Out with its second generation, Amazon has made some small upgrades and updates on two of its Alexa-powered smart displays. The Echo Show 5 and Show 8 2nd gen both offer increases in camera resolution, though more updates will be noticeable on the larger screen. Be sure to hit the video below to take a peek at which one might best fit your needs.
Following our hands-on review of the Echo Show 5 from 2019, Amazon’s latest offer some small upgrades. In addition to these two sizes, the Echo Show also comes in a self-rotating 10.1-inch size, but at $250, it’s about twice the price of the Show 8, so we are focusing on the smaller offerings today.
Design-wise, it might be hard to tell the difference between the first-gen and the second-gen. They share the same wedge shape with a large touch screen on the front. Show 5 and 8 are available in charcoal and sandstone, and the Show 5 adds the Deep Sea Blue that we see here to the mix.
One big differentiating factor is, of course, the size of the screens. Depending on where you want to place them, the Show 5 would probably fit great as a nightstand, whereas the Show 8 might be too large. But, if you want to read recipes as you move around a kitchen — the Show 8 might be the better pick so you can see the screen easier. And with the camera follow feature, the Show 8 is better for video calls if you’re more animated.
What are the updates?
On the Echo Show 5 2nd gen, the list of updates is pretty slim. It has moved from a 1MP to a 2MP camera for video calls, but it shares the same processor as the previous generation. At $84, it’s $5 less than the previous generation when it was released.
More updates appear on Show 8, though. An impressive 13MP camera is great for video calls, and an updated processor makes it more responsive for calling up video feeds and processing your requests.
Echo Show 5 and 8 2nd Gen: Video
What can it do?
As an Alexa-enabled device with a touch screen, there is a lot that you can do with the Echo Show 5 and 8. They can be great for getting a head start on the day with weather and news, or you can ask for videos on how to prepare certain recipes and stay in touch with family and friends by making video calls.
There is a kid mode if you want to put on parental controls or limit the time of day usage.
How does it sound?
While neither Echo Show will blow away more dedicated audio devices, both sound perfectly acceptable for what they are. Bass is present but not overpowering. It can be kind of muddy when listening to some media, but overall, it was still easy to make out instruments and vocals when listening to the album Wildewoman by Lucius. It’s easy to pull up music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, or audiobooks from Audible.
How’s the picture?
The screen on both devices is plenty bright and sharp. They look great for displaying photos and watching media. Videos do look better on the larger Show 8 — mainly because the image is bigger and easier to see. With accounts connected, it’s easy to pull up your favorite shows from Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu. You can also pull up YouTube videos through the browser. While not as seamless as some other video services, it’s still totally usable.
With cameras being some of the main upgrades on both models, video calls are better, though there is a small difference with the Show 5. Moving from a 1MP to a 2MP camera, the Show 5 looks good but is easily shown up by its bigger brother.
With a 13MP camera, the Echo Show 8 has a wide picture that also has a follow mode for better close-ups. While it doesn’t rotate like the flagship Echo Show 10, by using software, the camera will zoom in on that wide 13MP image to follow the subject as it moves throughout the picture.
If you’re stationary at a desk, the Show 5 has a good-looking picture, but if you’re moving around a room or have a bigger group you want to get on camera, then the Show 8 will provide a better experience and adapt to what’s on camera.
Both sizes have a privacy shutter for the camera. This simple cover moves over the camera for more privacy and also disables the camera. When using the “drop-in” feature to view a video feed from your phone, if the privacy shutter is switched on, the app will show the camera as disabled.
With not many updates on the 2nd gen of the Show 5, if you’re on a budget, a certified refurbished older generation might be right up your alley at just $45. Or if you want the best, you’ll want to check out the Echo Show 10 3rd gen.
For more ideas on what you can do with Alexa, check out Simon’s Echo Dot Diary series.
But, both the Echo Show 5 2nd gen and the Show 8 2nd gen are great smart displays. The image quality is great, and the audio sounds good for what it is. If the main purpose of the Echo Show is to use it for video calls, then the 8 might be the best pick. But if you want some simple functionality while at your desk or nightstand, then the 5 might fit those needs and smaller spaces easier.
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