There isn’t an urban household we know of that doesn't rely on Amazon for their entertainment and (digital) companionship needs – big and small.
Alexa, in all its glory has also seeped into our lives after all, there’s nothing wrong with beauty when there’s brains beneath it, right?
With the launch of a new Echo Show device ever so often, it seems there’s an Amazon device to fit all budgets and comes in all sizes. While the smart speaker can be found in a whole lot of Indian households, the Echo Show 8 is yet another addition to the much-affordable range of smart speakers that up the hi-fi vibe of your home without going broke.
The Echo Show 8 is cheaper than the Echo Show (2nd gen), bigger and better than the Echo Show 5, and its 8-inch screen is perfect to deliver good sound, 1280x800 resolution video – works perfectly for video calls and some hasty Prime Video viewing in between cooking and cleaning sessions.
Design: An inflated Echo Show 5
Very obviously a larger version of the Show 5, the Echo Show 8 looks like a Bluetooth speaker with a screen for a face. The same face houses a beautiful, crystal clear 8-inch display within a chunky border that reminds one of a previous-generation tablet, but still as aesthetic as any other modern-day device in our lives and blends in perfectly with the rest. The bezels are forgiven, ‘coz the screen remains centrestage, just like it should.
Rounded edges, premium fabric cover over the speakers at the back, media in and out ports – it’s a complete package you’d be adding to your ever-growing Alexa family.
The 8-inch screen pretty much owns the front of the device, and that’s enough for the screen area to do justice to the 1280 x 800p resolution while watching a quick videorecipe on your mini hi-fi system or monitoring the kids through regular voice drop-ins on other connected Alexa devices.
Chat her up to explore more things you can do with your digital butler. She’s known to pick up instructions and commands from across the room, so whether the Show 8 is sitting pretty at your work desk acting as a digital clock, or your entertainment companion while doing the dishes in the absence of house help during these lockdown times – the wake word is all she needs to be all ears!
Features: Entertainment first
Of course you’ve changed all the lights of your house and opted for the smart ones! But when the star of the show is an 8-inch screen, smart home takes a new meaning altogether. For the most part, the Echo Show 8 is a pretty useful device as far as communication and entertainment go. A built-in camera also means you can make video calls, not only to another Show device, but the two-way conversations via the Alexa app are nice and clear. But the use of the screen for the purpose of communication is limited to that.
Ever since it’s arrival, it’s been easy to use it as a video device first, an assistant second. We’ve often found ourselves indulging in an episode of Paatal Lok or another film on Amazon Prime Video or a one-off show on Voot too while chopping up veggies for dinner or washing dishes, but never for over 20 minutes. Spotify support is the newest addition to the feather’s Alexa’s multi-talented hat.
Both in-built platforms play pretty decently on the stereo sound fired by the 2-inch (52 mm) Neodymium speakers at the back, a passive radiator for boosted bass, and Dolby processing alongside. Though not exactly ideal for video watching, if you were to watch it at a close distance, for a regular-sized room, its sound is good enough to envelop you, just like another portable speaker would. Even though the highs are a little too high and lows a bit too low on the Show 8, if your primary interaction with the device will be using your voice, this minor flaw can be forgiven.
The camera with a built-in shutter offers privacy protection, just like the Show 5. Use the slider to block off the camera and disable it, should you want to avoid the drop-in calls, even voice recordings. We know enough uses of the smart features and use them often in daily life too. But there’s one highly under-explored resource that any Echo device would want you to use more of – Alexa Skills. On to the next segment for this one...
Alexa: The Unsung Hero
Alexa is happiest serving you, and for that, you have to talk it up. Need to place a Prime order, say the right words. The kids ask you to tell a story, delegate it to your digital assistant. Need measurement conversions, want to add items to a shopping list, or set a timer so your perfect meal doesn't get charred? Just ask Alexa. You can even get recipes from Sanjeev Kapoor, in case you're short on ideas.
Alexa is learning new things all the time, and has access to thousands of different skills – but you might not know about the latest and greatest unless you ask her.
Some recipe skills even display the ingredients on the Echo Show 8 screen, which is handy, if you ask us. Especially while trying out a new recipe, the Echo Show 8 is best for seeing what you’re hearing. Alexa is nice and handy at answering queries and assisting you. She can answer random queries, tell you the weather, set timers, or tell a joke, but she can also help manage your various smart home devices via spoken commands.
Every so often, be sure to ask, "Alexa, what new features do you have?" She'll briefly describe the newest addition to her repertoire, which might give you a heads-up on some helpful new feature or amusing diversion to boost your experience. There’s free stories on Audible Suno, learn a new language, change your wallpaper, make announcements between devices, explore its use as a good meditation companion, bake with Alexa, spell with Alexa… the list of this faceless lady’s skills is endless.
Now if only she could come and write this review for us!
Amazon Echo Show Verdict
Amazon’s Echo devices need no more introduction than your old aunt does. Whether looking to add a new member to an existing Echo family, or let the Echo Show 8 be your first ever device – it won't disappoint. There are so many Echo devices to now choose from, but we assure that this 8-inch screen is just the right size for your kitchen counter. Neither as big as the 10-inch, nor as small as the Echo Show 5, it’s the perfect screen size for video calling, recipe viewing, and even stealing a few quick minutes of Panchayat on Prime Video while wrapping up the kitchen at night. The ongoing promotional price makes it an enticing offer, so if any kind of shopping is on the list, let the Echo Show 8 be on top of it, as long as you’re ready to welcome a highly addictive and reliable ecosystem or an addition to your Alexa-enabled smart home, you won’t be needing much convincing.