The Amazon Echo Show 8 can do all the same tricks as a regular Echo speaker, with the added benefits of seeing Alexa results on the display (ie. the weather, timers, security camera feed etc.), and video calling. Although, there are a few things to consider before you decide on adding this to your smart home arsenal.
Amazon Echo Show 8
- Great sounding speaker
- Physical camera shutter
- Can view live video streams from Ring and Blink cameras
- Useful in the kitchen
- Screen feels cheap
- Uses Skype for video calling
- Sub-par web browser (Amazon Silk)
- Can’t use YouTube or Netflix
- Poor camera quality (1MP)
The Echo Show 8 sports an 8.0” HD 1280 x 800p resolution display, 2 x 2″ 10W speakers, and a dismal 1MP front facing camera.
The overall build quality gives that premium device feel, with the exception of the screen, which feels more like plastic than glass. On the other hand, the look and feel of the fabric body makes the Echo Show 8 feel more like a premium device.
The physical camera shutter allows you to completely obstruct camera’s view. In our opinion, this is a must have for any smart home device with a camera. Kudos to Amazon for adding this to the Echo Show 8.
The Echo Show 8 is easy to set up. All you need to do is power it on, connect it to your WiFi network, and sign in to your Amazon account.
If you opted in for Amazon’s “Frustration-Free Setup” during checkout, then getting started with your Echo Show 8 is even easier. All you need to do is power on the Echo Show 8, and it takes care of the rest.
The easiest way to video call is by calling someone who also has an Echo Show device. Alternatively, you can use Skype (yes, Skype) to video call anyone who doesn’t have an Echo Show. You’ll need to know beforehand which of your contacts has an Echo Show, or Skype, to use the video call feature. If you try video calling someone who has neither, the Echo Show will just ring until the call fails.
Since there are so many easier and more widely used alternatives for video calling (Zoom, WhatsApp, Google Duo, to name a few), we don’t see much value in the Echo Show’s video calling feature. Sure, it’s probably capable of supporting 3rd party video calling apps, but Amazon isn’t going to let wander that far outside of their ecosystem.
For more ways to communicate through Alexa, see Amazon Alexa app: Communication tips and tricks
All Echo Show devices use Vimeo in place of YouTube for voice search results. The only way to watch YouTube videos is to open the Amazon Silk browser or Firefox, then navigate to YouTube.com, which is a lot more painful as it sounds.
Other streaming services supported are Hulu and, of course, Amazon Prime Video. Other popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ or Apple TV+ are not supported, and are not accessible through the Silk or Firefox browsers.
Security Camera Video
Being able to see your security video camera feeds on the Echo Show screen is one of its more useful features. The Echo Show supports both Ring and Blink cameras.
We’ve always been on the fence about the usefulness of smart displays. In general, they don’t offer as much as they can, and the Echo Show 8 is no exception. With no native support for video streaming services like YouTube or Netflix, or for popular video calling apps like Zoom or WhatsApp, it’s hard for us to recommend the Echo Show 8 to anyone other than die-hard Amazon fans, or people looking to video chat with their grandparents.
Although, the Echo Show 8 would be especially useful in the kitchen while your hands are slimy or busy doing other things. As much as smart displays frustrate us, the Echo Show 8, with its larger display and better sounding speakers, is an improvement over its predecessor, which is a step in the right direction.