Alexa does a fine job with audio alone, but the addition of a screen opens so many doors. Of Amazon's various Echo Show smart displays, I think the Show 8 is the easiest to recommend to the most people: it's big enough to have a useful screen and fulsome sound, and at $130, it's just over half the price of the larger Echo Show 10. If you're an Alexa user (or open to becoming one), the Echo Show 8 is easy to like.
With powerful audio, a vibrant display, and a 13-megapixel camera, the second-generation Echo Show 8 is an easy choice for anybody who prefers Alexa to the Google Assistant.
- Chipset: MediaTek MT 8183
- Display: 8.0” 1280 x 800 LCD touchscreen
- Sound: 2.0” (52 mm) neodymium speakers with passive bass radiator.
- Colors: Charcoal, Glacier white
- Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wi-fi connectivity
- List price: $129.99
- Dimensions: 7.9”W x 5.4”H x 3.9”D
- Great audio with plenty of bass
- Vibrant screen
- Better performance than Echo Show 5
- No 3.5mm audio output
- Content suggestions are rarely relevant
- No access to Disney+ or HBO Max
Design, hardware, what's in the box
The Show 8 is a fabric-covered wedge with an eight-inch LCD touchscreen on one side, available in either black or white. Think Echo Show 5, but bigger. The overall design might be charming on that smaller display, but at these proportions, it looks a little plain. That should help it blend into your room more easily, but I wish there were a flashier color or two to choose from.
There's a 13-megapixel webcam in the bezel above the Show 8's screen. That webcam is one of the biggest upgrades 2021's model offers over the previous generation, which featured an astoundingly crummy one-megapixel camera. The current Echo Show 5 is still stuck with a mere 2MP camera. The higher-resolution sensor in the Show 8 lets it track you around the frame during video calls and makes using the display as a live-feed security camera a little more feasible. It's still got a physical privacy shutter, which, annoyingly, is white on both colorways. It sticks out like a sore thumb when closed on the black version I'm using. The shutter is controlled by a switch on the Show 8's top side that shows orange when the shutter is closed.
The Echo Show 8's privacy shutter, half open.
To the left of the shutter switch, there are buttons to control the display's volume and mute its microphones. When the mics are muted, the mute button lights up red, and a banner on the display's home screen persistently reminds you that Alexa isn't listening.
The bottom surface of the display has a grippy rubber pad to help keep it in place, and around back, there's a microUSB port for service and a barrel connector for the Show 8's AC adapter. In the box, you'll find the Echo Show 8, its power cable, and some literature. (There's an optional stand to raise the display up a bit, but it's sold separately.)
Display and audio
The Echo Show 8 is named for the eight-inch LCD touchscreen that takes up most of its face. It sports a resolution of 1,200 by 800 pixels — just over HD. It's less pixel-dense than most of the screens you're probably used to seeing, but interacting with it at arm's length for a few seconds at a time, I hardly noticed. It helps that it's a very nice screen otherwise: viewing angles are great, and colors really pop. This model's screen can also adjust its white balance on the fly to try to better match lighting in the room. Toggling the setting on and off, it's clear it makes a difference, but the effect doesn't seem as pronounced as Amibient EQ on my Nest Hub Max.
At eight inches diagonally, the Show 8's display is too small to want to watch video on for very long. But it's big enough to be useful for timers, checking the forecast, or cooking help in the kitchen, and it's a great size for a digital photo frame. The screen is angled back slightly, so it's easy to interact with on a table or counter.
Sound out of the Show 8's dual two-inch drivers is great. Mids and highs come through clearly, and bass is surprisingly rich and full. Overall, the Show 8 can't quite match the swiveling Echo Show 10, which has a three-inch woofer and two one-inch tweeters, but its audio sounds significantly more lifelike than the Show 15's, and it's in an entirely different league than the tiny Show 5.
Because there's no room on the front of the display for speaker grilles, audio vents from the sides of the device, which are angled slightly to the rear. That means sound is actually louder and clearer beside and behind the Show 8 than it is in front of it. It isn't ideal, but it's more of a quirk than a serious flaw — the Show 8 can easily fill a small room with good audio.
There used to be an aux port here.
The first-generation Echo Show 8 had a 3.5-millimeter auxiliary port you could use to route audio from the display to practically any external speakers. This newer version doesn't; the spot where it was on the original is, rather inelegantly, now empty. Sound out of the display itself is really good, and I don't mind using the built-in speakers, but it's still a shame to see the option missing.
Software and features
Amazon's Alexa is a perfectly capable assistant. Even if you're used to interacting with the Google Assistant on your phone or other smart speakers or displays, functionality is similar enough that, outside a few specific cases, you shouldn't ever be at a loss here. You can ask Alexa for the weather, or to control your smart lights, or to play music or video, and so on — and if there's something Alexa can't do out of the box, there's probably a Skill you can add for it.
The Alexa Android app is functional, but crammed with poorly organized features.
Setup is a bit of a pain. You have to enter your Amazon login information on the device's touchscreen, and if you're security-minded, that means pecking out a long, convoluted password and maybe even a two-factor authentication code (though I do appreciate the split software keyboard that lets you comfortably do this with your thumbs). Other smart displays are simpler to get up and running, with devices like Google's Nest Hub handling setup almost entirely from your phone.
After that initial hump, the Show 8 is typically easy to interact with. In my own use, I didn't find myself touching the screen all that often; outside digging into the display's settings to disable the many, many types of unhelpful content suggestions Amazon subjects you to by default, I mostly only touched the Show 8's screen very occasionally to do things like skip a track on Spotify or check a notification about an Amazon package (both things you can also do by voice).
The little on-screen navigation that is required is, thankfully, at least as snappy as it needs to be. Amazon used MediaTek's MT 8183 chipset in the latest Show 8; the second-gen Show 5, released around the same time, is powered by the older MediaTek MT 8163, and the smaller display's performance is noticeably worse for it. (The MediaTek MT 8163 was also used in the first-generation Show 8.)
Streaming options are more limited than I'd like. For video, you've obviously got access to Prime Video, and big names like Netflix and Hulu. YouTube is also available through the Show's web browser. There's currently no way to access Disney+ or HBO Max, though. On a screen this size, I can't say that bothers me at all, but if you want to use the Show 8 as a mini kitchen TV, it might be a deal-breaker for you. You can stream music from Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, iHeartRadio, Tidal, and more, but not YouTube Music. The display does have Bluetooth audio input, though, so you can play sound from any source in a pinch.
When the Show 8 isn't doing anything, its display shows the current time and weather and cycles through a number of different views. You can set it to show outdoorsy photos, paintings, shapes and colors, or even your own photos — though you'll need to have them in Amazon Photos. By default, you'll get an absolute ton of suggestions on the home screen for things like recipes, sports scores, and news, but these are mercifully easy to disable in the Show 8's settings.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Alexa is a known quantity at this point, and if it's your preferred digital assistant, you'll like the Echo Show 8. It's a powerful little speaker with a vibrant screen and responsive performance — a set of qualities that ticks just about every box I have when it comes to smart displays.
Compared to the original model, the second generation is quicker thanks to its upgraded chipset, and it has a much better webcam, but the screen and speakers are the same. The new model also lacks wired audio output, a downgrade that may or may not matter to you. If you've got the older Show 8 already, you're getting almost the same experience — but you may want to upgrade if you use your smart display to make a lot of video calls.
Unless you're already invested in another smart home ecosystem that makes buying Echo devices impractical — if your house is kitted out in Google gear, for example — or you absolutely need to be able to watch HBO or Disney content, the $130 Echo Show 8 is a great smart display (especially so if it sees a discount for Prime Day).
Buy it if...
- You want a reasonably priced smart display with good audio.
- You're into Amazon's devices and services already.
Don't buy it if...
- You already have a bunch of Google Assistant stuff at home.
- You want to stream from Disney+, HBO Max, or YouTube Music.
Q: How does the Echo Show 8 compare to the Echo Show 10?
The Echo Show 10 has a larger, 10-inch touchscreen. That screen is attached to a swiveling base that can position the Show 10's screen to always be facing your direction. The Echo Show 10 also has more powerful audio than the Show 8. The larger smart display retails for $250.
Q: How does the Echo Show 8 compare to the Echo Show 5?
The Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8 share a similar design, but the Show 5 has a 5.5-inch display. The smaller display is also slower than the Show 8, features a lower-resolution two-megapixel camera, and has notably poor audio quality. The Show 5 is cheap, though, at an MSRP of $85 (and frequently on sale).