Need a smart digital assistant with a screen? There is now an option for every size need, budget and task. The latest is Amazon Echo Show 8. If you checked out my review of the smaller Echo Show 5 or larger Echo Show 10 recently, you’ll know that this is the middle child to both of those other devices.
Review: Amazon Echo Show 8
The Echo Show 8 has a 8” HD screen with 1280 x 800 resolution – that’s the same resolution as the 10 but better than the 5, if you’re keeping score. This size is perfect for kitchen or bathroom, or bedside
This device also adds a privacy shutter on the front-facing camera so you’re in control of it at all times.
Why would I need a screen on my Amazon Echo device?
So… Why add a screen? It not only livens up the device with colourful screensavers, and a time and info display, but it also lets you watch videos too from places like Amazon Prime and YouTube. You can also make video calls, check your video doorbell or security cameras and watch Canadian newscasts.
At times like these when we’re all trying to stay connected virtually, it also gives you an easy and convenient way to video chat with other family and friends who also have an Alexa video-enabled device.
How does Amazon Echo Show sound?
Amazon Echo Show 8’s speaker, is pretty good sounding. Each of it’s two internal speakers has 10W per channel of power….that’s the same as the 10, but minus Dolby processing. Even so, you’re not really trading off audio power for a smaller size at all. The sound is clear and good and the bass is surprisingly strong too.
Setting up Amazon Echo Show 8
Set up for one of the Amazon Echo show devices with video screen is a bit different than a traditional screenless Echo device. You will do the bulk of the set up on the device, using the responsive touchscreen. (In fact, when I tried to use the app to search for the device and set it up using the app, it would not even find the Show, though once set up is complete it will be visible in the app to adjust settings and manage devices.)
Here’s how to do it:
Let the Show 8 power up. You’ll choose your location and language, then connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network.
You’ll need to enter your Amazon account information on the screen. Follow the step-by-step instructions to complete the rest of the process including choosing your time zone, location (for Amazon deliveries!) then you can also select where in your home the Show 8 will live, and what you want to call the device; like Office, Erin’s Room, Frank, etc.
How to turn off Amazon Echo ads and screen displays
The Echo Show 8 has a list of things it will display on screen. You can choose your screen saver and display options, but you can also now turn off some of the more annoying Amazon stock features like Birthdays, On this Day and the Alexa tips.To do it, tap on the screen when you see one of these, then tap the three little dots that appear beside the title. You can choose ‘Hide this Item’ or otherwise manage what you’ll be shown.
This is a nice option for customers as a lot of people felt very annoyed by being force-fed content, and pushes they deemed ‘ads’ by Amazon. With the changes, you’re more in control.
Using Amazon Echo Show 8: what can Alexa do?
So what’s it like using Amazon Echo Show on a day to day basis? I found myself using it in a few ways:
- setting times and alarms
- asking for a daily news briefing as I got ready in the morning
- watching videos on Amazon Prime while cooking
- asking Alexa for smart home control commands, like turning lights on and off
- viewing my Ring video doorbell cameras
While you’ll likely have your own core ways you use it, there’s plenty of other things you can do with the Show.
Watch videos on Amazon Prime Video using Show 8
You can ask Alexa to dial up your favourite Prime Video shows, like Bosch or vintage Unsolved Mysteries, by saying ‘Alexa, Open Prime Video.’ This lets you surf using the touch screen to see what’s there. You can also ask for a specific show, and Prime Video will dive right to it.
Check Ring cameras using Echo Show 8
If you’ve got a Ring Video Doorbell or Stick Up cam, you can pull up the feed just by asking. This assumes, of course, you’ve already linked your Ring account to Alexa.
If you have it’s as easy as saying, ‘Alexa, show me the front door’. If you need to get this skill connected, go to the Alexa app> Skills> and search Ring. You’ll need to sign into your account to link it, but once that’s done, you’ve got a camera feed!
There’s also a new function that lets you use the Echo Show 5 to talk to your Ring Video Doorbell. This saves you having to also open up the Ring app on your smartphone if you want to accept a package or shoo away a salesperson. To talk, just tap the microphone button which will appear on screen when you ask Alexa to call up the camera.
Use Show 8 as a video intercom
If you have two video-enabled Amazon devices, you can make video calls from room to room using Drop In.
By saying, ‘Alexa, drop in Echo Spot’, or Office, or Kitchen, or whatever you’ve called that camera, it will open a video link to the other device. You can also use Echo Show 8 to make calls to other people who have Echo devices, as long as they’ve enabled that on thier own Alexa app.
Use Audible for Audio Books
If you’d rather listen to a book than watch something, the Show can read audio books from audible.ca. it’s a bit of a process to get this all up and running, which I’ll save for a separate blog and video and blog, but it’s enough to know that once you are signed in to your Audible account you can just ask Alexa to play the title of the book and she’s all over it.
Try using daily Routines
You can choose a pre-set routine that will trigger all sorts of other commands. I enabled the start my day routine, which will give you a news update, weather forecast, share what’s on your calendar, and traffic updates when you say, “Alexa, Start my Day.”
Using the “Alexa, Goodnight” phrase, she’ll turn all your smart lights off and say something random, like “hope you had a great day”. Again, you need to enable this routine inside the Alexa app.
Overall thoughts on Amazon Echo Show 8
Overall, I’m still really liking the Echo Show experience.
The audio quality is great, and so it the video quality; but this small screen size isn’t your ideal viewing platform, in my opinion. If TV viewing will be a major use, do yourself a favour and upgrade to the larger 10” Show.
If you’re looking for a smart digital speaker than can do more and one that will fit in smaller spaces than the bigger Show, you’ll probably really like the Amazon Echo Show 8.
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