If you’re reading this, chances are that you already own an Echo of some description. Most people start out with a smart speaker, but with low prices (including some tempting half-price deals) you may well be wondering if it’s a good idea to get an Amazon Echo with a screen.
And the short answer is yes. Yes, it is a great idea to get an Echo Show. As well as all the usual spoken Alexa stuff, a screen means you can do even more, from seeing information at a glance (think timers, outdoor temperature, time & date) to watching the news headlines to bringing up the video feed from your doorbell or security cameras.
Echo Show 8: Price & availability
buy an Echo Show 8 from Amazon. The normal price is £119.99 / $129.99, but at the time of review Amazon had discounted it (as an introductory price) to just £59.99 / $79.99.
That’s such a good deal that even if you order one right now, you won’t get it for a while as it’s out of stock.
But even at the normal price, it’s still a good deal when compared to the
10in Echo Show, which is almost twice as expensive.
Echo Show 8: Features & design
The Echo Show 8 takes the same design as its siblings, so without a side-by-side comparison it’s difficult to tell which is which – certainly when comparing the 8- and 10in models. Colour options are the same too: either black with fabric on the back, or white (sandstone).
Where the Echo Show 5 is really best suited to a bedside table, the Echo Show 8 can compete with its big brother in just about any room: the screen isn’t noticeably smaller and the interface works just as well.
It’s well worth reading our
review of the Echo Show 5 and the
second-gen Echo Show (the 10in one) for more details: they’re so similar to each other that I’m not going to repeat them all in this review.
What’s important to know is where the compromises lie. And really, there are only a couple – and one almost certainly won’t bother you one bit.
First, there’s the camera. It’s 1Mp model like the Echo Show 5, rather than the higher-definition 5Mp camera in the 10in Echo Show. But, it also has a sliding cover so there’s visible proof that the camera is off. That’s something the biggest Echo Show doesn’t have – one button turns off the mics and camera, but you have to believe the on-screen message that the camera really is disabled.
Second, the speakers are slightly smaller (2in versus 2.2in) than the big Echo Show’s but while sound quality is marginally worse, it is still very good.
Last, but definitely the least compromise, is the absence of the Zigbee hub that’s found in the big Echo Show. Given how few smart home gadgets require one of these, it’s really no problem that the Echo Show 8 doesn’t have one, and the price is that much lower because of it.
It may be smaller, but it has the same 1280×800 resolution as the 10in Echo Show. It’s bright and sharp and easy to read even when you’re not right in front of it.
It’s nice that the bezel is a consistent width, unlike the thicker, uglier top part on the 10in version.
And the interface is exactly the same here, with a quick settings bar available by swiping down from the top, and a smart home / music control brought in from the right-hand side.
Even so, in most cases it’s quicker to just ask Alexa to do these things, whether it’s connecting to your phone via Bluetooth, turning on your Alexa-compatible smart lights, showing the video from a Nest Hello doorbell or playing the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman.
However, it is nice that when you turn on a light, for example, that the screen shows extra controls which allow you to quickly adjust its brightness (or colour, if relevant).
While some people may mourn the absence of Netflix, this isn’t really an ideal device for watching anything more than the short news headline clips that you’ll see when asking Alexa for a flash briefing.
It might also be frustrating that it’s difficult to access YouTube, as that must be done via one of the two web browsers – the official app is currently only offered on Amazon Fire TV devices.
Ultimately, the Echo Show revolves around Amazon services, and so you’ll get the most from it if you use Amazon Prime Video, Music and use Amazon for your photo storage.
If all your photos are stored on Google Photos you might well prefer to
buy a Google Nest Hub (which, as a slight aside, has the ability to adjust its colour tone based on ambient light – something the Echo Show range lacks).
But, if you’ll mainly listen to music rather than use your smart display as a digital photo frame, then the Echo Show 8 certainly sounds a lot better than the Nest Hub.
The Echo Show 8’s speakers are powerful enough to fill a room. Thanks to a bass ‘radiator’ audio is fairly well rounded: not too tinny and with enough thump that music sounds good. It’s no Echo Studio rival, of course, but it’s almost as good as the biggest Echo Show and it’s great for background music – or radio.
On the back is a 3.5mm audio output if you want to connect wired headphones or your own speaker.
It has taken only two years, but Amazon has finally struck the right balance between price, size and sound with the Echo Show 8. Plus, it gives it a direct rival to Google’s Nest Hub, which also has an eight-inch screen.
For more alternatives, check out our roundup of the
best smart displays.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (1st gen): Specs
- 8in, 1280 x 800-pixel screen
- 2in speakers
- 201 x 136 x 99 mm
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- MediaTek MT 8163 processor
- One-year warranty