Best Amazon Echo Show in 2019: Which smart display should you buy? Android Central 2019

Did you know that there are three Echo Show devices currently being sold by Amazon? And that there was something called an Echo Spot? With so many showy Echo devices, which one should you get? We'll talk you through each option to help you decide which is right for your home, although we recommend the new Echo Show 8 above the others because of its great size.

Best Overall: Echo Show 8

The Echo Show 8 is the newest product in the Echo Show line, and as such, it takes some of the best features from the high and low ends. For example, it is in-between the smaller size of the Show 5 and the arguably unwieldy size of the Show (2nd Gen). It improves upon the sound quality of the smaller Show 5 with double the number of speakers (two 2-inch speakers at 10W per channel vs. one 1.7-inch speaker at 4W per channel). Plus, it has the same 1280x800 display as the larger Show (2nd Gen) for a higher ratio of pixels per inch.

The Echo Show 8 continues to build on Amazon's renewed interest in consumer privacy. It features a built-in camera shutter and a microphone/camera off button that allows users to physically confirm the device is not watching or listening to them. It also keeps the on-screen Privacy Hub controls that the Echo Show 5 introduced.

The Show 8 doesn't ship with the Zigbee hub integration that the larger Show (2nd Gen) includes. However, setting up and controlling your smart home devices with the Show 8 should be a breeze thanks to Amazon's new Certified for Humans program. This program promises to introduce "struggle-free, tinker-free, and stress-free" devices that pair quickly and easily with Alexa and Echo products.

There are some trade-offs with this device, however. Like the smaller Show 5, you only get a 1-megapixel front-facing camera, which isn't great for video chatting. While the audio is a step up from the Show 5, it still doesn't feature Dolby processing, which the 2nd Gen has. Despite these trade-offs, we think this will be the perfect Echo Show device for most people.

Pros:

  • Sits in the Goldilocks zone of Echo Show devices
  • Physical cover/off switch for microphones and camera
  • Similar specs to 2nd Gen but cheaper
  • Great sound quality

Cons:

  • No Dolby processing built-in
  • Camera is not as good as 2nd Gen

Best Overall

Echo Show 8

The Goldilocks zone

The Echo Show 8 comes in a more natural size that's easier to place than the Echo Show (2nd Gen). It's still comfy enough to watch recipes and videos on.

Best Value: Echo Show 5

When it was introduced in early 2019, the Echo Show 5 was praised by customers and reviewers alike because it put an Alexa-enabled smart display into a more affordable and more convenient package. This niche had previously been filled by the Echo Spot, and while the Spot was beloved, it didn't have great specs and was priced too high.

The Echo Show 5 was the first of the new generation of smart screen devices to include physical covers and switches to control what Alexa could see and hear, which eased many concerns about having Alexa in more sensitive areas of the home. Like the Show 8, the Show 5 lacks the Zigbee hub integration that can be found in the Echo Show (2nd Gen); however, it's looking like smart device interoperability and set-up will continue to get easier thanks to the aforementioned Certified for Humans program.

The Show 5 is almost in that price range where many people will take a chance on an impulse buy, and it has already appeared at a substantial discount several times. Amazon has already packaged it in several different bundles to date, including a bundle with the Show 8.

As great as this little device is, it's not all roses. While you do get a device that can fit just about anywhere, that comes at the expense of a lower screen resolution and sole speaker. It's also not the best device for video chatting, as it packs a measly 1-megapixel camera on the front.

Pros:

  • Perfect size for smaller spaces
  • Physical cover/off switch for microphones and camera
  • Great price, and can often be found in bundles

Cons:

  • Low-resolution screen
  • Sub-par camera
  • Smallest speakers on Shows

Best Value

Echo Show 5

An awesome affordable Alexa display

The Show 5 is the most affordable and portable Alexa display available. It fits nicely on a desk or nightstand and features a physical camera cover.

Best for Entertainment: Echo Show (2nd Gen)

Amazon introduced the first-generation Echo Show in 2017, and while many applauded the smart screen capabilities of the device, the biggest complaint was its physical design. The product was stark with sharp lines and a boxy look, and its display was set at a weird angle. Amazon addressed nearly all of the initial design complaints with the second generation, making it a softer, more plush looking smart display.

Like its predecessor, the 2nd Gen product includes a Zigbee hub for improved smart home device integration, though the need for this hardware feature seems like it will be mitigated by the new Certified for Humans program that Amazon is rolling out.

The Echo Show (2nd Gen) is great for watching videos or listening to music, as it features the best combination of speakers and screen technology in the entire product line. You can tell that Amazon wanted the device to be featured prominently in people's homes since it also added the best front-facing camera of all the Echo devices for those all-important drop-in sessions with grandma.

Not everything is perfect with this device, however. Its size may present a problem for some spaces, and it does not feature any physical controls for disabling the camera. It is also the oldest device in the Show lineup, so it is probably due for a refresh at some point in the not-too-distant future. However, if you have the counter space, and/or if you only plan on getting one smart screen for your house, this is the one to get.

Pros:

  • Stunning HD display
  • Available with free smart bulb
  • Better sound than smaller devices
  • Zigbee smart hub built-in

Cons:

  • Most expensive Echo by far
  • No physical camera cover
  • Size may be too big
  • Older

Best for Entertainment

Echo Show (2nd Gen)

More to show off

This largest Echo Show offers the best viewing and audio experience, but it comes at a price. It's the most expensive show, and it takes up the most space.

Best Alternative: Echo Spot

Okay, so this one is cheating a little bit, as the Echo Spot isn't technically an Echo Show device. It's also not technically available as a new product anymore. However, you can still find this handy little smart speaker on Amazon (refurbished) and at third-party retailers (new and refurbished), and if you can get it for the right price it is worthy of your consideration.

Shortly after the first-generation Echo Show was unveiled, the Echo Spot jumped onto the scene as a great little bedside smart clock. It was the perfect size for the smaller space of a bedside table, and its circular shape lent itself nicely to various clock faces. Its small screen was just the right size for displaying short video flash briefings, notifications, or the weather, and the speaker was better than the Echo Dots of the era.

The biggest drawbacks to the Echo Spot were that while it did have a camera, it didn't have a physical cover to put in place for those times when you didn't want to risk being seen. It also retailed for $130, which put it on the high range for Echo devices of the time. However, if you can find it for $100 or less, we think it still could be worthy of your consideration.

Pros:

  • Compact for small spaces
  • Circular screen works well for clock faces
  • Great for information at a glance

Cons:

  • Expensive for what it is
  • Hard to find new
  • No physical camera cover
  • Underwhelming screen and speaker quality

Best Alternative

Echo Spot

Amazon's original smart clock

The Echo Spot may be a little hard to find these days, but if you can get it for cheap it's still a great little companion Echo device with a screen.

Bottom line

Amazon realized it was onto something when it created the first Echo Show device and the Echo Spot, and each subsequent generation and product in the line has improved where it counts. There is now an Echo Show to fit just about any space and budget, and the quality of the microphones, speakers, and screens continues to improve. For our money, the Echo Show 8 is the best choice for most people, because it makes the right tradeoffs when it comes to size, specs, and price.

That being said, the smaller Echo Show 5 and larger Echo Show (2nd Gen) are great products in their own right. Many people may consider getting one of the larger devices for the main room in their home, and putting an Echo Show 5 or Echo Spot in an office or bedroom. Amazon has recognized this potential use case and is even offering a pretty compelling bundle right now with the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 5 being packaged together for less than an Echo Show (2nd Gen)!

If you are already in the Amazon Echo-system, then you'll love these devices. If you haven't taken the Alexa plunge, then any one of these smart screens present a great place to start!

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jeramy Johnson is proud to help to Keep Austin Weird and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about Amazon products and services, he's defending his relationship with his side-chick Alexa to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.

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