We tested Amazon’s Echo Show 8: the Alexa speaker with screen and spatial audio that you will want on Black Friday

we tested amazon's echo show 8 the alexa speaker with screen and spatial audio that you will want on black friday
we tested amazon's echo show 8 the alexa speaker with screen and spatial audio that you will want on black friday

Amazon is renewing itself for Black Friday that starts today on the platform. The American company has brought to Spain several devices presented last September at its annual event around Alexa devices,  among them the Echo Show 8 stands out, one of the most popular smart speakers with a screen on the market.

The third generation Echo Show 8 maintains the essence of the previous models, with a continuous design that offers a considerable size screen on the front, with a webcam with which to make video calls, as well as a speaker on the back for being able to play music in the room. However, everything has been improved in this model. 

Specifically, Amazon has placed emphasis on revamping the 2021 model with an exterior and interior redesign that presents a new, more elegant and current design, an improved processor, and a better audio and communications experience. All with the ambition that this speaker becomes the center of the home , which is why it integrates the digital controller compatible with Matter, Zigbee or Threat, with which to easily manage lights, cameras, sensors, doorbells or locks.

The renewal also makes its price ambitious, 40 euros more than the starting price of the previous version . The new model hits the market for 169.99 euros, although during Black Friday it can be found for 139.99 euros We have tested it during the last week to see first-hand if it is worth taking advantage of the discount.

The center of the home

Amazon’s ambition with Alexa devices is simple: make the technology adapt to people. This is where the connected home comes into play, a series of automations that the company tests to the maximum and with extreme precision in detail in its laboratories so that this possible friction between technology and user experience does not exist. With the Echo Show 8, the user will be able to aspire to have a simplified digital home, easy to manage, without the need to have extensive knowledge about how to have lights or plugs connected. Everything arranged in two screen touches.

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More compatible devices can be linked and controlled in a simple and intuitive way without the need for third-party bridges. Compatibility with Zigbee, Matter and Thread makes the range of products from other compatible brands expand exponentially, having full control of them and centralized in a single place. Routines, voice controls, automations or visual management can be marked in a comfortable and easy way. Although voice commands will be the main way to interact with the speaker, the screen is especially useful to see at a glance the answer to questions, the calendar, our route to work or follow the instructions of a cooking recipe.

Thinking about adjusting to the needs of each family member, it incorporates the visual ID system , which allows Alexa to recognize you and show personalized content. Thus, when the system recognizes you, you will see calendars, reminders or personal notes that other members of the house will not be able to see and will not appear by default. It should be noted that this option is not activated by default, but rather it is the user who, proactively, has to set it in order to take advantage of this functionality. If not, the widgets can be shared with all users in the home.

Although we can control everything from the screen, the true reference for using this speaker—as with all Echo speakers— is Alexa. Amazon’s intelligent assistant continues to stay ahead of market rivals to remain useful in responses and commands, as well as to keep the conversation flowing with the idea of ​​adjusting to our requests.

Big sound

One of the great advances in the redesign of the new model is the facelift of both the exterior and interior. Inside it has a new improved processor that makes everything run much smoother and the screen performance has been greatly improved. On the outside, its acoustic ambition has grown and we now have a speaker that sounds really good and supports spatial audio. Another league of sound.

The improvement in sound is a radical change compared to the previous model. This is where the price increase compared to the previous model is understood since the commitment to surround spatial sound offers a music listening experience that transcends the size of the device. We are not used to an Echo of this size performing so much at the audio level.

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The sound capacity allows it to cover the entire room , since it is capable of adapting to the space by analyzing the acoustics that surround it. This technology makes music – especially on Amazon Music and Apple Music – sound impeccable, but it is especially appreciated in series and movies that can also be enjoyed from the speaker.

And the improvement of the screen together with the new sonic system makes the Echo Show 8 a perfect second television for rooms where we do not want – or cannot – place a TV. For example, it is ideal for a bedroom or kitchen. In my case, I have placed it on the counter and it is perfect to have it playing series like La que se looming,  The Office or YouTube videos (application not included) while we are cooking.

In this sense, the camera that is used to make video calls is also interesting, which can be convenient for having conversations with family and friends who have the Alexa app or an Echo device with a screen. The good thing about the camera, in addition to its new location, is that it has 13 megapixels automatic framing and noise reduction technology, so we can be in the conversation while we are doing something else. The bad? that we miss Amazon’s greater openness to more third-party applications to get true performance out of a very useful function.

Precisely in that connection with those most loved, the new Echo Show 8 continues to integrate very well into the home thanks to being able to use it as a digital photo frame through Amazon albums. We can thus have photos of our loved ones when we are not using it, with the addition of adjusting the brightness and color according to the ambient light.

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I buy it?

The new Echo Show 8 is a renovation in style. At first glance it seems continuous, but the moment you start trying it you realize that the progress in the user experience is much greater. The use of the screen improves considerably, but the sound quality marks a before and after in the company’s speakers of this size. The commitment to spatial audio is a success for anyone looking for a small speaker capable of filling a room.

Beyond the experience when consuming content, the other strong point of this speaker is its ability to become the center of the digital home. Its new compatibilities make it the perfect core to be the place where all the devices in the home converge. 

The big problem with this equipment is its price. The 169.99 euros, 139.99 euros on Black Friday , can be a great investment for someone who aspires to have a cute speaker with a screen at home that can serve as an alarm clock or to manage some more basic Alexa commands. The new Echo Show 8 is ambitious, aspires to the maximum and its price is accordingly. Whoever does not need something so advanced, within the Amazon ecosystem, has time to go to Show 5 , or even take advantage of the offers these days to get some of the Show 8 of the last generation , whose prices are between 55 and 70 euros, respectively. In both cases you will lose screen quality, sound and less home control, but it can cover your most basic needs of ordering commands to Alexa and playing music in smaller rooms without so much detail.

In short, the Echo Show 8 is an outstanding speaker and with it Amazon hits the table on what a speaker with a screen should be. Still, it’s not perfect. Some third-party applications are missing—especially in video and calls—to be able to get the most out of a high-performance device.