And Echo Show 8 makes three! Amazon now has three smart home hubs, with the Echo Show 8 (3rd generation) join the newly announced Echo Hub and the existing Fourth generation Echo smart speaker in having 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 pretty well rounds out Amazon’s Echo options that are fully compatible with the new Matter smart home standard (via Thread and Wi-Fi), although one priced under $100 would be nice.
The third-generation Echo Show 8 ($149.99) also has Amazon’s latest AZ2 processor, making it 40 percent faster, Amazon’s Dave Limp said at this week’s fall hardware event. And it certainly felt snappier the minute I was playing with it in the demo room at Amazon’s new HQ2 headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
The smart display also has 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 enhance its music capabilities, which will be similar to the Echo Studio’s sound capabilities, Alexa vice president Heather Zorn told me.
The new room adaptation technology also “detects room acoustics and fine-tunes playback for optimal sound,” according to Amazon Blog Post. However, we were not able to test this 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 cool new feature called Adaptive Content, which changes how it displays content depending on how close you are. This should make it a better viewable display and more effective as a touchscreen, as it presents a more tactile user interface as you get closer.
The new quick access buttons on the home screen will also help with this. They’re like mini versions of the Echo Show 15’s widgets, showing the weather and other information with a single tap. However, the widgets still didn’t seem to be fully optimized for the screen, and looked a bit like iPhone apps on an iPad screen.