Hands-on with the third-gen Echo Show 8 smart display

And Echo Show 8 makes three! Amazon now has three smart home hubs, with the Echo Show 8 (third-gen) joining the newly announced Echo Hub and existing fourth-gen Echo smart speaker in sporting both Thread and Zigbee connectivity. These wireless radios, along with Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, and Sidewalk, mean the new Show 8 can be used to set up and control almost any smart home device (sorry, Z-Wave).

This also rounds out Amazon’s Echo options that fully support the new smart home standard Matter (over both Thread and Wi-Fi) quite nicely, although one at a lower price point than $100 would be good.

The third-gen Echo Show 8 ($149.99) also has Amazon’s latest AZ2 processor, which makes it 40 percent faster, Amazon’s Dave Limp said at the fall hardware event this week. And it certainly felt snappier in my minute or so of playing with it in the demo room at Amazon’s new HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia.

The smart display also sports a new look, with edge-to-edge glass and a more bulbous rear speaker that promises better audio. It’s getting spatial audio processing technology to boost its music capabilities, which will be similar to the Echo Studio’s sound capabilities, Heather Zorn, VP of Alexa, told me.

The camera is now centered, and there are new quick-access buttons that appear as you get closer to the screen. Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

New room adaption tech also “senses the acoustics of the room and fine-tunes playback for optimal sound,” according to Amazon’s blog post. However, we weren’t able to put this to any test in the demo room.

The camera (still 13 megapixels) has been relocated to the middle (why did it take so long?), which should make it more usable for Zoom calls, something the current version does relatively well for a smart display. The camera also enables a neat new feature called Adaptive Content, which changes how it displays content based on how close you are. This should make it a better glanceable display and more effective as a touch screen, as it presents a more touch-friendly UI as you get up close.

The Echo Show 8 has a redesigned rear. Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

New quick-access buttons on the homescreen will help with this, too. They’re like mini versions of the Echo Show 15’s widgets, bringing up the weather and other info with one tap. The widgets didn’t seem to be fully optimized for the display yet, though, looking a bit like iPhone apps on an iPad screen.



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