Amazon Echo Show 2021: Which smart display should you buy?
You may know that there are three smart screen devices currently being sold by Amazon, but do you know which is the best Amazon Echo Show? With so many showy Echo devices, which one should you get? We’ll talk you through each option to help you decide which is right for your home, although right now we recommend the Echo Show 8 above the others because of its perfectly accommodating size.
Best Amazon Echo Show Overall: Echo Show 8
Source: Android Central
The Echo Show 8 is currently the newest product in the Echo Show line, and as such, it takes some of the best features from the high and low ends. For example, it is in-between the smaller size of the Show 5 and the arguably unwieldy size of the Show (2nd Gen). It improves upon the sound quality of the smaller Show 5 with double the number of speakers (two 2-inch speakers at 10W per channel vs. one 1.7-inch speaker at 4W per channel). Plus, it has the same 1280×800 display as the larger Show (2nd Gen) for a higher ratio of pixels per inch.
The Echo Show 8 continues to build on Amazon’s renewed interest in consumer privacy. It features a built-in camera shutter and a microphone/camera off button that allows users to physically confirm the device is not watching or listening to them. It also keeps the on-screen Privacy Hub controls that the Echo Show 5 introduced.
The Show 8 doesn’t ship with the Zigbee hub integration that the larger Show (2nd Gen) includes. However, setting up and controlling your smart home devices with the Show 8 should be a breeze thanks to Amazon’s Certified for Humans program. This program promises to introduce “struggle-free, tinker-free, and stress-free” devices that pair quickly and easily with Alexa and Echo products.
There are some tradeoffs with this device, however. Like the smaller Show 5, you only get a 1-megapixel front-facing camera, which isn’t great for video chatting. While the audio is a step up from the Show 5, it still doesn’t feature Dolby processing, which the 2nd Gen has. Despite these tradeoffs, we think this will be the perfect Echo Show device for most people.
- Sits in the Goldilocks zone of Echo Show devices
- Physical cover/off switch for microphones and camera
- Similar specs to 2nd Gen but cheaper
- Great sound quality
- No Dolby processing built-in
- Camera is not as good as 2nd Gen
Best Amazon Echo Show Overall
The Goldilocks zone
The Echo Show 8 comes in a more natural size that’s easier to place than the Echo Show (2nd Gen).
Best Value Amazon Echo Show: Echo Show 5
Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central
When it was introduced in early 2019, the Echo Show 5 was praised by customers and reviewers alike because it put an Alexa-enabled smart display into a more affordable and more convenient package. The Echo Spot had previously filled this niche, and while the Spot was beloved, it didn’t have great specs and was priced too high.
The Echo Show 5 was the first of the new generation of smart screen devices to include physical covers and switches to control what Alexa could see and hear, which eased many concerns about having Alexa in more sensitive areas of the home. Like the Show 8, the Show 5 lacks the Zigbee hub integration that can be found in the Echo Show (2nd Gen); however, it’s looking like smart device interoperability, and setup will continue to get easier thanks to the aforementioned Certified for Humans program.
The Show 5 is almost in that price range where many people will take a chance on an impulse buy, and it has already appeared at a substantial discount several times. Amazon has already packaged it in several different bundles to date, including a bundle with the Show 8.
As great as this little device is, it’s not all roses. At the same time, you do get a device that can fit just about anywhere, that comes at the expense of a lower screen resolution and sole speaker. It’s also not the best device for video chatting, as it packs a measly 1-megapixel camera on the front.
- Perfect size for smaller spaces
- Physical cover/off switch for microphones and camera
- Great price, and can often be found in bundles
- Low-resolution screen
- Sub-par camera
- Smallest speakers on Shows
Best Value Amazon Echo Show
An awesome, affordable Alexa display
The Show 5 is the most affordable Alexa display available. It fits nicely on a table and features a physical camera cover.
Best Amazon Echo Show for Entertainment: Echo Show (2nd Gen)
Source: Android Central
Amazon introduced the first-generation Echo Show in 2017, and while many applauded the smart screen capabilities of the device, the biggest complaint was its physical design. The product was stark with sharp lines and a boxy look, and its display was set at a weird angle. Amazon addressed nearly all of the initial design complaints with the second generation, making it a softer, more plush-looking smart display.
Like its predecessor, the second-generation product includes a Zigbee hub for improved smart home device integration. However, this hardware feature’s need seems like it will be mitigated by the new Certified for Humans program that Amazon is rolling out.
The Echo Show (2nd Gen) is great for watching videos or listening to music since it features the best combination of speakers and screen technology in the entire product line. You can tell that Amazon wanted the device to be featured prominently in people’s homes since it also added the best front-facing camera of all the Echo devices for those all-important drop-in sessions with grandma.
Not everything is perfect with this device, however. Its size may present a problem for some spaces, and it does not feature any physical controls for disabling the camera. It is also the oldest device in the Show lineup, so it is probably due for a refresh at some point in the not-too-distant future. However, if you have the counter space, and/or if you only plan on getting one smart screen for your house, this is the one to get.
Note: In the fall of 2020, Amazon announced the successor to the Echo Show (2nd Gen) in the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen). The release of this new device had been delayed for several months, but it is now available for pre-order and will begin shipping to customers in late February 2021. As soon as we have a chance to review the device, we will update this article accordingly.
- Stunning HD display
- Available with free Echo Flex and Hue smart bulb
- Better sound than smaller devices
- Zigbee smart hub built-in
- Most expensive Echo by far
- No physical camera cover
- Size may be too big
- New model incoming
Best Amazon Echo Show for Entertainment
More to show off
This largest Echo Show offers the best viewing and audio experience, but it comes at a price.
Best Amazon Echo Show Alternative: Fire HD 8 Plus with Wireless Charging Dock
Okay, so this one is cheating a little bit, as the Fire HD 8 Plus isn’t technically an Echo Show device. It’s also not technically available as of this writing, as it’s a new product set to release in early June 2020. However, when you consider the whole package this setup offers, it just might be the most practical Echo Show alternative for Amazon Alexa households.
The Fire HD 8 Plus is Amazon’s latest and greatest tablet, with its best screen, battery life, wireless charging, and increased RAM. You can do all the tablet-y things that you can do on other tablets, such as read books and comics, watch all manner of video content, play games, and even have video calls through Zoom and Skype.
When paired with the new wireless charging dock (or other stands), you can set the Fire HD 8 to Show Mode, where the tablet becomes a de-facto Echo Show smart speaker. With hands-free Alexa, you can control your smart home and get information at a glance, even from across a room.
While this setup gets you more flexibility than a traditional Echo Show device, that comes at a little bit of a premium. With the charging stand, this is priced competitively with the Echo Show 8, well-under the Echo Show (2nd Gen) but significantly above the Echo Show 5.
- Can be a two-in-one device
- Tablet has more functionality than regular Show display
- Bigger screen and better resolution than Show displays
- Tablet by itself is as expensive as Echo Show 8
- Wireless charging dock separate
Best Amazon Echo Show Alternative
A multifunctional show
The Fire HD 8 Plus is a great device, but when paired with a stand in Show Mode, you also get the benefits of a Show device.
Amazon realized it was onto something when it created the first Echo Show device and the Echo Spot, and each subsequent generation and product in the line has improved where it counts. There is now an Echo Show to fit just about any space and budget, and the quality of the microphones, speakers, and screens continues to improve. For our money, the Echo Show 8 is the best choice for most people because it makes the right tradeoffs when it comes to size, specs, and price.
That being said, the smaller Echo Show 5 and larger Echo Show (2nd Gen) are great products in their own right. Many people may consider getting one of the larger devices for the main room in their home and putting an Echo Show 5 or Echo Spot in an office or bedroom. Amazon has recognized this potential use case and is even offering a pretty compelling bundle right now, with the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 5 being packaged together for less than an Echo Show (2nd Gen)!
If you are already in the Amazon Echo-system, then you’ll love these devices. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge, then any one of these smart screens present a great place to start to get one of the best Alexa speakers available.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jeramy Johnson is proud to help to Keep Austin Weird and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he’s not writing about smart home products and services, he’s defending his relationship with his voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.
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