It can be exciting when a brand like Amazon drops new versions of its devices, but it can also be overwhelming to figure out which one is best for you (and if it’s worth paying more than its original version). After testing the second generations of both the Echo Show 5 and the Echo Show 8, I’ll walk you through what’s the same, what’s different, what they bring to the table compared to the first gen versions — and which one you should buy.
While these stationary devices don’t have the portability or functionality of an iPad or a Surface tablet, they work flawlessly with Alexa and serve as a smart home HQ to make your day-to-day life just a little bit more streamlined.
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While the 2nd gen Echo Show 5 is no longer available, the newest Echo Show 5(opens in a new tab) retails for $89.99. The Echo Show 8(opens in a new tab) has been phased out, but you can still get some versions of it for $129.99.
The most noticeable difference between the Echo Show 5 and the Echo Show 8 is, of course, their size. The Echo Show 5 has a 5.5-inch screen and 6 inch by 3 inch footprint, while the Echo Show 8 is significantly larger — boasting an 8-inch screen and an 8 inch by 4 inch footprint.
Echo Show 5 (2nd gen) is smaller and would work better in a bedroom or office.
Echo Show 8 (2nd gen) is significantly larger — best for a central house hub.
In my opinion, that makes the Echo Show 8 way better suited to be your family “hub” — located in a central location like the kitchen or dining room for crazy easy video calls with the grandparents using Alexa. All you have to do is add contacts you’d like to call in the Alexa app on your phone. However, it may not be a necessary purchase if you already have a tablet with great video functionality.
Regardless, the Echo Show 8 offers some other advantages for video calls in addition to its size, too.
On the other hand, the Echo Show 5 would be better in places where you want the device’s functionality, without it being front and center — like your desk or nightstand.
And if you’re a sucker for colorways, the Echo Show 8 only comes in the Glacier White and Charcoal color options. You can get more variety with the new Echo Show 5, which comes in Glacier White, Charcoal, and Deep Sea Blue. The Echo Show 5 Kids comes in Chameleon green.
Camera and video calling
The Echo Show 5 got a decent camera upgrade from its 1st gen version — increasing the megapixels from 1 to 2. However, it was a whole different ball game for the Echo Show 8. While the 1st gen Echo Show 8 offered a 1-MP camera, this revamped model comes equipped with a 13-MP camera.
The image is incredibly crisp, and alongside the larger screen make the Echo Show 8 the video call winner. But that’s not even the best part: The new Echo Show 8 features auto-framing functions that automatically pan and zoom the camera to keep it focused on the people in view of it.
Both devices also feature some handy connectivity features, like Intercom to page every Alexa device in the house (“We’re leaving in fifteen minutes, so be ready!”) and Drop In, which allows you to video chat with any connected Alexa device.
The Echo Show 8 can also join Zoom calls, while the Echo Show 5 can’t. To be totally honest, I could not get the Zoom call feature to work after several tries because none of the calls I joined had a dial-in number.
I’ll still say the Echo Show 8 wins on this one just because it’s theoretically possible, and I’m really hoping to be able to join Zoom calls from it soon to free up my laptop and extra monitor for in-meeting multi-tasking.
During the initial set-up, you can choose to make any Echo Show device a dedicated device for a kid. This gives you access to some expanded parental controls, which is great for older children, tweens, and teens that you still want to shield from some of the worst things the internet has to offer.
However, the Echo Show 5 Kids is the first and only Echo Show that’s bottom-to-top and side-to-side designed for kids. It features the fun Chameleon look (dinosaur scales, according to my 5-year-old), and comes with a free year of Amazon Kids (a $69 value for Prime members) — which offers curated books, games, and videos just for kids far beyond what’s available through a basic Prime membership. In addition, it comes with souped-up parental controls so you can tweak things even more.
Both the 2nd gen Echo Show 5 and the 2nd gen Echo Show 8 have some new Alexa abilities that their 1st gen counterparts don’t.
First up is the home monitoring function, where you can remotely access the camera on your device from the Alexa app just to check in on things. You’ll need a WiFi connection to do it, but I had no problems getting it to work. I can imagine it would be great to check in on pets, the babysitter, or just to take a peek at your home while on vacation to make sure everything is on the up-and-up.
Next is the addition of motion-enabled routines. This allows Alexa to detect when you enter or leave a room and use that activity to start a routine. Fair warning, this can open a can of worms re: privacy, but it also opens up some exciting possibilities for the smart home buff. You could have Alexa read your calendar when you walk into your office, or turn off all smart-enabled devices when there’s no motion detected in the living room — and those are just two simple ideas. With the addition of Alexa-enabled devices or smart plugs, your options open up even more. Amazon does offer ways to manage these settings if you’d like to delete recordings(opens in a new tab) or manage your data.
All of these devices feature all the same Alexa functionality you came to expect from the previous iteration of Echo Show devices.
Which one is better?
For only $45 more, the Echo Show 8(opens in a new tab) was the clear winner for me. Not only does it have a larger screen and a 13-MP camera with auto-framing (making it the absolute best for video calling), it also allows you to hop on Zoom meetings, if/when you can get that function to work properly.
If video calls and Zoom meetings aren’t your concern, then the Echo Show 5(opens in a new tab) is still a great choice — like the 2nd gen Echo Show 8, the new Echo Show 5 boasts many of the same expanded Alexa functions, like home monitoring and motion detection routines. And of course, if you want one that’s made for kids, then you’re gonna want to go with the groovy green Echo Show 5 Kids.
Overall, I’m a fan of both, but the Echo Show 8 came out on top for our home.