Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd gen) review: Still the smart screen to get

Amazon's mid-range Echo Show is the right fit for most people looking for a smart display.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) video call
(Image: © Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

Not much has changed from the first to the second generation of the Echo Show 8, but that is actually a good thing. The 13MP camera is vastly superior to the 1MP shooter on the previous model, as is the new panning feature that keeps you in the frame of the call. If you've been waiting to purchase a smart speaker, this is a fantastic one to get.

Pros

  • +

    Perfect size for most spaces

  • +

    Dramatically improved camera

  • +

    Best affordable video-calling device

Cons

  • -

    Display and camera don't rotate

  • -

    Only two color options

  • -

    Can't play Amazon Music HD content

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Amazon has kept its lineup up to date with consistent refreshes including its Echo Show 8 with this second-generation model. May 2021 saw a whole host of updates and refreshes to Amazon's product lineup, from a new Fire HD 10 tablet, to a second tier of Fire Kids Pro devices, to updates to the Amazon Halo band and service. All of this is no doubt clearing its older devices from the decks in preparation for Prime Day 2021, where we're bound to see some impressive discounts on all Amazon devices (likely including this latest Echo Show).

When I first saw the spec sheet and read the relatively minor updates to the Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen), I knew that I'd still like the device, but I didn't think I'd be overly impressed with it as a refreshed product. After using the near paradigm-busting Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) and experiencing its show-stopping features like its rotating display and impressive speaker array, the updates offered on the new Show 8 felt like a sad trombone 'wah wah.' However, as I sat down to write this Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) review after a few days of using it in my home office, I was reminded of that adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The previous version was a product that we'd recommended as the best Amazon Echo Show for over a year now. In my estimation, this iterative update means that the second-gen speaker remains the best of Shows. It may technically be slightly inferior to the rotating display/camera system on the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen), but it's definitely a better value than its larger sibling.

Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen): Price and availability

Echo Show 8 2nd Gen 2 on a desk

(Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

The Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) was announced in early May 2021 alongside a second-generation Echo Show 5 and an all-new Echo Show 5 Kids device. The updated Show 8 smart speaker features an improved camera system and retails for $130 at Amazon and other retailers. The device starts shipping on June 9, 2021.

As this device is stationary and doesn't have a rotating motor like the larger Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen), Amazon offers a bundle with an adjustable (manual) stand for $155. There is also currently a bundle available on Amazon that includes a Blink Mini security camera for just $10 extra.

Amazon will be providing security software updates for this product through 2025, at least.

Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen): What we like

Amazon Echo Show 8 Gen 2 top controls

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

One of the things that I actually admire about Amazon devices is their consistency from generation to generation. If you were to pick up one of the best Kindle e-readers or Fire tablets from the past few years, you probably wouldn't be able to notice much difference between them and the newer devices at first glance. Sure, there are under the hood updates to the processors, cameras, speakers, and display tech, but the general look and feel remain startlingly similar.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryEcho Show 8 (2nd Gen)
Display8.0-inch with 1280x800 resolution
ProcessorMediaTek MT 8183, 8-core
Front Camera13MP
Speakers2 x 2-inches @ 10W per channel
Dimensions7.9 x 5.4 x 3.9 inches
Weight36.6 oz
Privacy ControlsBuilt-in camera shutter and microphone mute button
ConnectivityDual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth A2DP
ColorsGlacier White and Charcoal

Likewise, if you were to put this smart speaker next to the previous generation, you likely wouldn't notice any differences, except that the front-facing camera has a rectangular cutout instead of a round one. The dimensions, weight, and design are virtually identical to the first-generation Show 8, as is its price. This isn't really a device for upgraders, but rather new Echo Show customers or converts from other ecosystems.

The eight-inch display is built into a chassis that fits just about anywhere in your home. It is not only good for smaller spaces like your desktop or bedside table, but it doesn't feel diminutive or out of place in more wide-open areas like your living room or kitchen.

Speakers and sound

The Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) is really a smart screen first, and a smart speaker second. Its unique selling proposition has more to do with what you can read or watch on it than what you can hear from it. Still, with its two 52mm neodymium speakers and passive bass radiator, you might just be pleasantly surprised by the sound that comes out of this modestly-sized device.

Amazon Echo Show 8 Gen 2 from the side

(Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Those rear-firing speakers can get pretty loud, but I'm happy to report that they still preserve the highs quite well while not losing or getting drowned out by the thumping bass. This was true across various styles and genres, from dance and electronic music to country to classic rock. It doesn't feature the dynamic, room-filling sound of something like a Sonos One or Echo Studio, but the audio quality was pretty even and consistent. I'd be more than happy to have this as the primary audio speaker in a smaller space like an office or bedroom. But even in a larger space like your den or kitchen, it is a lot of fun to start an impromptu karaoke session with the onscreen lyrics available for thousands of songs.

On the downside, even though Amazon is now "giving away" lossless audio to all Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers, you won't really be able to hear the improved quality on this device. Additionally, good luck listening to YouTube Music if you subscribe to that service, as there is no official app support. You can, however, watch YouTube and listen to YouTube Music through the built-in browser on the Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen).

Photo frame and display

While it may not have all of the whizbang features of Google Photos or Apple Photos, Amazon Photos is a really good photo storage solution, particularly if you're already a Prime member. Prime subscribers get free unlimited photo storage, along with 10GB of video storage (you have to pay to upgrade that). It's a great option to consider, whether you're looking for an alternative to Google Photos or simply a secondary backup.

Like the Nest Hub speakers and Fire TV devices, the Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) makes a great digital photo frame, and Amazon has added in some new features with this version to make that experience even better. Now you can allow family and friends to share their recent photos with you via the shared home screen, which is sure to make for some interesting viewing experiences.

Another common use for Echo Show devices is for watching video. While it's perfectly serviceable as mini TV, allowing you to watch movies and shows on a variety of streaming platforms, it's really best for bite-sized content. Amazon positions it as the perfect device to watch cooking shows or recipes as you prepare a meal, or to get caught up on important news stories while you get ready for your day. At 1280 x 820p, it is technically an HD screen, and while the viewing experience won't rival your flatscreen or your laptop, I found videos to be pretty sharp and colors to be fairly accurate.

Camera features

Amazon Echo Show 8 Hero head to head

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

The new camera system also allows you to use the Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) as an additional security camera through the look-in feature via the Alexa app. You may think it's not as useful as the rotating camera on the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen), and you'd be right — to a point. Thanks to its wide-angle lens with pan and zoom capabilities, you can actually see a decent amount of the room in which the device is placed. So if you want to use it as a secondary home security camera, consider where you place the device in your space.