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Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman
Clear and colorful touchscreen display
Good sound quality
Good microphone pickup
Built-in 1MP camera for video calls
Easily collects dust
Screen angle is non-adjustable
Screen is a little small for photos and videos
Fabric is difficult to clean
The Echo Show 5 is a smaller version of Amazon’s 10.1” Echo Show. While the larger Echo Show is better for displaying your photos or watching a video walk-through for that new recipe you’ve always wanted to try, the Echo Show 5 is an ideal size for a smart alarm clock.
The Echo Show 5 is a part of the newest generation of Amazon smart hubs and runs on the incredible power of the Alexa voice assistant. It makes a great smart alarm clock, competing with the likes of the Google Nest Hub and the strikingly similar Lenovo Smart Clock. We took a look at the Echo Show 5’s design and features to see how it fits in with the rest of Amazon’s line of Echo devices and whether or not it deserves a place on your nightstand.
The Echo Show 5 is a compact touch screen device measuring in at only 3.4 x 5.8 x 2.9 inches and 14.5 ounces. The 5.5” screen with 960 x 480 resolution is angled slightly back and has a front facing 1MP camera. The body is covered in the same fabric as the newest Echo Plus, Echo Sub and Echo Dot devices, and it’s a nice aesthetic upgrade from the simple plastic of previous generations.
Amazon’s new design for their Echo line makes all their devices, including the Echo Show 5, feel and look like they are higher quality. The materials and build seem to be fairly durable and the quality of the touch screen is great. Aesthetics make a big difference and we really like how the Echo Show 5 looks at home with our other decor.
Although Amazon is marketing the Echo Show 5 for multiple uses, we found it really works best as a smart alarm clock. It almost seems to be built for that purpose and we think Amazon would have been better off marketing it that way. Of course it could be used in other locations, like the kitchen, but the larger 10.1” Echo Show is really better suited for that niche.
Overall, we think Amazon did a great job on the Echo Show 5 and if it’s indeed replacing the Echo Spot, it’s a huge upgrade. We loved the visual design choices and we’ll take a look at the features and functionality in a little bit. First, let’s take a look at our experience with the setup process.
The Echo Show 5 was actually the only Echo device we tested that we didn’t have problems setting up. Even though we eventually got them working, we had major connectivity problems with the Echo Dot, Echo Plus, and Echo Sub. With the Echo Show 5 we simply plugged in the power adapter and followed the instructions on the touch screen.
Unlike the other Echo devices that require the cumbersome Alexa app, the setup process for the Echo 5 is done entirely on the device. After the device booted up, the first thing we did was select our language and connect to our WiFi network. Once we were connected, we signed into our Amazon account and all our info was automatically imported. You can also name your device if you prefer deviating from the default.
Unlike the other Echo devices that require the cumbersome Alexa app, the setup process for the Echo 5 is done entirely on the device.
There was a lengthy software update but it completed without a hitch. We were worried that it froze at one point but the initial instructions on screen warned that it could take up to ten minutes, and it did. After the basic setup, everything else you can do is optional and software based.
There’s no way we could cover all of the potential setup and customization options in the Echo Show 5 due to the staggering volume of them, but we did spend a lot of time exploring the settings menu. The onboard software runs smoothly and is mostly intuitive, as long as you remember a few basics for navigation. Swiping left gives you access to the devices key features while swiping down displays a home button and controls for brightness, do not disturb, and accessing settings.
In the Home & Clock settings, Amazon provides a lot of stock options for different backgrounds and clock styles. You can also grab a photo from your library (including Facebook and Amazon Photos) and add your own. You can also go to the Alexa app and upload a photo from your mobile device.
The other side of the Echo Show 5’s software is Alexa. Alexa launched back in November 2014 with the original Echo and has come a long way since then. It’s now a robust digital assistant and the Echo Show 5 does a great job at fully utilizing Alexa functionality.
It was surprising to us that the Echo Show 5 only uses two microphones given how well it picks up and understands voices. The Echo Show 5 does make more mistakes on average than the Plus or Dot, but it tended to only happen when its volume, or the volume on another nearby device, was set really high.
There is a full range 1.65” built-in speaker that sounds a lot better than its diminutive size suggests. Like all the other Echo devices, we found that some distortion kicks in around 80% volume, but that was plenty loud for us. The Echo Show 5 does exhibit good frequency balance, meaning there’s just enough bass matched with fairly clear mids and treble. It also lacks the abrasive highs you often get with smaller speakers.
We found the microphones to be fairly weak and were told that the audio quality on the receiving end of video or voice calls wasn’t great. Since we think the best application of the Echo Show 5 is as a nightstand smart alarm, we’ll probably never use it for video or voice calls, especially since our mobile phones can do both better.
The 5.5” touch screen is also a little small for video, though it does have great color, good viewing angles and is nice and bright when you want it to be. It’s similar in size to many phones, however, and lacks the high resolution of most flagship smartphones. The trade off is that your phone’s audio quality isn’t going to be as good.
Unless you know exactly what you are looking for, it’s also more difficult to find it with Alexa or by navigating a web browser or app with the touch screen. We couldn’t imagine many situations where we the Echo Show 5 would supplant our TV or PC for video, but we did enjoy watching recipe tutorials in the kitchen. Even then the screen wasn’t ideal. It’s a little too small and with no articulation to adjust the angle, so we had to stick it on top of some cookbooks to see what we were doing.
One of the main features the Echo Show 5 has that competitors like the Google Nest Hub lack is the built-in camera. It’s just another thing we don’t really see ourselves using the device for though. For us it just makes way more sense on the 10.1” Echo Show or the upcoming Google Nest Hub Max with its larger screen.
The Show 5 packs a lot into a very compact chassis at a very affordable price, and it’s well featured for a device in this price range.
Something we really love about Amazon’s Echo smart hub devices, including the Show 5, is that you can use them like you would a walkie talkie. Are your kids upstairs and you want to call them down to dinner while you’re just finishing up? You can either use the Drop In feature to talk to an Echo device in another room, or use the Announcement feature and have Alexa’s voice do the talking for you.
The Echo Show 5 has an ambient sunrise alarm feature and auto screen brightness, making it an ideal smart display for your bedside. Aside from that, the Echo Show is similar to competing devices, and it really comes down to which voice assistant and ecosystem you prefer.
The Echo Show 5 is currently only $65 (MSRP), while the older, full-sized show is $230. The Show 5 packs a lot into a very compact chassis at a very affordable price, and it’s well featured for a device in this price range.
The Lenovo Smart Clock and Google Nest Hub are both comparable in price and all these devices go on sale regularly, often at some pretty deep discounts. The Echo Show 5 has a lot of advantages over competitors though it flags in areas like audio quality. The Google Nest Hub wins out when it comes to sound and probably its user interface as well.
On the other hand, the Echo Show 5 has features the others don’t and if you prefer Alexa, an Amazon Echo device is the way to go. With a good display, decent sound, the sunrise alarm, and built-in camera, we think the Echo Show 5 is a great value.
The Lenovo Smart Clock is around the same price as the Echo Show 5, give or take $10 depending on what promotions are going on at the time. The Lenovo is a little smaller with a 4” screen and doesn’t play video. You can still do a lot with it though; setting alarms, checking out the weather, creating routines, or playing music, news, or podcasts from any of your favorite streaming services.
The Lenovo Smart Clock runs on Google Assistant, so you can still use it like a smart hub and control all the same smart devices that you can with the Echo Show 5. Dimming your Philips Hue bulbs or shutting off the lights is as simple as saying “Hey, Google” instead of “Alexa.” There’s even a USB charging port for your phone, something we would’ve liked on the Echo Show 5.
Overall, however, the Lenovo Smart Clock isn’t as powerful a device as the Echo Show 5. If you’re looking for something you’ll use mainly as an alarm clock, it's a good option. We don’t have a preference between the Google and Amazon digital assistants, and if you don’t either, the Echo Show 5 is better hardware.
One of our favorite Amazon Echo devices.
Any way you look at it, the Echo Show 5 is priced just right and well worth the price. If you prefer Alexa over Google Assistant you’re not going to be disappointed. While there’s a growing field of competition out there, the Show 5 distinguishes itself with its feature set and excellent Alexa implementation. Unless you strongly prefer the Google voice assistant, the Show 5 is strong option.
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