There really isn’t much bad to say in this Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) review. It’s an Alexa smart display that will suit a kitchen or small living room. You’ll really be able to make the most out of your smart home with one of these.
You get all of the benefits of Amazon's own voice assistant, paired with a screen to serve up even more information. Expanding what you can do with Alexa, the screen gives you more ways to control your smart home, make video calls, follow recipes, set timers and even stream video. You can use it alongside the best smart bulbs, the best security cameras, the best video doorbells and the best smart thermostats. When it comes to the best smart speakers, you won't get much better than this.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: price and what’s new
Available to buy now, the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) costs £129.99 in the US, £119.99 in the UK and AU£199 in Australia. There are often discounts on it, so take a look at the widgets on this page to see all the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) deals across the web right now.
The first generation of the Echo Show 8 was released back in 2019, and despite looking identical to the 2021 version with the same features and the same speaker hardware, Amazon has made a few improvements that are worth knowing about.
Firstly, they've seriously improved the camera. What was once just a 1MP front camera is now 13MP, that’s a huge jump. Secondly, they’ve bumped up the processor from a 4-core MediaTek MT 8183 to an 8-core chip. It now matches that of the Amazon Echo Show 10.
One big design change isn’t immediately obvious, but Amazon has switched up the source of the materials used - the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) is ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’ which means the device, the cable and the adaptor are all made from 30% post-consumer recycled plastics, 100% post-consumer recycled fabric and 100% recycled die-cast aluminium.
Lastly, they’ve removed the 3.5mm audio port so you’ll only be able to connect to it wirelessly.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: design, display and setup
A triangular shape measuring 200 x 135 x 99 mm, the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) will fit best into a corner of the kitchen or living room, it may be a little too big for most bedside tables. You can buy it in either black or white. Unlike the smaller version, there’s no blue colourway.
Featuring an 8-inch display, the Amazon Echo Show 8 looks and feels like a propped-up, small tablet. It has quite thick bezels which house the 13MP camera, and along the top, there’s the microphone mute button, volume controls and the camera privacy shutter’s slider.
With a resolution of 1280 x 800p, the screen is very clear, bright and legible. Although you can technically stream video content from Prime Video, Netflix or YouTube, it won’t match the display quality of tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+. I’d say that you’d only really want to watch TV on it when you are busy with other tasks like cooking, as opposed to that being one of its main uses. I had it set up in the kitchen, where it proved to be a great size to read content like recipes, the weather and the news. It also proved to be very quick and reliable to use, I didn’t have any problems with it not responding to my touch.
Setting up the smart display was quick and easy. You just plug it in, enter your WiFi details on the touchscreen, followed by your Amazon account details. The screen was big enough that you could easily type on it, although admittedly it would have been even easier if you could set it up through your Alexa app like other Echo devices. After that, you’ll have full access to all of the smart features, including control over any other smart devices you have set up through Alexa like lights or security cameras.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: features, audio and camera
Like all Alexa speakers, the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) is jam-packed with smart features. Having a display gives you even more opportunity to make use of them. Some of the best are its smart home controls. You’ll be able to manage all of your Alexa-compatible devices through voice commands and through the Smart Home section on the display. That means you can switch on the lights individually or in their groups, as well as adjust their brightness. You can’t change their colour as things stand. If you own a Ring setup, you’ll be able to display the camera’s feed. Or if you have a smart thermostat, you’ll be able to control that too. It’s really handy, I found myself using it much more than I expected. Sometimes it’s actually easier not to use voice commands.
The voice assistant is always learning and growing, so you won’t be restricted by the generation of device you have. When you ask Alexa a question, she’ll provide visual answers as well as her usual response. For instance, when you ask about the weather, her reply is paired with digestible graphics. Or if you want the news headlines, you’ll see photos relating to the story. Waking her by saying 'Alexa' worked every time, the microphone was able to pick up voices even from the other side of the room.
One of the best things about the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) is that you can use it to make voice and video calls to other Alexa devices, or to anyone who has the Alexa app installed. The 13MP camera takes footage that looks really sharp and doesn’t suffer from any grain, and the microphone sounds very clear too. You wouldn’t use it to make work calls but to get in touch with friends and family it’s a fantastic feature.
Built into the smart display are two 2.0″ speakers, and while they won’t replace a powerful home speaker, they impressed with distortion-free, loud audio. I happily had it playing music whilst I went about my day. I wouldn’t use it as a party speaker yet for everyday use it easily filled up my small open plan kitchen and living room.
You can also use the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) as a smart photo frame. On the Alexa app, you just need to upload the photos you want to show and it'll present a slideshow of them on the display. I could carry on telling you about all of the features, but I’d have to go on forever. There really are tonnes to explore.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: verdict
Without a doubt, the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) is one of the best smart displays out there right now. I found it worked best as a kitchen assistant, helping me follow recipes and keep track of timings, but it could absolutely be useful in a living room or office space too.
It’s a shame Amazon got rid of the 3.5mm audio port, even though that won't be a deal-breaker for most. The display was large enough to read but not so big that it took up loads of space, and the microphone picked up my commands from the other side of the room. If you already have the first generation of the Amazon Echo Show 8 then it won’t be worth upgrading to this, as the changes aren’t huge. For anyone else though, this is a really great buy that balances price, performance and design perfectly.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: also consider
An 8-inch screen might seem minuscule to you if you have a large kitchen or living room, in which case, you should opt for the Amazon Echo Show 10. It won the Best Smart Speaker at the T3 Awards 2021 because of its large rotating screen that can follow you around the room.
For something a little more modest, consider the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021), it has a 5.5inch screen and would look right at home on a bedside table.
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