Echo Show 8: Smart Screen Review and Opinion
“It’s a multi-purpose device, carefully designed and sized for any room.”
Talking to a machine has become an everyday activity thanks to smart speakers and screens. And if you don’t already have one, perhaps this 2020, with so much time spent indoors, you’ll be encouraged: sales of these devices have not stopped growing and will continue to do so, according to eMarketer data.
Amazon dominates this business with a 70 percent market share in the United States. The company can boast a catalogue for all needs. From small and simple speakers like the Echo Dot or the powerful Echo Studio to its latest smart display, Echo Show 8. This new member is positioned as the medium sized member of the family consisting of Echo Show 5 (5.5 inches) and Echo Show (10.1 inches).
The ideal size
Just as Echo Show 5 is intended to fit mainly into bedroom bedside tables, Echo Show 8, with an eight-inch touch screen and dimensions of 200.4 x 135.9 x 99.1 mm (7.9 x 5.4 x 3.9 inches), fits into any room in the house. The light grey acoustic fabric cover, combined with the white plastic front frame of the screen, gives it a modern look and will not clash with more contemporary decorative styles.
At the top, there are two buttons to adjust the volume, one to turn off all four microphones and the camera, and another slider to physically cover the camera and ensure privacy at any time, for example for a video call. The one-megapixel camera is located at the top right. The power connection, 3.5 mm audio output and micro USB port are all together at the back. At the base, a black rubber reinforcement helps seat the device and prevent it from slipping.
Echo Show 8 is very easy to set up: you plug it into the power supply, select the language, connect it to the wifi network, log on to Amazon, choose the time, give it permission (or not) to register your address (to give you weather and traffic information), give it a name, choose a wallpaper (it will change every so often with the photos you want) and that’s it.
Once connected, the device allows you to configure the options (brightness, do not disturb mode, background, clock, content restriction …) with a few touches on the screen or by voice. To access the main menu, simply slide your fingers from the right side of the screen to the left side.
Invitation to leisure
The touch screen adds features and that’s why these devices are even more practical than smart speakers – one of which is booming because of confinement? Video calls with the people in your contacts, provided they have an Alexa-compatible device or phones with the Amazon app. If you also have more compatible smart speakers, you can intercommunicate with other family members through Drop In, although this option is not by default, you must activate it yourself (here we show you how). But keep in mind that with this feature you can remotely listen to everything the speaker in the other room hears.
The screen also facilitates entertainment with audiovisual content. For this reason, it comes with the skills of Amazon Prime Video and RTVE.es pre-installed.
For web browsing, it offers two browsers: Silk, Amazon’s own, or FireFox (configured through Configuration/Device Options/Web Options/Browser). However, to use Firefox you need an Amazon Fire TV Stick. With Silk comes some sites already pre-installed for access as bookmarks (Facebook, YouTube and Amazon) and also incorporates the Bing browser. If you use Google, simply say “Alexa, open Google” and the search window will appear instantly.
If you have a Kindle digital book, Echo Show 8 reads aloud the texts of the recently downloaded ones, while the screen shows the book cover, the title, the chapter and the author. If you lose your attention and want to hear the last words again, you click on an icon that backs up the reading.
Image and sound
The screen resolution of the Echo Show 8 remains in HD with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, the same as its 10.1-inch big brother. Although it’s not a full HD screen, the image quality measures up. Amazon Prime Video movies and series look better than videos from YouTube and other sources.
The 2 x 2.0″ speakers with 10 W per channel provide stereo sound. In audio, it is more than adequate for video call use. However, despite having plenty of power to listen to music from afar, at high volume it distorts. However, the volume is slightly above half, which is sufficient for listening in a medium sized room. You can ask Alexa by voice to change the song, although from the app the song selection is much more fluid. And connecting to Spotify Premium is as easy as opening this music application, enabling playback of a track and, via the Settings/Connect to a device section, clicking on Echo Show 8 (with the name you’ve given it).
Functions and disadvantages
Like other similar devices, this model displays the time, temperature and photos (including your own). And because the smart speakers make it easy to set up alarms and routines (Good Night and Start My Day), with the added bonus that the brightness adapts to them. Of course, it also allows playback of Amazon Music, with the ability to display the lyrics, if you want. If you have compatible smart home devices (light bulbs, appliances, thermostat…), you can turn them on or off by simply telling Alexa.
Adding things to the shopping list, setting up reminders, learning new words, asking him to tell jokes or funny things, doing translations, guiding in meditations or checking the status of an order on Amazon are some of the functions you can ask him for by voice (or by clicking on the screen).
As with other speakers from Amazon and other brands, don’t be surprised if sometimes Echo Show 8 doesn’t understand you, doesn’t hear you, and doesn’t respond to your request. It’s also normal that Alexa sometimes activates features you haven’t asked for, as we’ve seen in our reviews that she has activated music without being asked.
In our tests, the only problem we have found (only once) is that when browsing a website, it has not been displayed correctly, it has moved slightly preventing us from seeing some content, although by turning it back, it has been solved.
This device from Amazon meets all expectations. Although eight inches is not the best size for watching series and movies, it is perfect for all other functions, with the advantage that it takes up little space and can be placed on a piece of furniture, a work table or the kitchen counter.
The screen resolution of the Echo Show 8 is more than sufficient to view contents. The same goes for the sound. Although it’s not specifically designed for listening to music, it gives you plenty of power to enjoy songs from both the Amazon and third-party services, and the audio quality is decent if you don’t turn it up.
At the close of this article, its official price of 129.99 euros ($129.99 in the United States) was considerably reduced: 99.99 euros ($99). This is a medium price compared to its rivals, the other Amazon Echo Shows. If your priority is video calling, the smart screens launched by Facebook, the Portal family, also integrates video calling with the Alexa feature, as well as WhatsApp and Messenger (the eight-inch is also discounted and is now worth the same as the Echo Show 8 on sale).