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Is The 2nd Generation Of The Echo Show 8 Worth The Upgrade?
I don’t know how they keep doing it, but Amazon is great at finding small gaps in the market for new smart gadgets, and one of the latest things we didn't know we needed is the Echo Show.
Available as 5, 8, and 10-inch models, they’re designed to augment our home smart systems with the only thing they’re still missing...screens.
Having been intrigued by these smart displays for a while now, I decided to put the recently released 8” Echo Show middle child through its paces.
Echo Show 8 At A Glance
Sitting in between its 5 and 10-inch siblings, the Echo Show 8 offers a happy middle ground in terms of both price and screen real estate.
For the uninitiated, the Echo Show essentially just gives Alexa a screen to play with, so instead of just telling you the news and playing you your favorite tunes, Amazon’s charming AI can now show you images, websites, videos, movies...you name it.
- 13-Megapixel Camera
- Great Price
- Partly Made From Recycled Materials
- Neutral Photo Frame Design
- Full Alexa Support
- No Aux Output
- So-So Audio and Display
- No ZigBee Support
Echo Show 8 - Features
The show-stealer of the new Echo Show 8 is undeniably the 13-megapixel camera. Now, I’m fully aware that doesn’t sound all that great considering next year’s iPhones are pegged to come loaded with a 48-megapixel camera, but considering the gen 1 had a measly 1-megapixel camera, it’s a huge improvement.
The extra resolution makes video calling so much easier, especially if you like to get comfy on the couch at a distance with the whole family in the shot. Everything’s just a lot clearer, which is a huge feather in the gen 2’s cap.
Another significant upgrade to mention is the MediaTek MT8183 octa-core processor in the heart of the Echo Show 8 gen 2. If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is, but luckily, all we non-techy peeps need to know is that it’s slightly more responsive and loads media a lot faster than its predecessor.
Unfortunately, the four-way microphones remain unchanged from the gen 1 Echo Show, but they work well enough, so I’ll let it slide. You rarely have to repeat yourself to Alexa, even if there’s music playing. However, the thing I can’t let slide is the lackluster speakers.
The dual 2” drivers may have been slightly enhanced since the 1st gen Show 8, but it’s hard to tell. It still sounds a little tinny to my ear, which isn’t what you want from a device released in 2021.
It’s as if Amazon has focused on boosting the mid-range at the expense of the treble and bass response, which works out well for conversing with clarity, but for music, it just doesn’t cut it. They’ve also removed the AUX port, so you can’t hook it up to a better sound system, which seems like a huge design flaw — c’mon, Amazon.
The 1280 x 800 resolution certainly isn’t going to blow your mind either, but it’s sufficient for small applications like cooking tutorials or the odd Paw Patrol clip on YouTube for your little ones.
And speaking of YouTube, the Echo Show 8 still doesn’t have full YouTube support in its native app form, which is a small gripe, but as a prolific patron of the site, I find it quite irritating.
Some may also really feel the absence of an integrated ZigBee hub, which means you’ll be relying on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for linking it to your other smart devices.
Ending on a positive note, the Echo Show 8 has some really cool modes to choose from. My personal favorite is the Photo Booth Mode, which involves Alexa taking single, multiple, or booth-style shots of you, saving them to the cloud, and allowing you to share them with friends.
And good news for the eco-warriors out there, it also features an environmental, low-power mode that reduces the burden on the planet and saves you a few bucks on the energy bill in the process.
Echo Show 8 - Alexa
I never understand why some smart products feature a watered-down version of Amazon’s iconic virtual assistant, but thankfully the Echo Show 8 gen 2 isn’t one of them.
That’s right, folks; it arrives with full Alexa support, and as a new release, Alexa is fully updated and firing on all cylinders — hurray!
Echo Show 8 - Design
These little screens look a lot like photo frames, especially when the background is saved as a heart-warming family photo or a picture of a well-loved family pooch.
It’s a great move on Amazon’s part, as it allows the Echo Show 8 to seamlessly blend into any sort of room. By all accounts, when not in use, it’s just another lovely memory to look at, centered in an attractive glass frame.
Admittedly, this isn’t a huge departure from the gen 1 model, but I definitely think it’s a better design than the new 3rd gen Echo Show 10, which looks as if Amazon glued a tablet to the urn holding your grandma’s ashes.
There are also some neat things going on in terms of the practical design elements of the Echo Show 8, especially when it comes to privacy. Next to the volume up/down buttons on the top side of the gen 2, you’ll find a mute button that kills the microphone, and a slide that blinds the camera, eliminating invasive data mining.
I also really appreciate the fact that a lot of recycled materials have been used to create the Echo Show 8 2nd gen. I’m not saying it’s a totally green product, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Echo Show 8 - The Final Verdict
So, is it worth upgrading from the 1st to the 2nd gen Echo Show 8? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for in a smart display.
If you plan on mostly using it for video conferencing, the 13-megapixel camera is 100% worth taking the plunge, but if you want to watch shows, and listen to music, you’re better off sticking with what you’ve got or skipping straight to the Show 10.
If you’re interested in picking the Echo Show 8 up today, you can check prices here.