Amazon, with their Echo range, have stood at the forefront of smart home assistance for some time. They were one of the first to market, they offer their products at a fantastic price, and thanks to the wide range of options, they satisfy buyers in most situations and settings. The Echo Show range has remained an excellent product series, and now with the latest update, Echo Show 8 is an even more compelling option, and a fantastic value.
“Echo Show 8 is an even more compelling option, and a fantastic value.”
At first glance, the Echo Show 8 seems very similar to the first generation of the device with the same 8-inch screen, 1280×800 resolution, fabric back and wedge-shaped box. But despite that deceiving shell, there is quite a bit to be excited about with the 2021 iteration of the Echo Show 8. Improving the camera, the performance, and the overall sound quality on the device, Amazon has taken the needed steps to improve their mid-range display offering, even if it does not get quite as much attention as their latest Echo Show 10 managed this year.
The most major improvement for 2021 is the new 13-megapixel camera on the display. This brings with it a range of potential, considering it replaces the incredibly low 1MP camera on the past Echo Show 8. Video calls can finally be in HD, giving families better opportunities to connect with real clarity.
“You can have a more natural virtual visit with loved ones, even if you are chasing down kids while talking to the grandparents.”
But perhaps the most exciting addition to the new offering is a feature borrowed from the Echo Show 10 – a camera that pans and zooms on video calls when you move so you’re always in shot. For families this is invaluable, you can have a more natural virtual visit with loved ones, even if you are chasing down kids while talking to the grandparents. One thing every parent knows is that kids don’t sit still. Thankfully, Amazon has solved the problem, so you can spend more time chatting and less time staying in frame.
While the new visual fidelity in the camera is a great addition, and a worthy upgrade on its own, Amazon also gave the rest of the Echo Show 8 some attention, improving the overall performance and sound quality people can expect when they use the device. Amazon has upgraded the processor of the device, moving away from the MediaTek MT 8163 in the current Echo Show 8, and replacing it with the newer and more powerful MediaTek MT 8183.
Even though the Echo OS is simple and designed to be fast even on low power devices, it was noticeably faster, and smoother. While not game changing, it stands as a good iteration that increases the cores on offer from 4 to 8 and delivers a much faster 2GHz CPU (compared to 1.5GHz on the current Echo Show 8).
Thankfully if you are safety conscious, the Echo Show 8 also brings with it a handy slider to block your camera when not in use, and Alexa Guard that can be used as a security system. While it is not nearly as robust as you would find with a Ring device or the Ecobee camera, it will detect the sound of a smoke alarm or breaking glass to give a degree of protection and peace of mind while sleeping or away from home. Since this is Amazon, there is an upsell option, but this is not needed for the basic use of the feature.
“The Echo Show 8 is serviceable and offers enough for most people’s podcast or video call needs.”
Much like past iterations, the Echo Show 8 comes with Dual 2-inch speakers and offers a passive bass radiator. The sound feels solid and crisp at low volumes but can sound a little muddy at higher levels. While I loved the audio quality on the Echo Show 10, the Echo Show 8 is serviceable and offers enough for most people’s podcast or video call needs. While it works while cooking or relaxing on the couch, if you want to enjoy some clear music, you may want to invest in something a bit more substantial.
As with all past Echo Show devices, the 8 packs all the power of Alexa and is only ever a key phrase away. Alexa has managed to mature over the years, bringing with it a range of smart devices it now works with and feels much more responsive overall compared to when it first launched.
Media has been improved with this outing, giving the option to have Closed Captions on streaming services including Prime Video and Netflix, making it a great kitchen display for catching up on shows while you meal-prep for the week. The 8-inch screen is not ideal for binge-watching but gives enough viewing area to keep you company while working away on dinner.
Amazon has made the right upgrades to make the Echo Show 8 competitive even with a crowded smart display market. Alexa remains as one of the best smart assistants you can use, and with the compatible device list only growing, it is a great center to any smart home.
While it can be a toss-up for many if the Nest Hub or the Echo Show range are for them, the new camera on such a cost-effective unit makes the Echo Show 8 an ideal option for anyone looking to chat with friends and family that are at a distance. The Echo Range keeps improving, and with the Echo Show 8, Amazon has made the right choices to win this critics’ recommendation.