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More than just a pretty screen

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amazon echo show 8 on a white background

Amazon was first to the smart speaker game back in 2014 with the Amazon Echo, a tiny speaker with poor audio quality and no display whatsoever. The e-commerce giant has come a long way, though, rolling out a wide range of smart speakers and smart displays that keep Amazon firmly in the discussion as a smart home hardware provider. The brand-new, third-generation Echo Show 8 solidifies that status even further, providing a comprehensive interface and stellar sound quality.


The price tag may be a bit intimidating, but beyond that, I earnestly had trouble coming up with any other downsides for the Echo Show 8. The camera has been moved to the center in this new iteration, Alexa remains a more than competent virtual assistant, and seriously, the sound quality is so good thanks to some new advanced features, your room will be filled with well-balanced sound, no matter where you put it. All that to say, if you’re looking for a good Alexa-powered smart display, this is one I have no problem recommending.

More than just a pretty screen
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen, 2023)

Editor’s choice

The Echo Show 8 for 2023 is a tad more expensive, but adds more features, better audio, and a more responsive virtual assistant, making the bump more than worth it.

Colors
Charcoal

Connectivity
Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth LE, Matter, Thread, Zigbee, Sidewalk

Price
$150

Dimensions
200mm x 139mm x 106mm

Weight
1034 grams

Camera
13MP

Integrations
Alexa

Resolution
1280 x 800 pixels

Speakers
2×2.0-inch neodymium stereo speakers with passive bass radiator

Microphone
Four far-field microphones

Microphone switch
Yes

Power source
30W power adapter (included)

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Responsive virtual assistant
  • Comprehensive, adaptive interface
  • Good camera placement (finally)
Cons

  • Big bezels
  • A bit expensive
  • No motion features

Price & availability

No point in looking anywhere but Amazon

As you can likely imagine, the Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) is available on Amazon for $150. You’ll be able to opt for one of two colors, Charcoal and Glacier, which are, of course, just fancy names for black and white.

Because the Echo Show 8 is freshly released, no deals have been spotted yet to get a discount. However, if you’re looking to save a bit, the release has prompted the Echo Show 8 (2nd gen) to be discounted substantially, so you can always go that route if the price is too intimidating.

Design, hardware, what’s in the box

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

The screensaver on the Amazon Echo Show 8

The Echo Show 8 doesn’t look that much different than its predecessor, or most smart displays in this price range for that matter. The 8-inch HD touch screen with 1280 x 800 resolution is slightly bigger than its Google counterpart, the Google Nest Hub, which comes with its own 7-inch HD touch screen as well.

However, the bezels on the Echo Show 8 are notably bigger, coming in at a full half-inch on all four sides. Admittedly, this isn’t as big a deal on smart displays as it is on smartphones, but still, it’s a noticeable difference, even if only when you take it out of the box. Plus, the bezels are big enough to reasonably house the built-in camera, so you can’t get that mad.

You’ll find all the buttons on the top of the device, which is definitely a pleasant departure from the volume buttons on the back of the Google Nest Hub. You’ll find two volume buttons, the privacy shutter for the built-in camera, and the mute button for the microphone, which is really all you need for a smart display that is powered by your voice. Beyond that, there’s the power input in the middle of the speaker on the back of the Echo Show 8.

The top of the Amazon Echo Show 8

Speaking of the speaker, it’s a big guy. The physical size adds nearly a half inch to the depth of the third generation Echo Show 8 compared to the second generation, making it nearly double the depth of the Google Nest Hub. Still, the depth is only 4.2 inches, so you’ll have plenty of room to fit it on even the narrowest of shelves in your home. Additionally, the second generation speaker was flush against the smart display, whereas the third generation has a bit of a lip between the two of them, a small but clear difference between the two smart displays.

As a smart home hub, the Echo Show 8 supports Zigbee, Thread, and Matter smart home protocols and has dual-band Wi-Fi that supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks. As for what’s in the box, you’ll obviously get the Echo Show 8 smart display, along with the 4.9-foot Glacier White power adapter (30W) and quick start guide.

Camera

Better placement, same quality

The privacy shutter on the Amazon Echo Show 8

Unlike the Google Nest Hub, the Echo Show 8 is equipped with a built-in camera for video chats. Before we get into the quality and functionality of the camera, let’s put the minds of privacy enthusiasts at ease; yes, the Echo Show 8 camera has a privacy shutter to completely disable the camera from tracking you when you don’t want it to.

Now, for starters, the camera placement is a big shift and general improvement from the second generation Echo Show 8. The second generation confusingly had the camera built into the top right corner of the smart display, whereas the third generation Echo Show 8 now has it comfortably in the top-middle of the device. You know, like how every camera-equipped device does.

Beyond that, the 13 MP camera is also equipped with auto-framing technology that quite effectively keeps the subject in frame without much effort. During a video chat (with myself), I explored the absolute limits of the Echo Show 8 auto-framing camera and was pleasantly surprised, as I had to be pretty far out of frame for it to not find me. Even when stepping further back into my living room, the camera zoomed in to keep that close-up look you want in a video chat. Obviously, the zoom came with a bit of grain to the video quality, but hey, no one is perfect.

Audio

Spatial audio makes for full, balanced sound

A side view of the speaker on the Amazon Echo Show 8

This is where the Echo Show 8 really feels like a modern iteration of smart speaker technology. Almost immediately upon first listen, the audio quality is impressively noticeable, filling our considerably large living room/kitchen area with full-bodied sound that feels like you’re wearing over-ear headphones. At max volume, it’s understandably too loud unless you’re using it at a park next to an airport runway.

As for the specifics of what the Echo Show 8 is packing, you’ll be getting two 2.0-inch neodymium stereo speakers with passive bass radiator, which isn’t super impressive as far as specs are concerned. However, the excellent audio likely comes from the new spatial audio and room acoustic sensing functionality, which takes into account the setup of your home as well as the Echo Show 8’s placement within it.

A back view of the Amazon Echo Show 8

Compared to the smart speaker we had on the shelf previously, the second-generation Google Nest Hub, it seems like the spatial audio is actually quite impactful, improving the sound substantially while being in the exact same location. Overall, the audio quality is one of the best parts of the Echo Show 8, making it a must-buy for anyone looking for a smart display that doesn’t skimp on sound.

Software & features

A responsive, customizable experience

The Home screen of the Amazon Echo Show 8

As someone that uses the Google Nest Hub at home, the software of the Echo Show 8 really impressed on the first use. From responding to voice commands to opening apps, this smart display clearly has an improved processor, handling virtually any and every action with speed and accuracy. Even the voice command to “see the Office” had a video feed of my workspace on the display in under three seconds.

Setup is quite easy, provided you know your Amazon username and password off the top of your head. The HD touch screen is decidedly responsive, which seems like it would be standard practice in the modern era, but if you’ve tried to use other smart displays, you know this is far from a given. The interface is easy to use, providing easy access to notifications, music, smart home control, and of course, shopping on the home page.

You can also pick and choose widgets in the widget gallery for everything from weather to meditation exercises. If you have a notification, you’ll see a big yellow line across the bottom of your screen, which does get in the way a bit, but I suppose that’s the point of notifications. You’ll also see a small yellow bubble on the notification icon, but you’ll definitely notice the big yellow first.

The Echo Show 8 is sporting a new adaptive feature as well that changes what it shows you on the display depending on how far away you are from the device. If you’re far away, you’ll see basic information in large font, like the time and the weather. However, if you’re nearby, it’ll show more specific content, like music suggestions and recipe ideas in smaller font, assuming you can read it from that distance. In this reviewer’s testing, the screen typically changed when I was around 5-6 feet away, and it was pretty consistent about it.

The biggest ding against the Echo Show 8 software and really all Amazon smart displays when compared to Google is the photo problem. Google Photos is simply a more commonly used option, and its seamless integration with Google smart displays for home screen backgrounds automatically puts them a class above for many users when it comes to customization. The Echo Show 8, meanwhile, pulls personal photos from the less popular Amazon Photos app. Of course, if you’re already an Amazon Photos user, this could be your moment to shine.

Competition

Alexa or Google Assistant, it’s up to you

DSC05321

As far as smart speakers go, there’s obviously plenty of competition out there, but smart displays are in much shorter supply. Amazon has a few entries in the space, including the Echo Show 10 with its high-powered audio and swiveling screen and the Echo Show 15 with its massive screen and comprehensive interface. They’re both over $200, though, which might be more than you’re willing to shell out for a smart display.

If you’re looking for a cheaper option, the Google Nest Hub is an obvious choice, particularly if you’re more of an “OK Google” household than an “Alexa” household. It’s definitely a bit more outdated and the sound isn’t nearly as good, but the thin bezels and lower price tag could be enough to make you ditch Alexa.

Should you buy it?

A great buy, especially for the audio quality

A side angle shot of the Amazon Echo Show 8 home screen

If you’re in the market for a smart display with excellent sound quality, the Echo Show 8 is absolutely where you should start your search. While the $150 price tag is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum for smart speakers, you’re getting more than you pay for with this audio quality. Plus, the interface is responsive enough that it can work well without your voice, something not entirely common with smart displays today.

In earnest, we found it hard to come up with any cons for the Echo Show 8 beyond the price tag and the slightly large bezels. The lack of motion features is far from a dealbreaker, and the quality of the device is apparent almost immediately. Suffice to say, we can comfortably recommend the Echo Show 8 to anyone looking for this kind of tech.

amazon echo show 8 on a white background

More than just a pretty screen
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen, 2023)

Editor’s choice

The Echo Show 8 for 2023 is a tad more expensive, but adds more features, better audio, and a more responsive virtual assistant, making the bump more than worth it.

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