Amazon is revamping a handful of products in its Echo line: the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 5, plus it’s adding a Kids edition of the Echo Show 5. The big new feature on both models is the camera, but the upgrade is more impressive on the larger Echo Show 8. It now has the same 13-megapixel sensor found on the Echo Show 10. Rather than moving the screen around to point at you like the 10 does, the Echo Show 8 offers a wider, 110-degree field of view. Within that range, it does the pan and zoom trick to keep subjects centered in the frame.
To enable that trick and some other new software features, Amazon says there is a new “octa-core” processor in the Echo Show 8. Otherwise, it’s the same Echo Show 8 we reviewed in 2019, with dual speakers and a choice of either white or charcoal gray. It still retails for the same price, $ 129.99.
The other software tricks include using the camera to detect if a human has walked into the room and then putting that information into routines (like turning on the light). Amazon emphasizes that this is only an opt-in feature and that users will even have to manually enter a code during installation to make sure they really want to enable it. It also does its human shape detection locally.
Amazon also lets all Echo 8 and 5 devices enable Alexa security mode, so you can view the cameras remotely from your phone. Finally, the Echo Show 8 gets new AR effects for Amazon’s own video chat service, including ‘responses’ such as filling the screen with hearts or setting custom virtual backgrounds.
As for the smaller (and more popular) Echo Show 5, the upgrades are less impressive. The resolution of the camera doubles, from one megapixel to two. It will not have the ability to run tracking mode on the camera. However, the Echo Show 5 gets a permanent price drop; it is now $ 84.99. It comes in the same charcoal and white colors, but adds a new blue option.
If you want to spend $ 10 more, you can get a Kids edition of the Echo Show 5 with a wild print on the back of the fabric. That extra $ 10 also includes a year of Amazon Kids Plus services and a two-year warranty against any damage your child could do to the thing.
All three versions of the Echo Show should be available to order immediately, but shipping can take several weeks – even Amazon isn’t completely immune to chip shortages, it seems. As for fans of the Echo Spot sphere, it won’t see any updates today and in all likelihood isn’t making a comeback – Amazon tells us that most customers just chose the Echo Show 5.