Amazon Reveals New Generation of Echo Show Smart Displays
Amazon has unveiled the latest generation of Echo Show smart displays. The upgraded versions of the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 5 offer better hardware and features, though their appearance is largely unchanged from their predecessors. Amazon also introduced a completely new child-focused smart display, the chameleon-skinned Echo Show 5 Kids, to go with the Kids Edition of the Echo Dot smart speakers.
The new, $130 Echo Show 8 offers a variety of new tricks and the screen literally looks better thanks to the adaptive color function for automatically balancing color and brightness. That alone puts the smart display on par with the Google Nest Hub and Google Nest Hub Max. People using the display to make videos or talk to others will also appear to be in incredibly sharp focus relative to the first Echo Show 8, thanks to a leap in camera quality from 1 megapixel to 13 megapixels. Both the color adaptive function and the 13-megapixel camera were formerly only an option on the Echo Show 10.
The new Echo Show 8 does have a unique ability unavailable to its larger cousin, however. The camera can pan and zoom to track a user’s face, keeping them as centered and in focus as possible even if they are moving around the room. It’s a new trait for an Amazon smart display, though one familiar to Nest Hub Max and Facebook Portal users. The tracking is as close as the stationary Echo Show can get to mimicking the Echo Show 10’s swiveling display that can actually follow someone moving all the way around a room. At about half the cost of the $250 Echo Show 10, that might be just fine for some consumers.
For those Echo Show fans who prefer something even more compact and less expensive, the currently $85 new version of the Echo Show 5 is likely to be of interest. The camera doesn’t have the same panning and tracking function, and only doubled to two megapixels, but it still handles all of the same Alexa functions as the others in the line, while taking up less space. It also comes in a shade Amazon calls ‘deep sea blue’ should you prefer something that’s not black or white.
Blue is a minor color addition compared to the chameleon-patterned cover for the Echo Show 5 Kids, seen on the right. The first of its kind for Amazon, the $95 smart display has unique, custom clock faces and parental controls, allowing parents to shape the experience of using the smart display. Like its panda and tiger-colored smart speaker counterparts, the Echo Show 5 Kids comes with a year’s subscription to the educational and entertainment content of Amazon Kids+, including books, music, and games., which normally runs at $3 a month. Also of note is that the Kids version of the smart display includes a two-year warranty with free replacements if it breaks for any reason
“Customers love using Echo Show to stay in touch and in the past year have made nearly three times the number of video calls than the year prior,” Amazon Alexa senior vice president Tom Taylor said in a statement. “With these new Echo Show devices, we focused on communications—bringing a powerful camera and digital pan and zoom capabilities to the new Echo Show 8, upgrading the Echo Show 5 camera, and adding new AR effects to make video calls more fun and engaging.”