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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen, 2023) review: Better than ever, but with a price to match

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £150
inc VAT

The Echo Show 8 is another great smart screen, but the £30 price increase makes it harder to justify


  • Solid sound
  • Smart software tweaks
  • Feels a lot speedier


  • Limited video options
  • Price hike makes the 2nd gen more appealing

Earlier this year, Amazon launched a souped-up version of its smallest smart screen, the Echo Show 5. Now it’s the 8in Echo Show 8’s turn, which gets a similar selection of welcome enhancements, alongside a similarly unwelcome price increase.

That presents a particularly tricky question: does it justify its inflated price, or are you better off getting a now cheaper second-generation Echo Show 8?

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) review: What do you get for the money?

As per usual, Amazon is all about the small but welcome incremental upgrades. Unfortunately, that comes with a £30 price hike this time around, with the new third-gen Echo Show 8 hitting the £150 mark – though you can expect the usual deep discounts around Prime Day and Black Friday, of course.

Nonetheless, the upgrades here feel a touch stingy considering the 25% price increase. For starters, there’s a new, curvier and more premium design, with an all-glass covering and a more sensibly placed webcam, which now sits in the middle, rather than askew to the right.

More important changes have taken place on the inside. Not only does it now operate as a home hub for smart home devices compatible with Zigbee, Matter and Thread, but it’s got more processing and audio grunt as well.

For the former, it has an octa-core chipset with Amazon AZ2 Neural Network Engine that the company says is 40% faster than its predecessor. For the latter, you can expect “improved sound with spatial audio, room acoustic sensing and noise-reduction technology”.

Amazon’s main competition comes from itself – and not just the temptingly priced previous-gen model. There’s also the £90 Echo Show 5, the £260 Echo Show 10 and the £300 Echo Show 15.

If you prefer your smart home brains to be powered by Google Assistant, then there’s the £90 Nest Hub or the newly released £599 Google Pixel Tablet, which comes with a dock to moonlight as a smart screen.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) review: What do we like?

The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” usually applies to Amazon products, and the same is true here. It’s still a quality smart screen, especially if you find yourself embedded in the Amazon ecosystem with a Prime subscription to enjoy all the goodies that Prime Video has to offer.

The 8in touchscreen is unchanged with its 1,280 x 800 resolution, which is still perfectly adequate for its size, but it now has a few additional features to make it more usable at both close range and at a distance. The Adaptive Content feature means that it can tell when you’re close or far away, offering big type and icons when distant, and providing more details when you get up close and personal. It’s sometimes subtle – so much so that I wasn’t sure it was working at first – but it’s a thoughtful improvement.

When you get close, you’ll also see that Amazon has made the Echo Show 8 a bit more friendly to touch controls, with a new set of easy-access widgets along the top. These are customisable, though you’ll have to kick out the pre-selected Amazon ones first: Music, Shopping List, Smart Home, Top Connections and Widget Gallery. The last of these is for shopping for new ones, and while it feels a bit limited now – do you really need to play 100k Drop so urgently that it requires a quick-start widget? – it will hopefully populate with more useful options as time goes by.

It’s no coincidence that Smart Home is one of Amazon’s pre-chosen shortcuts, and the Echo Show 8 has a couple of new tricks here, too. The first is that it has a built-in Zigbee hub, like the Echo Show 10 and select Echo Speakers, making it easier to control compatible smart plugs and bulbs without additional hardware.

The second is that you can use the webcam as a security camera if you choose. I don’t want to oversell this feature as it’s pretty limited – it only offers a live view in the app with no movement notifications or recordings – but it’s nice for Amazon to have given the camera an additional use all the same.

The speaker upgrade is also welcome, but it still doesn’t make the Echo Show 8 a world-beating audio player. It’s perfectly serviceable, but gets a bit muddy on complicated tracks, with a tendency to distort as the volume gets higher.

As for Spatial Audio, well, it might be there but I can’t say it’s particularly noticeable. Perhaps that’s not surprising when the speakers are physically close together. Personally, I think that’s fine: the Echo Show is never going to be your main music player, and what it offers is more than enough for most people’s use cases.

Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) review: What could it do better?

The trouble with Amazon’s “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage is that it seems equally reticent to fix things which are, if not broken, then deeply annoying.

The biggy for me is video content. Maybe I’m unusual in this respect, but I like having a Nest Hub in my kitchen because if I’m tidying or doing the washing up, I can Chromecast pretty much anything I like, with Plex and Disney+ being my main favourites.

The Echo Show is understandably built around Prime Video, with a concession of having both YouTube and Netflix included as well (the latter was missing from the Show 5, so this is a win). But if you want anything else, you’re going to have to try to use the not especially user-friendly Silk web browser.

Beyond that, it’s to Amazon’s credit that we’re talking minor niggles rather than reasons not to buy. In some ways, it does feel like smart screens are waiting for a compelling reason to exist alongside smart speakers given the screen part is often underused, but that’s an industry-wide problem.

And while I personally don’t find Alexa as intelligent as Google Assistant, I’m perfectly happy to accept that’s a personal preference thing.

No, the big sticking point is the price. A £30 increase represents a 25% price rise, and I don’t believe that the improvements – thoughtful as they are – add up to that kind of hike. No doubt things have become more expensive for Amazon, but given the improvements are relatively minor, I’d struggle to recommend anybody choose this over a discounted second-generation Show 8.

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Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) review: Should you buy one?

The Echo Show 8 is another excellent smart screen from Amazon. The improvements are all welcome, from the software tweaks that make it more useful at different distances to the faster processor that eliminates lag. The fact that it now works as a smart hub is also welcome and should make setting up a smart home a bit easier for newcomers.

I’d have liked Amazon to have gone further in making it play nicely with third-party video apps, but it takes two to tango and I can accept that my main reason for preferring a Google Nest Hub is not entirely Amazon’s fault, and is also a problem that most people will shrug about.

But one thing they shouldn’t shrug off is the price increase. The extra £30 feels significant for a device that doesn’t bring that much more to the table, and hitting the £150 mark is also a bit of a psychological bar for me. That’s well beyond impulse purchase territory and makes you ask questions like “do I really need a smart screen?” An answer which, at present, is closer to a no than a yes. It’s the very definition of a luxury item.

If you’re desperate for a smart screen today, then, I would recommend saving a few quid and going for the last generation. If you can wait a few weeks, put a calendar reminder in your diary and pick one up on Black Friday. If it’s not substantially reduced, I’ll eat my Ring Doorbell.

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