreen is more of an afterthought, and while it’s not terrible, it’s not the greatest.

Another issue that I still have with an Amazon device with a display is the lack of a proper YouTube app. Sure, you can stream videos from Prime Video, Netflix, or Hulu. But in order to catch up on some YouTube videos, you have to go to the Amazon Silk Browser, which just is not a very good experience. All this does is provide access to the mobile version of the website, instead of an interface designed and fine-tuned for an Echo Show. But until Google and Amazon can play nice, I guess this is what we’re going to be left with.

So what about that 13MP camera? Well, it’s pretty good if you don’t mind having your complexion smoothed over. Seriously, it feels like I’m trying to make a video call with an Oppo or Samsung device, but beggars can’t be choosers. Honestly, we’re just happy that Amazon opted to put in the same 13MP sensor that is found in the company’s flagship Echo Show 10.

There are some extra features available too, like being able to view the video feed from a security camera, but living in an apartment complex doesn’t afford me the ability to try that out. The real power of the Echo Show (and any Alexa device) is in the enormous library of Amazon Alexa Skills. Just going through the list of options and you’ll likely find some rather useful ones, along with some that can turn game night into an unforgettable one.

Amazon Echo Show 8 Review: Should you buy it?

While I have my qualms about being unable to use a built-in YouTube app and being relegated to the mobile browser version, the Echo Show 8 is still fantastic. If you are looking for a smart display but don’t want the entry-level version in the Echo Show 5, then the Echo Show 8 is the way to go.

The 8-inch display is clear enough for you to be able to create a digital photo frame for your desk or a side table. And Amazon’s Alexa Skills can really unlock the power of what this smart display is capable of, as is the case for all of Amazon’s smart devices.

And even if you don’t have a speaker group to add this to, you might end up picking up an Echo Dot or two to put in your main living area. Doing so will allow you to pump up the tunes while you get some cleaning done, or just provide a solid source of music for that next party you’re planning to throw.

Amazon’s Echo Show 8 comes in two different colors (Glacier White / Charcoal), and is available today for $129.99.

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