Amazon upgrades its Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8 smart displays
Having recently upgraded its Echo Show 10 smart display to add a rotating screen, now Amazon has refreshed its smaller Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 5 devices, giving you plenty of choice for your next smart display. A special Kids Edition of the smallest model has also been introduced.
If you're new to the series, those numbers refer to the screen sizes (diagonally, in inches), and these are the latest devices from a range that Amazon launched in 2017. You get all the Alexa-powered goodness of an Echo smart speaker, with an added screen for viewing photos, videos, calendar events, weather forecasts, sports scores and more.
This 2021 refresh of the 8-inch and 5.5-inch models doesn't bring with it a host of new features, with the main upgrades reserved for the forward-facing cameras: the Echo Show 8 gets a 13-MP camera while the Echo Show 5 is fitted with a 2-MP camera that apparently has double the pixels of the previous model.
Both displays borrow a feature from the new Amazon Echo Show 10 – the ability to look in on your home while you're away through the built-in cameras, effectively turning your smart displays into simple security cameras. If all this sounds a little invasive, there are physical privacy shutters in front of the lenses if needed.
The more powerful camera on the Echo Show 8 has another trick: it can digitally pan and zoom around the room (within certain limits) to make sure faces are always in view and centered during video calls, even if multiple people are in the frame. We saw something similar recently from Apple, with the Center Stage feature on the new iPad Pros.
Considering the global events of the past year, it's no surprise that Amazon is focusing on video calling improvements with the new Echo Show devices – your family and friends should be able to see you in even better resolution with the updated cameras. The Echo Show 8 also gets a faster internal processor and upgraded audio, while the Echo Show 5 is now available in a new Deep Sea Blue color besides the usual black and white.
There's also the Echo Show 5 Kids Edition, which goes for a more vibrant color scheme, and limits the sort of content that can be viewed and listened to on the device. There's a special customizable interface that youngsters can make their own, too.
Preorders are open for all these new smart displays now, with shipping scheduled for sometime next month. The Echo Show 8 will set you back US$129.99, the Echo Show 5 costs $84.99, and the Echo Show 5 Kids Edition goes for $94.99, with a free year of the Amazon Kids+ content bundle included (it's $2.99 a year after that, if you're a Prime member).