Not quite four months after it unveiled the Echo Show 5, Amazon has introduced a new model in its line of touchscreen-equipped smart speakers: the Echo Show 8. The device, which was displayed today at a launch event held at the company's headquarters in Seattle, will cost $130 (£120) and is available for preorder now.
The new Echo Show 8 features an 8-inch HD display and, like the Echo Show 5, a privacy shutter that's designed to cover the camera when it's not in use. It will ship in time "for the holidays," according to Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices and Services, who showed off the device from the stage.
Along with chef Bobby Flay, who showed up via an Echo Show 8 video call, Limp also announced Food Network Kitchen -- a new Alexa-powered subscription service for phones and tablets. Customers will be able to watch Food Network TV episodes, live and on-demand, on the Echo Show, and ask Alexa to save recipes and answer questions. The service will launch in October, but Amazon did not mention how much it would cost.
"I can be in any kitchen in the world, and I can teach anyone in the world how to cook," Flay said, adding that the service features "a gazillion" recipes. He later refined that number to "80,000."
Amazon's Echo Show lineup now includes three models -- the 10-inch Echo Show, the 5.5-inch Echo Show 5 and the new 8-inch model unveiled today. The miniature Echo Spot also remains in Amazon's lineup, despite having been rendered more or less obsolete by newer, less expensive and more fully featured models.
The company's continued experimentation with new formats and size options underscores the importance of these smart displays in its Echo lineup. Amazon wants its customers to use its touchscreens for voice shopping, watching videos and making video phone calls -- all in the service of making its devices, and Alexa, a more integral part of the day.
"Privacy is absolutely foundational to everything we do around Echo and Alexa," said Limp, before introducing the Echo Show 8, which, like the Show 5, features a privacy shutter. He detailed the company's efforts to increase privacy for its customers by building new measures into its hardware and software to give customers more control over their cameras and data. (It hasn't always worked out.)
The Echo Show, which was released in 2017, became the first Echo device with a touchscreen (though Alexa is also built into Amazon's tablets, too). The Show's boxy and bulky design and thick plastic border around its screen instantly made it look outdated in an age of thinner smartphones with nearly edge-to-edge displays.
Competing Google Assistant-powered smart displays were introduced at the 2018 CES show, then Google debuted the Nest Hub (originally called the Google Home Hub) that October, putting more pressure on Amazon to up its game.
Positioned as a more budget-friendly alternative to the $230 second-generation Echo Show, Amazon introduced the less-expensive, more-compact $90 Echo Show 5 in May. In the CNET review, Andrew Gebhart found it to be an all-around solid smart display, and particularly good alarm clock, that still couldn't quite match up with the more expensive, $130 Google Nest Hub.
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