Amazon Echo Show 8 review: The best Alexa smart display, period

It’s 2020 and the Echo Show 8 turns one year old. But Amazon’s fourth Alexa-enabled smart display still stands out from the competition as one of the best smart devices around. Squeezed between his own 10 inches high-end is budget 5 inches brothers, the Show 8 offers the right mix of features and design advantages to justify its existence as a middle child – and is the best direct competitor for Google Nest Hub. Even a year after its release, the Echo Show 8 still deserves its Editors’ Choice Award.

Contents

Like it

  • Echo Show 8 has solid sound quality and good screen resolution.
  • The $ 130 price tag makes the Show 8 one of the best mid-range smart displays on the market.
  • The physical camera shutter is a clever little addition to soothe privacy concerns.

I do not like

  • The interface isn’t as smooth or easy to use as the one on Google’s Nest Hub.
  • You can’t bring up YouTube videos by voice.

If you are considering buying a smart display for your countertop, the Show 8 may be the best product for the price. Its full price of $ 130 is a solid bargain, but frequent discounts (the current price in the US is just $ 65; in the UK its £ 120 price is currently discounted at £ 90) make it even more attractive. .

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Chris Monroe / CNET

In tune with the crowd

Last year, Amazon completed its smart speakers and display product lines with nearly half a dozen new devices, including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot with clock, Echo Studio, Echo Show 5 and Show 8. There is a clear pattern: Each product line has a Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Teddy Bear option. Amazon hopes one of these devices is right for you. In 2020, that model remained largely intact, although the Echo is Point both received a sphere-shaped redesign – and a redux for the 10-inch Echo Show is on the horizon.

Echo’s line of smart displays doesn’t just add dumb screens to smart speakers. These devices equip the Alexa voice assistant video chat and streaming, they work with Ring the bells is Wyze Cams to show you what’s going on at your front door, they can provide kitchen assistance (read more on Amazon’s partnership with Food Network to bring professional chef lessons to your kitchen) and also offer touch controls for the smart home. For $ 130 (£ 120) or less, the Echo Show 8 really packs a lot of useful intelligence.

Third thought, better thought

Critics may argue that the Echo Show 8 brings no new features to the countertop. True, but as with Amazon’s best recent products, the Show 8 isn’t so much about big innovations as it is about intelligent iterations.

The Show 8 carries more weight than the Show 5 (which is $ 40 cheaper): a larger screen than a propped phone, a fairly sharp resolution of 1,280×800 pixels, and a pair of solid 2-inch speakers. Additionally, the Show 8 steals the best ideas from the Show 5, such as the physical camera shutter and sunrise alarms (although for some reason Amazon hasn’t included the 5’s tap-to-snooze feature).

I particularly like the shutter speed. The second generation Echo Show ($ 150 on Amazon) it has no design feature to disconnect the camera. While Google has opted for a kill switch for the camera and microphone on the Nest Hub Max ($ 229 at Sam’s Club), Amazon has included a physical shutter on its latest two displays. From a privacy standpoint, I’m a fan of Amazon not just saying, “Trust me, that’s fine”. I can watch Show 8, see that the shutter is closed and be 100% certain that I am not being observed.

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Chris Monroe / CNET

Another clever touch is that the screen, while having the same resolution as the 2018 10-inch Show, uses a new feature to improve image quality on that larger display. While images won’t appear sharper (other than the number of pixels on the smaller display), progressive scan means fewer visual artifacts will appear on the screen. It’s an addition that few casual users will notice on a day-to-day basis, but it’s a useful quality of life upgrade that you’ll feel over time.

Talk to myself

While the Show 8 is a clear upgrade over its predecessors, it doesn’t seem to live up to a large area – the camera is only 1 megapixel, unlike the second-generation Show’s 5-megapixel camera. Lower megapixel cameras generally produce blurry results, and honestly, I was surprised when I heard that specification.

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Chris Monroe / CNET

But when I tested the video with myself using the second generation Show and the Show 8, the 5 megapixel camera feed actually looked more pixelated than that captured by the lower quality camera. Whatever the reason, the lower quality camera, in this case, produced consistently higher quality results for me.

The bottom line is this: the extra $ 100 for the Echo Show won’t necessarily translate into higher video chat image quality, so the 1-megapixel camera shouldn’t dissuade you from opting for the cheaper Show 8 instead. .

Keep an ear to the counter

When it comes to the sound quality on the Echo Show 8, you might be pleasantly surprised. The two 2-inch speakers are a bit smaller than the 2.2-inch speakers in the 10-inch Show, and you can hear the slight difference in sound quality, especially at higher volumes. When you push it, the Show 8 starts to sound a little buzzing and lacks the reach and distinction of the Echo standalone speaker or the 10-inch Echo Show.

But the Echo Show 8’s sound quality is much better than that of the smaller Show 5, which has a single 1.7-inch speaker. In fact, paired with the latest Amazon Echo smart speaker, the Show 8 produces somewhat similar results as long as the volume stays in the middle of its range.

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Chris Monroe / CNET

Alexa and the screen

Despite not having the second-generation Show’s Zigbee receiver or the Show 5’s tap-to-snooze function, the Show 8 may be the best Alexa-enabled smart display. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best display ever. While I like the combination of smart features and, more importantly, the price tag associated with them, Google’s smart displays boast a better user experience.

It is difficult to compare the Show 8 directly with the Nest Hub – Google’s $ 90 7-inch display, why not even that to have a camera. And the Nest Hub Max, which does include a high-quality camera, it costs $ 230. But one thing both Nest Hubs share is a smoother interface than Echo Show 8. Screen is more responsive, camera can follow your face if you walk around chatting videos and you can access YouTube videos with a simple voice command.

Amazon’s operating system is improving, but it’s still lagging behind Google’s – a jarring experience if you’re used to the responsiveness of modern smartphones and tablets.

Also, with another Echo Show coming up, this time a 10-inch display that will physically flip to follow you around the room, some users may want to hold on to Show 8. But the Show 10 will likely watch at a completely different price level , so if you’re looking for cheaper displays, you can’t go wrong with the Show 8. If you’re looking for a more premium machine, you might want to wait for the Show 10.

Aside from these minor qualifiers, I’m happy to recommend the Show 8. For $ 130 (or as little as $ 65), it’s the smartest Amazon display for the price. It combines the best of the rest and has a better camera and sound quality than the Nest Hub.