I received the new Echo Show 8 as a gift this past weekend and like it for most of the same reasons I like the Echo Show 5: great connectivity; good diversity of content and skills; and great as a sound speaker and photo display.
In just 2 short years, Amazon’s smart display bench has widened from the original Echo Show to a stable of 3 units with varying price-points and screen sizes.
The latest addition to the family is Echo Show 8, but is it any good?
In a word, “Yes.”
You’ll get the same bass driver and pair of 2-inch speakers as you find on Echo Show.
The screen comes close to the same size measuring 8 inches across.
Echo Show 8 is priced more in line with the much smaller Echo Show 5.
All of which makes the all-new 8-incher arguably your best choice for a smart display in 2020.
We’ll highlight the chief benefits and drawbacks first so you can see at a glance if this compact smart display makes sense for you…
What We Like
- 8-inch HD screen is large enough to watch music videos and short video clips but compact enough that you can pop this smart display anywhere
- Use Alexa, your onboard digital assistant, for full hands-free control of your smart home
- Alexa works well for entertainment, too. Enjoy using voice commands to flash up your favorite media and then watch it on the small screen
- Packs the same speaker components as the larger Echo Show so you’ll enjoy a robust soundscape
- Great tool for video calls and messages
- Serves as a digital photo frame when you’re not watching YouTube or controlling your smart home tech
- Drop-In functionality allows you to use Echo Show 8 as a two-way intercom so you can communicate between devices in your household
- Optional FreeTime Unlimited makes Echo Show 8 kid-friendly for a very reasonable monthly fee
- Set up couldn’t be easier and you’ll be up and running almost straight out the box
- New layers of privacy with physical camera shutter and the option of electronically disconnecting the mics
What We Don’t Like
- You can’t access Netflix so bear this in mind before committing to purchase
- Recipe functions leave something to be desired
- This smart display works best within Amazon’s ecosystem so make sure this is the right fit for you
Price and Overall Value
We’ll lead off by touching briefly on the commendable price/performance ratio of Echo Show 8.
While you’re getting a powerful smart display with impressive audio and a screen large enough for a few music videos or movie previews, Echo Show 8 sits between the Echo Show and Echo Show 5 price-wise.
This smart display gives you a great deal of functionality delivering a solid music device, a serviceable screen, and hands-free smart home control. The value of Echo Show 8 can’t be denied.
How does it look, though?
Design and Build
Echo Show 8 is like a beefed-up Echo Show 5 and, to be frank, it’s nothing much to look at.
Plastic with a colored fabric speaker covering, it’s what inside that counts with this smart display. Amazon’s prime focus remains on getting products to market not prettifying the boxes they come in.
The 8-inch screen comes surrounded by a bezel that gives Echo Show 8 a chunky and somewhat dated aesthetic.
One design issue that becomes apparent is the lack of vibration isolation. In plain English, crank up the volume with Echo Show 8 on a flimsy desk and you’ll find it causing a lot of vibration.
How can you get around this? Well, we’d advise considering one of the optional stands so you introduce some clearance and sidestep the excessive vibration.
Build quality overall is solid and we’d project Echo Show 8 will stay the distance.
How about that all-important screen?
Measuring 8 inches across, you get a 1280 x 800 LCD with the same resolution as Echo Show. Since the display is smaller, picture quality is correspondingly sharper on the baby device.
If you’re not planning to do any lengthy viewing, the screen is more than fit for purpose. YouTube videos are much more enjoyable on Echo Show 8 than a smart phone. Weather reports and news clips also work well.
The size of this smart display means many people like it in the kitchen or the bedroom. While this device is often sold on the strength of the help you get with recipes, this is an area we’d like to see improved. That said, the potential is there and Alexa’s skills are climbing ever closer to that 100,000 number.
The ambient sensor means Echo Show 8 could also serve as a bedside alarm clock. The screen dim almost completely overnight so you won’t be distracted and you can start your day with Alexa within reach.
So far, so good. How about the area where most smart speakers fall down?
Echo Show 8 packs the same speakers you’ll find on the larger original model. Aside from the issue with vibration we mentioned above, you won’t be disappointed with the audio.
Bass is punchy without any muddiness. Mid-range and higher frequencies are well-represented, too.
You’ll get stronger and louder sound than Echo Show 5 provides. Set-up includes a pair of 2-inch drivers and a passive radiator. This is the tried-and-true configuration used in Bluetooth speakers so you’re in safe hands.
While you’re obviously not buying Echo Show 8 expecting to replace your whole-house audio with it, for its intended purpose it delivers fully.
Performance and Features
The primary benefit of Echo Show 8 is the hands-free control of your smart home it provides. With Alexa onboard, you’ll be able to streamline workaday routines in your home.
Entertainment is best within Amazon’s ecosystem. Prime Video and Amazon Music leave you spoiled for choice while Spotify is another solid option.
You’ll struggle with YouTube on Echo Show 8, so you might want to rethink this device if you’re a heavy user of that platform.
Netflix is also off-limits. In defense of that, we’d say it’s highly unlikely you’d be planning to watch a full-length movie on an 8-inch screen so it’s not as inconvenient as snags with YouTube. You’ll be able to access it using a browser but the experience is not seamless.
With smart home control, music and video entertainment at your fingertips, what else does this compact but powerful smart display offer?
Camera and Video Chat
Keep your expectations reasonable with video calling. The 1-megapixel camera is a far cry from the 13-megapixel beauty you’ll find on Facebook Portal.
If you’re realistic about quality, the 720p video does it job. You’ll be able to call other Echo smart displays or the Alexa app.
The Drop-In function lets you use Echo Show 8 like an intercom. This is a nice touch when it’s time to call the kids down for dinner.
Bottom line, then…
Should you buy Echo Show 8?
Here at Pick My Reader, we’re genuinely impressed with this all-new Echo Show 8. The screen is the ideal combination of size and compact form while audio is robust. Throw in the inimitable Alexa and it’s scarcely believable that Amazon can sell this smart display so cheaply.
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See you soon and why not treat yourself to an Echo Show 8 for Christmas?