So, Amazon has released the second generation of their popular echo show 8 but is it worth upgrading? Or if you’re thinking about purchasing your first echo show, should you pay the extra for the latest model? Let’s take a look.
Let’s compare the new, with the old. Visually, they look exactly the same, the 2nd gen comes in the charcoal or white colour and its shape and size, all the same as the 1st gen. It’s the same 8” touchscreen display (with a slight tweak but ill touch on that later), the same dual 2” speakers, the same manual cover you can use to cover the camera and the same Alexa enabled features. The only thing that I can see that’s changed visually is Amazon has decided to remove the 3.5mm aux port to the rear, which you used to be able to use to connect up a second speaker.
So is this just a software update and amazon are trying to palm this off as a new product? Well, no, there is some substance to this upgrade.
The front facing camera has been upgraded from the original 1megapixel to 13megapixel. Amazon thinking 1 megapixel back in 2019 with the original was a bit bizarre to start with and although it worked, people are and were used to better. Not only has the camera got a worthy upgrade in hardware but so has the features. The camera will also digitally pan and zoom aswell, tracking you while you move, within reason, adding to the quality and flexibility of the video call. Dont get too excited though, the show 8 doesnt physically move itself when following, so its limited. You may have seen the show 10 actually rotate it’s body round when following a suspect. It’s like that but not as good and with no mechanical moving parts.
The processor has had an upgrade in speed. The new show now has an 8-core processor, instead of the original having just 4 cores. The show 8 actually now has the same processor as in the latest big brother show 10. If you’re wondering what the processor is, it’s the MediaTek MT 8183 and the 1st gen had the 8163 version.
I touched on it earlier but the screen has a slight upgrade too. It’s the same HD 8” touchscreen display with the 1280×800 resolution but the software behind it allows it to now be an adaptive screen. That means the colour and brightness will automatically adjust to suit the ambient lighting around it.
Some time ago, Amazon opened their doors to a few more third party companies, which is fantastic to see. Sky news has been added, global player, bbc good food and the most impressive for me and probably you guys too, Netflix. You can now log into your Netflix account on your echo show 8 and watch your favorite original Netflix series. This is a game changer for my kids. I usually have the show on the kitchen island, during the mornings they can watch something while eating their breakfast and now, they’ve got even more content to choose from as theyre not limited to just Prime video. This change is across the board and has or will be available on first gen devices too.
Other worthwhile mentions. Your echo show, 2nd gen, 5 or 8, can also be used as an internal security camera too, which you can connect to remotely and view what’s going on. Makes complete sense and if you think about it when placing your device, could catch people off guard, as people may look around for a security camera on the ceiling or shelf, but not think the show is one too. However, when using it, it wasn’t the best experience, there is a delay, it’s not a quick process and it flags up on the screen that someone is trying to live view from the camera, so if you see that, you can cancel or move out of sight. There is also motion activations now, which means you don’t need to talk to Alexa to get your routine going. For example, you could set a routine for Alexa to turn on the lights when it detects you getting out of bed in the morning.
Performance-wise, the upgrade in camera quality is very clear and if you make a lot of calls, you’ll love the improved quality. The digital tracking does work, it’s limited but it’s a wide-angle lens and there is some benefit to it. Audio performance was the same and visual performance was slightly better I feel. The adaptive screen did change as the sunlight came into the room, whereas the 1st gen just has brightness control. Control-wise, voice is still the key way of control your echo show. It’s not a tablet and although there are some options for sliding and controlling content, it’s limited and you’re meant to use voice. Sliding between the screen options appeared a little bit more snappy than the 1st gen but it’s still a little sluggish.
One final thing to mention, Amazon are doing this Climate Pledge Friendly stamp on some of their products now. An incentive to use recycled materials, using less energy to produce products and so on. The new show 8 uses 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastics, 100 percent post-consumer recycled fabric and 100 percent recycled die-cast aluminium. The packaging too is also far more environmentally friendly.
So should you upgrade? If you make a lot of videos, your friends and family have echo shows too, then yeah, I think you’ll benefit from the improved camera and the tracking. For anyone else, I think the 1st gen will keep you going for another year or two if you’ve already got one and if you haven’t, if you can pick the 1st gen up in a sale like prime day the other day, for say £50, that’s an absolute steal.