Review on Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021)
- Alexa can show you even more - 8” HD touchscreen, adaptive color, and stereo speakers bring entertainment to life. Make video calls with a 13 MP camera that uses auto-framing to keep you centered.
- Stay in frame - Make video calls with a new camera that frames and centers automatically. Simply ask Alexa to call your contacts.
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The Review on Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021)
Amazon certainly brought out its big guns with the release of the 3rd-gen Amazon Echo Show 10 earlier this spring in the form of a rotatable touchscreen that we haven’t seen on a smart display before. While there was an undeniable buzz around the 10-inch screen, it doesn’t feel the same for its newest sibling, the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021). You could say that the announcement was a bit more lukewarm.
Yet it is the following-up to the only smart screen that sold me the power of Alexa in a smart screen. Its predecessor managed to hit all the points, making it the most versatile smart display in the line-up.up from Amazon, when I reviewed it in the fall of 2019. However, what’s interesting about this latest iteration is the new camera that Amazon has crammed into it. The new 13-megapixel camera can be used to digitally pan and zoom during video calls, but seriously, there must be more to it than just that. Design: Just the right size
I really enjoyed the original Echo Show 8 because it wasn’t too small or too big. You could even say the size was just right. Looking at the new Echo Show 8, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between it and its predecessor, as Amazon chose to recycle the design. From the dimensions of 7.9 inches x 5.4 inches x 3.9 inches to the same design of the fabric-mesh-wrapped monitor plate, the Echo Show 8 (2021) is an exact copy of its predecessor.
However, by today’s standards, the design is just as generic and boring as it is with smart displays. Compared to its closest rival, the Google Nest Hub (2nd generation), it looks a bit bulkier, although its size still makes it more suitable for placing on tables, counters and desks than its 10-inch sibling.
Amazon definitely went the easy way to recycle the design, which is a shame, as I would have liked to have seen it trimmed down a bit – while still accommodating the 8-inch screen. Display: Even more vibrant than before
I can see right away that Amazon has improved the screen. While the resolution of the 8-inch HD touchscreen remains at 1,280 x 800 pixels, the new adaptive color feature make images look photo-realistic in any lighting situation.
The result here is a display that automatically adjusts the color temperature so that the photos scrolling through it appear lifelike, no matter what time of day you’re looking at them, or the ambient light conditions. Gone are the bleeding edges I noticed with its predecessor’s screen, replaced by an evenly lit display that is fascinating to look at. I’ll go so far as to say it’s a more attractive display than the one on the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd generation).
Sound Performance: Room-Filling Audio
Don’t be so quick to dismiss this one based on looks as it packs a punch in terms of sound performance. That’s not much of a surprise, as its predecessor also impressed me with its thumping bass and power. Packed with the same 2.0-inch neodymium speakers with a passive bass radiator, the new Echo Show 8 still proves it’s still a relevant speaker that fills rooms.
You get the feeling that it prefers lower range audio, which is evident in how the bass is so pronounced, but it’s not too overwhelming – especially if you adjust the bass, mids and treble settings via the settings menu or the Alexa app.
Features: YouTube is still a process
If you watch a lot of videos on YouTube, the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021) is not for you as there is no special feature for it. Instead it still opens up the web browser and directs you to the YouTube website. While you can still watch clips, the experience isn’t as intuitive as what you’d get with a Google Assistant smart display. But you really shouldn’t be too surprised, because we are dealing with an Alexa smart display.
Rather, the experience continues to revolve around the Amazon ecosystem. If you are a Prime subscriber, you reap all the benefits and perks of being one with the Echo Show 8 (2021). From asking Alexa to stream music or video content to getting notifications when Amazon orders have been delivered, there’s no denying it’s fit for everything Amazon does.
Like its siblings, it acts as a home hub for quick and easy smart home operation at the touch of a button button or by voice via Alexa. Speech recognition is still accurate and fantastic, even if there is some light background noise.
Camera: No need to stop for video calls
Armed with a 13-megapixel camera, its standout feature means you no longer have to stand still or still for the Echo Show 8 (2021) while making video calls. That’s because it will now automatically pan and zoom to keep you in the frame. This is a feature we’ve seen in other smart displays, such as Facebook Portal and Google Nest Hub Max, but it’s clearly a different implementation than what’s found in the Echo Show 10 (3rd generation).
It works pretty well. Although it’s best not to be too jerky or fast with movements, as the tracking moves at a moderate speed – enough so that it never feels erratic. It is a nice addition during the work-of-home era, but hardly a determinant feature between smart screens. You can use this digital pan-and-zoom feature on Alexa calls, but I appreciate that it is supported on Zoom calls as well. It would be nice to see wider support for this on other video chat platforms, but time will tell.
If you’re concerned about potential sniffers, there’s a switch that mutes the microphone and the camera. In addition to video calls, the camera is crucial to provide peace of mind when you are away home. I have always enjoyed using the Drop In feature with which I have direct access to the camera from my smartphone, which is perfect for checking out if the kids got it home sniff for snacks after school or like pets. Alexa Guard subscribers also receive notifications when it detects unusual sounds, such as breaking glass or smoke detectors going off. Our opinion
Sometimes we have high expectations when it comes to sequential devices. We often crave bigger, more elaborate features. The Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021) is an iterative gadget that makes only one meaningful improvement, to its camera’s functionality. Other than that, it’s no different from what its predecessor offered.
Fortunately, the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2021) cost doesn’t change at $130. If you don’t feel the need to move around during video calls, you’d better save the extra cash and buy the $110 Amazon Echo Show 8 first-generation. Is there a better alternative?
If you need something smaller, the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2021) is the obvious choice. Conversely, if you want all the bells and whistles in an Alexa-powered smart display, the Echo Show 10 (3rd generation) is the cream of the crop among Amazon’s smart displays – while also doubling as a versatile security camera. Now if you’re a Google Assistant fan, the Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) is the direct rival to the Echo Show 8 because it’s the same size but offers a unique sleep tracking mode you won’t find anywhere else with a smart display. How long will that last?
Even though it’s made of plastic, it’s the robust version, which gives me the confidence that it will last up against minor accidents and bumps. Since it will remain stationary wherever it is placed, it will likely remain operational for a long time to come. In the event that something goes wrong internally, there is a one-year limited warranty that covers defects.
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