Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) review: the near-perfect smart display for most households

 Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author.
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Two-minute review

If the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) isn’t proof-positive that smart speakers are on their way out, then I don’t know what is. Smart displays not only allow you to connect and voice-control your smart home devices but also provide many other functionalities that even the best smart speakers and best Alexa speakers just aren’t equipped for.

This latest version of Amazon’s 8-inch model might also be the best smart display for most people – though budget-minded folks might prefer the much cheaper Echo Show 5, which has its own advantages – having a generous display and more functionalities. I’ve been using the second generation of the Echo Show 5 as my main smart display, and honestly, I’ve always found it a tad lacking. That is, it’s well suited for quick access to things but doesn't meet all my needs.

Upgrading to the Show 8 was a revelation. Suddenly, watching movies on Prime Video in my kitchen while cooking isn't a practice in the art of squinting, listening to Taylor Swift while doing the dishes is a better experience in audio, and video calls to friends and family don't feel like a game of hide and seek when you’re moving around and doing things.

The Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) is, of course, capable of much more than that, which I’ll get to in a second, but my point is that it’s a wiser choice as your home’s main gateway to your smart home devices and more.

There are things that I do feel Amazon could have done better. The display still has those thick bezels that now look outdated. The 13MP camera it inherited from its predecessor is just sufficient. Then there's the price bump, making it a less affordable proposition – though, luckily, Amazon regularly offers discounts on its devices.

None of those things would deter me from purchasing the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen), however, and they shouldn’t deter you either. If you’re serious about smartening your home, this is one of the best smart home devices to invest in.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Price and availability

  • How much does it cost?  $149.99 / £149.99 (about AU$230)

  • When is it available? Available now

  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and the UK

The Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) has gotten a price bump, sadly. At $149.99 / £149.99 (about AU$230), it’s $20 / £30 more than its predecessor, the Echo Show 8 (2nd gen). I don’t consider it that big of a price increase, however, especially considering the improvements that come with it. And, with Black Friday deals starting to trickle in, there’s no doubt it’s going to get a discount soon.

Bear in mind that it is pretty pricey if you compare it to the Echo Show 5. The Echo Show 5 (3rd gen), the latest version of the 5-inch model, is much cheaper at $89.99 / ‎£89.99 (about AU$140). So if you’re on a tight budget, I'd say get that one or save up for the Echo Show 8 if you can wait.

While US and UK customers can get it now, Australian customers will have to wait a little longer as it’s not yet available at the time of writing.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Specs

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Design and features

  • Solid build, made of recycled materials

  • Great display with unfortunately large bezels

  • Some design updates like a centered camera

Setting up the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) is easy, so easy, in fact, that there’s really not a lot of thought involved. This is true for all of Amazon’s devices. However, with added functionalities on the Show 8, there are some things you need to decide on, including Vision Accessibility, your choice of Photo Display, home monitoring, and more. You’ll also be asked to set up your Visual IDs.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

The whole setup shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes in a single-person household. However, if you’ve got several people to set up Visual IDs for – the process requiring each person to stand in front of the camera and then follow the prompts – it’ll obviously take longer.

If you’d rather skip creating Visual IDs for every single person, you may do so, but I'd advise against that as this feature detects whenever a “registered” individual is near and personalizes content and even the displayed information on the screen based on their history, preferences and more. That essentially gives every single person in your household their own virtual Echo Show 8, which is pretty nifty.

Before finishing setup, I also suggest setting up Adaptive Content, which uses what Amazon calls "on-device computer vision technology" to adjust the screen's content based on how close or far you are from the device.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

If you own the previous generation Echo Show 8, you might notice the lack of a design overhaul here. This looks a lot like its predecessor, but it does have a few small-ish changes. For example, the back is different, in that the sides and corners of the speaker cabinet aren’t flush with the display. That’s not necessarily a bad or good change, looks-wise; it just depends on your personal preference.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)'s camera and buttons
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)'s camera and buttons

You’ll also notice that the camera has been moved from the right side to the center, which should be advantageous for video calls. It’s ever so slightly lighter at 1.034g instead of 1.037g. And, finally, the display now has edge-to-edge glass, which does make it sleeker looking up-front.

If you were hoping to get a camera and a display upgrade, however, you'll be disappointed. You’re getting the same 13MP camera and the same 8-inch 1,280 x 800 display as before, including those large bezels around it that make it look a little dated. The 2-inch neodymium stereo speakers with passive bass radiator are also the same, although Amazon did improve the sound quality with better sound frequency representations, which I will talk about below.

I’ve only tested the Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) for a week so I can’t speak for its build quality, but I can tell you that it feels very well-made and robust. It’s also made from 29% recycled materials. It’s not as green as Apple’s slew of devices, but at least it’s getting there.

A lot of people are uncomfortable about having security cameras inside their homes, so if you'd like to enable home monitoring but still have the option to turn it off – or not have video on when you’re on calls – the camera privacy shutter is still there within quick and easy reach. And next to it are the mic/camera on/off button and the volume buttons.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Performance

  • Fast and responsive

  • Great features that work well, including Adaptive Content

  • Booming audio, great display

At launch, Amazon said it’s powered with an octa-core SoC with Amazon’s AZ2 Neural Network Engine. This improved processor is supposed to be 40% faster than its predecessor when it comes to executing requests and Alexa’s responses.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

While I couldn’t make a direct performance comparison with its predecessor as I haven’t tested that myself, I can tell you that after putting up with the Echo Show 5’s (2nd gen) slow processing for at least a year, this Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) felt like a game changer. This thing delivers fast responses, whether I’m asking Alexa to translate something to another language, turning on my smart lights, or calling a friend for a video chat. It even pulled up and started a movie on Amazon Prime Video very quickly, within a couple of seconds, when it normally takes my Echo Show 5 (2nd gen) at least a minute to do so.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

The touchscreen display is just as responsive. Tapping buttons and links on my Echo Show 5 (2nd gen) usually means a few seconds of waiting. Sometimes, it doesn’t even respond to my taps. But that isn’t the case here. Every tap is registered and responded to quickly.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

Speaking of the display, it may not have gotten an upgrade, but it’s not really necessary in this current version. Its visuals are crisp and clean, and the screen is incredibly bright, allowing me to enjoy movies and shows or see my security camera footage very clearly without the need to squint. I just wish it wasn't so reflective, but the brightness helps offset that.

New features like the Visual ID and Adaptive Content are fairly fast as well. It does take a second or two for the camera to process what it's seeing and react accordingly, but not so long that you’ll get impatient. I quite like these two features as they specifically cater to your visual needs, though I did find that the Adaptive Content doesn’t usually switch to Minimal (the large image and text format) until I’m a little more than five feet away. And there’s no way to change that in the settings.

Video footage of author from Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)
Video footage of author from Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

The one thing I wished Amazon had upgraded, though, is the camera. It’s the same camera that’s on the previous generation, and while it delivers decent footage, I wouldn’t consider it crisp in this day and age. Not that most people would be using this for the type of video calls that require high-res audio, like business meetings, but having that option would have been nice.

Also, it keeps the same auto-framing feature as its predecessor, which means it’ll follow you around the room, panning and zooming as necessary, when you’re on video calls, but that also feels slightly slower than on many webcams I’ve tested. Again, it’s not too bad, in fact, it's very intuitive. I’m impressed by how appropriate its framing is based on your proximity and position. When I’m a little further away, for example, it actually not only zooms out but centers me, so there’s not a lot of space above my head. However, it’s still a tad slow to operate.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (2023) in use by author

The sound is impressive. The speakers can get pretty loud – one-bedroom apartment-filling, actually – but even at 50% volume, they’re powerful with great frequency representation. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an audiophile experience, but it’s better than the massive soundbar I have in my living room. And, it’s got decent bass response as well, so you can use it as your main speaker if you’re throwing a party.

Basically, what you've got in the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) is an all-in-one solution for not just your smart home but also your home needs.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)?

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) in use by author

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen): Also consider

If the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) isn't for you, why not consider other smart displays?

How I tested Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen)

  • I tested it for a week

  • I used it as my main smart display at home

  • I made sure to put its features and functionalities through their paces

Testing the Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd gen) for a week, I used it as the main smart display (and smart speaker, for that matter) in my apartment. I used it to manage and control my smart home devices, including smart lights, cameras, and more.

Setting it up in my kitchen, I also used it to pull up recipes, watch movies, and listen to music, as well as video-call friends. Naturally, I tested its features, paying close attention to the new ones, and performance to see how they measure up in the real world.

I’ve been testing and reviewing vacuum cleaners, home appliances, and smart home devices for different digital publications for years. Currently, I’ve taken on the role of Interim Homes Editor for TechRadar.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed November 2023