One of the biggest announcements at today’s AI-filled Amazon event is the all-new Echo Show 8. The company has refreshed the design with edge-to-edge glass up front and softer curves for a more refined look overall. While the aesthetics have changed for the better, most of the interesting stuff is on the inside. That includes updated internals to enable faster responses from Alexa and Adaptive Content based on your proximity to the device.
Amazon has also outfitted the new Echo Show 8 with spatial audio and room calibration, specifically citing improvements to clarity and bass. In Amazon’s busy demo area, I wasn’t able to experience this first hand, but even a marginal upgrade over previous Amazon smart displays would be a welcome change. I also wasn’t able to test the quicker Alexa experience due to the noise in the room, but the company says a new processor handles those requests on-device. This should lead to 40 percent faster responses to Alexa commands and queries.
There’s also an upgraded 13-megapixel camera up front and microphones that are better equipped to cut down background noise. Up top, meanwhile, volume controls and the ability to disable both the camera and the microphone are dedicated buttons along the edge of the device.
The main feature I was able to try today is the Adaptive Content. Arguably one of the biggest changes to the Echo Show 8, this feature changes what’s on the display based on how far you are away from it. So when you’re sitting across the room, the device will show you time and weather info, or even a short news headline, that’s large enough to be read from a distance. Move closer and content becomes more detailed and personalized, surfacing a playlist or additional news articles.
While this was tough to accurately test in a crowded space, I still got an overall sense for how it works and how the UI changes. Indeed, the proximity tweaks will make the device more useful and informative without you touching it, and showing you stuff you’ll actually want to see. Plus, the Echo Show 8 can pull up shortcuts to your most-used widgets for faster access.
Amazon says the Adaptive Content feature will be available on second- and third-gen Echo Show 8 next month. It’s coming to other Echo Show devices later this year. The third-gen model costs $150 and starting shipping next month.
Follow all of the news live from Amazon’s 2023 Devices event right here.