The all-new Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) ramps up the smart home skills with the inclusion of Matter, Thread and Zigbee, and also has performance and audio boosts over its predecessor. The display is still a bit bland and there are some UI tweaks needed to really make the most of the new hardware but, overall, Amazon’s latest mid-sized smart display is a solid option for Alexa enthusiasts.
- Faster processor
- Improved audio
- Smart personalisation via Adaptive Content
- Zigbee, Thread and Matter support
- Same resolution as previous version
- Some options fiddly to access
- Screen sizeThis smart display has an 8-inch screen and a 1280 x 800 resolution.
- Smart home integrationHas built-in Zigbee and Thread radios, and Matter support.
The Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) is the latest entrant in the ever-evolving world of smart speakers with screens. While Google seems to have given up the ghost in this category, and Apple is yet to play its hand, Amazon has gone with the formula of more, more, more.
Hot on the heels of the 3rd-gen Echo Show 5, and joining the ranks alongside the Show 10, Show 15 and the soon-to-launch Echo Hub, the latest and greatest Show 8 picks up from where its predecessor left off, with an 8-inch HD display and a 13MP camera on board.
But it also beefs up the processing and audio power, while ramping up the smart home credentials too, by integrating Matter and Thread alongside Zigbee, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Amazon Sidewalk
There are also some nifty new inclusions and features you won’t find on any other Echo Show.
Design and Build
- New, curvier design
- Physical camera shutter
- Volume and mute controls on top
While the 2nd and 3rd-gen Echo Show 8 models share a lot in terms of hardware, the visual overhaul is pretty stark.
The new Show 8 takes design cues from the latest Show 5, embracing a more streamlined and curvier form factor. It’s not exactly breaking the mould but the edge-to-edge glass front certainly enhances the 8-inch display’s looks, albeit with that chunky bezel still on board.
That display retains its 1280 x 800 HD resolution from the previous model, so there’s nothing to get excited about here but the new iteration gives the impression of improved visuals, especially when juxtaposed with the curvier design of the speaker housing.
The Show 8 comes in charcoal and white, with the option of an additional stand for added flexibility.
In terms of controls, the volume buttons are positioned on the right, the mute microphone button on the left.
There’s also a physical shutter switch for the 13MP camera, which now occupies the central spot on the bezel.
Measuring slightly larger than its predecessor at 200 x 139 x 106mm and weighing just over 1kg, Amazon’s emphasis on sustainability equates to crafting the Show 8 from 29% recycled materials, and 99% of the packaging consists of wood-fibre-based materials sourced from responsible forests or recycled sources.
- Visual ID facial recognition
- Adaptive Content displays personalised information
- Faster processor
Powered by Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, the Echo Show 8 is a treasure trove of voice-activated capabilities but I won’t delve into the specifics in this review – our guide to Amazon Alexa goes into more detail on all of that.
Needless to say, as with all of the latest Echo Show devices, the 8 seamlessly integrates with connected cameras, video doorbells, and an absolute multitude of smart home devices.
While the screen and camera specifications remain unchanged, the 2023 Echo Show 8 has a significant uptick in processing power. This enhancement stems from its octa-core SoC, with Amazon’s AZ2 Neural Network Engine on board.
The result is a 40% boost in processing power that’s palpable in its snappy responsiveness to voice commands and touch interactions. The 2nd-gen Show 8 was a touch sluggish, there’s none of that lagging on the new entry.
A brand-new feature for the Show range debuts on the 2023 Show 8: Adaptive Content, which uses the proximity sensors to customize the homescreen based on your location within the room.
For instance, when you’re across the room, it might display a suggested recipe and, as you approach, it unfolds to show more details on the dish and a suggestion of a skill where you can find it.
Furthermore, personalization can be taken to the next level with Visual ID configured through your Amazon account. With this, the Echo Show 8 recognizes individuals and displays relevant information. For instance, it could reveal your favourite team’s latest results when it recognizes you or provide age-appropriate content for your child when they are in proximity.
For users who primarily use the Show for displaying photos, the Adaptive Content feature simply presents icons for your selected widgets as you approach.
On the Show 8, widgets do not stay permanently on the screen. Instead, you can select a maximum of four, and icons for your chosen widgets appear at the top of the screen when you’re nearby, and you’ll need to tap to access them.
The Show 8, with Thread and Zigbee radios, along with Matter controller functionality, is a pretty comprehensive smart home hub (sorry Z-Wave).
Setting up Matter over Wi-Fi, Matter over Thread, and Zigbee bulbs directly with the Show 8 is a breeze, delivering seamless and rapid local connections with no need to bother the cloud at all.
Nevertheless, accessing the smart home visuals requires an extra screen tap, which might be a minor inconvenience, especially for quick smart home control actions.
For example, to turn on or off a light you’ll first have to tap that smart home widget icon to access your devices, and then tap again to make the switch.
The smart home controls on offer are pretty good, though I would have liked to have been able to permanently pin some controls to the homescreen.
Like other recent Show models, the new 8 supports Home Monitoring’s remote view mode through the Alexa app, transforming the smart display into a makeshift security camera.
Alert notifications pop up on the Show, so anyone in the room is aware that they are on camera and it’s worth noting that you cannot record or store these video feeds, so it’s not a true indoor security camera replacement.
The camera’s central placement in the latest Show 8 enhances the video calling experience. It accommodates video calls through Alexa Calling and Skype, though Zoom support is notably absent in this model (Zoom worked on the 2nd-gen Show 8, so it’s an odd omission).
As per the previous-gen Show 8, there’s also built-in auto-tracking technology, which ensures the camera zooms in to follow your movements during calls. This is handy when video calling from the kitchen while cooking, for example.
The camera can also be used as a video-based motion detector, triggering Alexa Routines.
Privacy-conscious users will appreciate the ability to mute the microphone and close the camera lens, although doing so does affect some performance and features, for obvious reasons.
Sound and video quality
When it comes to video quality, the Show 8’s display remains unchanged, delivering acceptable but not exceptional quality for streaming services like Amazon Prime Video or Netflix.
It shouldn’t be your go-to primary video-watching device, but it performs well for casual viewing, such as when you’re busy in the kitchen or sorting the washing out in the utility room.
A native YouTube app remains conspicuously absent, though Amazon has at least included a shortcut to the web version of YouTube on the Video Home Screen, making access possible, if somewhat a pain in the bum still.
Audio, on the other hand, has seen significant improvements. The Show 8 now has dual 2-inch neodymium stereo speakers paired with a passive bass radiator.
The headline feature is the inclusion of spatial audio processing technology, enhancing the sound experience, and delivering a broader, more immersive audio output.
Furthermore, room adaption technology fine-tunes audio playback for optimal sound, akin to Sonos TruePlay.
The outcome is impressive; while it may not outperform the HomePod or compete with the likes of the Sonos Era 100, it offers a pretty robust audio quality.
While it may not replace your main living room or dining room speaker, it’s got more than enough power for settings like the bedroom, office, or kitchen.
As with all Echo speakers you can enjoy music and podcasts from various streaming platforms including Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.
Should you buy it?
You want more smart home control and better audio
Improved audio makes this a better music player, while the addition of Thread makes this a great Matter hub.
You have the previous generation product
If you have the 2nd generation product, you may find it does everything you need.
The Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) represents a pretty substantial upgrade, though it is not without minor quibbles that keep it from perfection. It has all of the hardware to function as an all-in-one smart home controller, yet some refinements in the user interface are needed to execute this better. While the screen could be crisper, the Adaptive Content feature is a nice addition. With significantly improved performance and impressive audio quality, the Show 8 also serves as a strong candidate for a primary speaker in specific settings.
How we test
Unlike other sites, we test every smart display we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as our main smart display for the review period
We test how well the smart display understands us, using a variety of requests and commands.
We use a variety of content, from video to text and photos, to see how well the screen copes.
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Yes, it supports Thread and Zigbee devices natively, with integrated Matter support for Thread and Wi-Fi devices.