The third-generation Echo Show 8 ($149.99) introduces my favorite new feature: widgets. These widgets transform the smart display into a more efficient touchscreen controller, simplifying access to information without the need for voice commands. It’s almost as handy as a tablet or phone for swiftly checking my calendar, selecting a recent playlist, or controlling the kitchen lights. Plus, it’s a device that anyone in my household can utilize.
The Echo Show 8 Remains the Leading Smart Display
Unless you specifically need a smart home controller, the new Show 8 has you covered. It’s Amazon’s first smart display that functions as a comprehensive smart home hub (at least until the Echo Hub is launched). It now serves as a Zigbee hub and a Thread border router, on top of being a Matter controller and Sidewalk hub. This versatility allows you to effortlessly integrate and manage a wide range of smart devices in your home, though it’s not compatible with Z-Wave. Additionally, it’s the first Show 8 to feature Amazon’s AZ2 chip, enhancing its touchscreen responsiveness and making Alexa more responsive.
The Echo Show’s Screen Primarily Aims to Encourage You to Make More Purchases From Amazon
If you’re just beginning your journey into smart home technology or considering adding your first smart display to your existing setup, the new Show 8 is an excellent starting point. In addition to its smart home capabilities, it offers a wide range of features at a reasonable price (although it’s $20 more than the second-gen version when it initially launched). It serves as an Alexa smart speaker with a screen, capable of performing typical voice assistant tasks like setting timers, answering questions, playing music, and functioning as a home intercom. The screen enhances its functionality by enabling video calls, movie viewing, and providing visual responses to queries. Moreover, it doubles as a quality digital photo frame.
One more reason to opt for the new Show 8 over the previous model is its impressive sound quality. Echo Show 8s have always delivered decent audio for smart displays, but the third-generation model introduces a revamped speaker system and spatial audio. During testing, this improvement was quite noticeable, and it sounded notably better than the first-gen Show 8 I compared it to. I also put it up against a second-gen HomePod, and while the $300 Apple speaker outperformed it in terms of clarity, the Show 8 held its ground. Although the Echo may have a slightly heavier bass, it could reach high volumes. Additionally, it’s available at half the price of a HomePod and features a built-in screen.
However, it’s important to remember that this is still an Amazon smart display. Consequently, the primary aim of the screen is to encourage you to make more purchases on Amazon. Unless you promptly disable all the additional features, you might find it quite irritating. There are nearly 50 different settings that you should deactivate if you want to avoid receiving constant “product tips” and suggestions on how to make your morning coffee more entertaining with Alexa.