Amazon updates the Echo Show 8 and 5 with better cameras

Amazon is refreshing 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 bigger Echo Show 8. It now has the same 13-megapixel sensor that you’ll find on the Echo Show 10. Instead of moving the screen around to point at you as the 10 does, the Echo Show 8 provides 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 power that trick and some other new software features, Amazon says there’s a new “octa-core” processor inside the Echo Show 8. Otherwise, it’s the same Echo Show 8 that we reviewed in 2019, with dual speakers and a choice of either white or charcoal gray. It still sells at 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 plugging that information into routines (like turning on the lights). Amazon emphasizes that this is an opt-in only feature and it even requires users to manually punch in a code during setup to ensure they really mean to turn it on. It also does its human shape detection locally.

Amazon will also let all Echo 8 and 5 devices turn on Alexa’s security mode, so you can remotely view the cameras from your phone. Finally, the Echo Show 8 is getting new AR effects for Amazon’s own video chat service, including “reactions” like 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 camera is doubling in resolution, from one megapixel to two. It won’t have the horsepower to do the follow mode on the camera. However, the Echo Show 5 is getting a permanent price drop; it’s 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 rear fabric. That extra $10 also includes a year of Amazon Kids Plus services and a two-year warranty against whatever damage your child can inflict on the thing.

All three versions of the Echo Show should be available for order immediately, but shipping could take a few weeks — even Amazon is not fully immune to chip shortages, it seems. As for fans of the Echo Spot orb, it’s not seeing any updates today and is in all likelihood not going to make a comeback — Amazon tells us that most customers just opted for the Echo Show 5 instead.