Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Echo Show 8 (1st Gen) vs. Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)

Smart displays are one of the most efficient and feature-laden ways to operate your smart home. Today’s top displays do everything from offer help in the kitchen, provide answers to your most commonly asked questions, connect you to the news of the days, play your favorite music and podcasts, and more. In the competitive marketplace, Amazon is one of many smart display developers, reigning strong with its Alexa-powered Echo Show displays. While the Echo Show 8 and 5 have been around for some time, two new versions of both smart displays have recently hit digital and brick-and-mortar shelves.

If you’re thinking of picking up a new Echo Show 8 or are considering an upgrade to your first-gen Show 8, let us weigh in to help with your decision. In this side-by-side, we’ll be pitting the second-gen Echo Show 8 against the first-gen, examining criteria like design, camera, features, and price. Read on to see which display is right for you.

Design

Amazon Echo Show 8 2021 pan and zoom camera
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The latest Echo Show 8 and the O.G. 2019 version are nearly identical in their designs. Both displays are 7.9 inches wide, 5.4 inches tall, 3.9 inches deep, and equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen. Lightweight, both units weigh only 36.6 ounces.

In terms of color options, there are only two to choose from: Glacier white and Charcoal. While we weren’t expecting a rainbow of color options, it would have been nice for the second-gen to up the ante by delivering at least two more casing hues.

Both gens feature a power port on the mesh-covered rear of the display, along with a camera cover switch, volume buttons, and a microphone on/off toggle. Unfortunately, Amazon decided to remove the rear auxiliary port found on the first-gen model from the second-gen iteration. While the display itself does a decent job when it comes to audio performance, the ability to wire in an external speaker or headphones is always nice to have.

If you’re environmentally conscious, the second-gen Show 8 does offer a leg-up in terms of overall materials as both the display itself and the box packaging are made of recycled plastics, fabrics, die-cast aluminum, and wood fibers for the packaging.

We’ll give this category to the first-gen Show 8, but mostly because we’re sore about the loss of that treasured 3.5mm jack.

Winner: Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)

Camera

Amazon Echo Show 8 2021 camera closeup
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The onboard camera is one of the major differences between both generations of the Echo Show 8. The second-gen iteration received a mighty boost in megapixels, clocking in at 13MP total, which is right on par with the all-new Echo Show 10. Compare that to the first-gen Show 8’s 1MP lens. Additionally (like the Echo Show 10), the second-gen Show 8 incorporates pan and tilt functionality, automatically keeping you in frame as you wander around the room — an excellent feature for Drop In video calls (more on that below).

While the first-gen Show 8 delivers decent camera quality it’s simply no match for the level of detail you’ll get with the second-gen’s 13MP lens. Thus, we award the second-gen again.

Winner: Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)

Features

While the fundamental features of both displays are essentially the same, the second-gen Show 8 does receive a boost in overall performance. Running an eight-core MediaTek 8183 processor (compared to the first-gen’s four-core MediaTek 8163), users can expect a speedier touchscreen, quicker voice assistant responses, and greater app performance.

Besides the processor, the bread-and-butter tech is all the same. You can use Alexa, both at home and on the go, to control the smart home devices in your home (cameras, lights, locks, etc.). You can also use the voice assistant to create and manage your calendar schedule, play games, and create Alexa Routines that do everything from turn your smart lights on when you arrive home to automatically engaging your smart lock when you leave for work in the morning.

Want to stream a movie while you’re cooking dinner? Both gens of the Show 8 support a number of popular streaming apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and top-tier music services like Apple Music and Spotify.

One of the greatest features of Echo Shows is the ability to make Drop In video and audio calls with friends and family. For Drop In to work, your loved one will also need a Drop In-capable device, such as an Echo Show or Echo speaker. Once they’ve approved you as a Drop In contact you’ll be able to “drop in” for a video chat (with an Echo Show) or audio-only conversation (other compatible Alexa speakers).

With no standout features to set either generation of Show apart, we’re calling this one a draw.

Winner: Tie

Price and warranty

The second-gen Echo Show 8 currently sells for $129 and comes with a one-year limited warranty. The first-gen Show 8 can still be purchased new for $109 and comes with the same warranty. In terms of overall value, it may be enticing to save $20 at checkout by going with the first-gen model, but we’d actually recommend throwing in that extra big bill for the second-gen.

For just a little more, you’re getting a drastically improved camera, faster processor, and a host of other small tweaks that will undoubtedly make for a better smart display experience overall.

Winner: Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)

The verdict

Amazon Echo Show 8 2021 front view
John Velasco / Digital Trends

When it comes down to the wire, our choice between both models is an easy one to make: the second-gen Show 8. While we’re not pleased with the loss of the 3.5mm output, there are simply too many other major tech improvements to even begin to pretend the first-gen Show is a better choice. Another four processor cores mean faster performance in a variety of ways, and the 13MP camera means improved video calling and real-time smart security footage (think video doorbells and property cameras). Not to mention it’s only another $20 than the previous gen.

Packaging all of this together, we’re giving the mightiest laurel of all to the second-gen Echo Show 8.

Winner: Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen)

Editors' Recommendations