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Amazon Echo Show 8 vs. Google Nest Hub

Amazon is directly challenging Google's best smart display with a similarly sized, similarly priced model. Here's how the two devices stack up.

Since it launched in 2018 as the Google Home Hub, what's now Google's Nest Hub has offered the best balance of usability and smarts for the price of any smart display on the market. But Amazon's Echo Show 8 is the first Alexa-powered display to directly compete with the Nest Hub's size and price point. Not only do both sell for $130 (not to mention occasional discounts), but they also feature similar screen sizes, digital assistants and kitchen-focused cooking assistance.

When we reviewed the Nest Hub, we lauded its convenient smart home controls, adaptive brightness, cooking help and voice assistance. It was well ahead of Amazon's smart displays when it came out. But this is 2020, and the smart display landscape is changing. 

Read more: Best smart displays for 2020  

The Show 8 raised the bar for Amazon's smart displays, offering a more responsive operating system than previous displays and more kitchen-oriented services. Plus, it has a camera, which adds the potential of video chatting that Nest Hubs simply don't have.

So let's put these two displays head-to-head and see which one you should put on your countertop.

Chris Monroe/CNET

All popular smart displays since the very first Amazon Echo Show combine the voice-enabled assistant of a smart speaker with a touchscreen display for watching videos, scrolling through pictures, making video calls and so on. The Show 8 keeps this core intact, as well as the improvements to the formula that Amazon has made with each subsequent iteration.

The first Echo Show didn't have any touch controls for smart home devices. The Show 8 has a full control panel you can access with a swipe so you can quickly find and manipulate any of your compatible gadgets. The first Echo Show didn't have a physical shutter to cover the camera. The Show 8 does. It has a full web browser built in so you can access any site your heart desires. The Nest Hub still doesn't offer that.

Google's smart displays have long been better as kitchen assistants than Amazon's. Going through a recipe on a Nest Hub is seamless and intuitive. You can also multitask while you work. The Show 8 looks to challenge that supremacy through Amazon's new integration with Food Network TV. 

Food Network Kitchen is a subscription service you can access on the Show 8 for $40 per year. You can watch live and on-demand episodes from Food Network TV, save recipes from the episodes and ask questions about the recipes as you work. If you forget how much thyme to add, just ask Amazon's voice assistant Alexa, and it will pull the info from the Food Network episode and respond.

Perhaps most important of all, the Echo Show 8 has a camera for video chatting. This is a feature totally absent from the Nest Hub, and it's a notable absence. If privacy is a concern for you, the Show 8 also has a physical shutter. Read more about the Amazon Echo Show 8.

Chris Monroe/CNET

While Amazon has made strides with its own native cooking guides, Google still has the edge.

The Nest Hub has held the crown as the best smart display for a while, and it won't relinquish it easily. The Show 8's smart home control panel is intuitive and easy to use, but the Nest Hub has a similar control panel with slightly better organization. 

All smart displays can scroll through your personal pics as a screensaver, but the Nest Hub features light sensors that adapt both the brightness and the color warmth of the pic based on the ambient light in the room. As a result, the Nest Hub makes your pictures look like physical photos in a frame. Amazon's newer smart displays have added better light sensors, but the Nest Hub still holds the crown here, too.

The Nest Hub shows you what it hears when you give a voice command, and in general its touch controls and user interface are accessible and painless to use. Check out the Google Nest Hub review.

The smart display category continues to grow. The Show 8 will help fill out your midrange options alongside the Nest Hub. If you want a more premium smart display with a bigger screen, check out the second-generation Amazon Echo Show or the Google Nest Hub Max. If you want something smaller for your bedroom, the Echo Show 5 and the Lenovo Smart Clock feature sunrise alarms -- the screen gets gradually brighter leading up to your alarm time to ease you out of your sleep. Check out our list of best smart displays for more on each of these options. 

As it stands, the Nest Hub and the Echo Show 8 are neck-and-neck in our book, but Google's Nest Hub has a slight edge overall. While the Show 8 has a camera for video chatting and a slightly larger and higher-resolution screen, the Nest Hub boasts the stronger voice assistant overall and better handling of photos with the ambient lighting feature. If you want to have video chats with friends or family via an Echo Show, then the Show 8 is a great option. But otherwise, the Nest Hub still reigns as the best smart display on the market -- albeit by a thinning margin.

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Originally published Sept. 26, 2019 and updated with new information.