In the last few years, Amazon has shifted nicely into the visual space, thanks to its Echo Show line-up. While Alexa has proven to be a decent audio controller, adding to it a screen really opens up what can be done.
Amazon hasn’t significantly changed the Echo Show 8 for the second gen. Unlike the Echo Show 10, there is no motorized base but the tweaks it has made to the device are decent - and more in keeping with a world where video calling has now become the norm.
We’ve been using the Amazon Echo 8 for a while now - here are 5 things to know…
1 The wedge design works well in any room
Amazon radically changed the design of the Echo Show 10, giving it a motorized base which allowed the screen to turn in your direction when walking around a room. Amazon has opted not to shift the Echo 8’s design in this way and we think it’s the right thing to do. Although we are fans of the moving Echo Show 10, it really needs a big screen to work.
The Echo Show 8 is better suited to its wedge design. If you already have an Echo Show 8 then from the outside, nothing has really changed. It’s the same display, design and speaker inside. The big difference, though, is a more powerful processor and camera on board. While the first-gen had a mere 1MP, it has been substantially supercharged with the same 13MP camera that is found on the Echo Show 10.
2 The Echo Show 8 is great for video calls
While it may not have the motorised base unit, the Echo Show 8 does manage to follow you, thanks to some decent pan and scan auto-framing tech, which takes advantage of the newly installed 13MP camera. Amazon may want you to use this video calling for other Amazon devices, but the good news for those who have had to live with Zoom, you can do your meetings through the device, as well as other services such as Skype.
We liked the auto-framing but it is a touch on the slow side, so you may want to turn it off - which you can do by asking Alexa nicely.
3 The Echo Show 8 is faster, more responsive
Like we mentioned, the Echo Show 8 hasn’t had a physical makeover but under the hood there is a faster processor and it is noticeable.
Flipping between apps and services was far more fluid than before. You can now adjust colour through the Show 8, rather than just brightness, which is a nice touch.
4 The UI is clean but you will still use your voice
When it comes to the OS, Amazon really has tidied up its UI. We did find ourselves reverting back to just asking Alexa to do things on the Echo Show 8, but when you do swipe through it’s all pretty seamless.
It’s great to see things like the hub for all your Amazon devices in the Smart Home section, as well as all the video options in one place - occasionally we got lost in the myriad menus but a swipe to the left means you can just start again.
5 Sound is decent, video needs more options
There’s no change in the Amazon Echo 8’s speaker setup and that’s fine by us, It sounded loud enough for most rooms, with music given room to breathe. Given that if you were watching movies and shows on the thing you need to be pretty close to the screen there are no issues there, either. A minor gripe is that the 3.5mm jack seems to have disappeared so there is now no way to hook it up to a bigger speaker system.
Video wise, it’s good to see Netflix and Disney Plus alongside Prime Video. We would love to have the likes of BBC iPlayer and other catch-up services on the device, though. Until that happens, it’s not quite the fully fledged media device it wants / we want it to be.
Amazon Echo Show 8: Final Verdict
The Amazon Echo Show 8 is the perfect size for most rooms. It’s a fantastic device for those who have bought into Amazon’s Echo eco-system.
Having one fixed, visual place in the house where you can control your lighting, check up on your Ring Doorbell and take video calls really does help with controlling your smart hone - and it means you cut down on your smartphone use, too, which is a bonus.