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Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

THE AMAZON ECHO has come a long way since it first launched almost exactly four years ago. We’ve had various smaller iterations in that time as well as the addition of display in the form of a range of devices under the Echo Show name.

The Echo Show is all about connecting you to Alexa while giving you vivid visuals, so can have information displayed to you when you wake up, for instance, and not have to open your mouth the ask Alexa what’s going on. It also means you can see on-screen lyrics while playing tunes (although only with Amazon Music), set alarms and timers, and catch up on news highlights and film trailers.

Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

Earlier this month, Amazon launched the Echo Show 5, a more compact version of the original Echo Show that was released last year. We’ve been using it since that time to see how it lives up to its bigger brother, and a smaller screen and speaker have too much of a negative impact on the user experience.

Design

There are no prizes for guessing how big the screen is. The “5” in the name refers simply to the size of the screen, which actually measures 5.5in but they’re not going to name it the Echo 5.5 are they. The original Show packed a much-larger 10.1in the display, so this new model offers a more compact and affordable package.

The smaller form factor works really well. Measuring just 148mm wide and 73mm deep, the Echo Show 5 is compact enough to fit comfortably on small side tables, for example, while still offering enough screen real estate to warrant having a display at all. It also tips the scales at just 410g, so ideal if you need to move it around from time to time.

 Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

You might be wondering where the speaker is. Well, Amazon has been able to cram it alongside the screen by locating it in the back of the unit. You might think this would affect sound quality, but as we’ll mention later, it really doesn’t. The Show is also cleverly designed to hide quite a bit of bulk at the back, where it thins out from the screen, making it look much thinner than it is.

On the other hand, we think the bezel could have been a little smaller. The thick border between the screen and the edges of the unit aren’t easy on the eye and do make it look a little cheap, in our opinion.

 Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

This larger bezel does, however, give way for a 1MP camera with 720p HD video recording, so you can carry out video calls with friends and family, and “drop-in” with fellow Echo users – free of charge – over your WiFi connection. And in case you’re worried about Amazon or anyone else spying on you, it has a built-in cover that you can flick across to evade any potentially prying eyes. It works well but we never really found a use for it to be honest.

Display

This smaller Echo’s 5.5 display supports touch input, so you can swipe up and down on certain on-screen options just as you do a tablet, with the additional support of Alexa. It isn’t quite as responsive as we would have liked, though; there seems to be a very subtle lag there where pressing and prodding, but nothing too serious.

 Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

The Echo’s 5.5 screen is decent, but it definitely won’t blow your mind. At a 960×480 pixel resolution, you’re not getting much visually that you wouldn’t from watching videos on your phone, but it does the job nonetheless.

Performance

One thing that Amazon touts on Show 5 is the benefits of its beam-forming tech to ensure you’re well-heard around the house. While we didn’t really find this worked so well on the Amazon Echo Show last year, this time around it’s certainly not the case. Amazon must have worked to improve this feature in this more compact device because we found that it will hear and recognize you say “Alexa” even if you whisper it at the other side of the room. Pretty impressive, but also quite scary.

The sound quality is also very good for such a small device – much better than we were expecting. With a full range of 1.65 built-in speakers, there’s actually a decent amount of sound tech in there, resulting in a deep, bassy sound that gets loud enough to upset the neighbors if you want to. However, you’ll probably want to connect it up to a better speaker for good quality music playback. The Show 5 is perhaps better for playing podcasts, listening to radio stations, or for chatting with Alexa.

 Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

W didn’t find much need to use the Echo Show’s video calling feature. We all have smartphones, and we have absolutely zero desire to use a different device to video call people (never mind having to explain it to them). Maybe some people who want to do video calls as a family will appreciate this feature, but for us, it wasn’t worth switching from the smartphone apps we currently use.

Unlike Google’s Home devices, the Amazon Echo Show, like all Echo devices, can take advantage of the huge library of Alexa skills. That means it’s easy to add functionality to the Echo Show via third-party skills, whereas with Google you have to wait for the company itself to add them. We found Alexa was able to work with most smart devices around the home, as if it exists, it’s more likely someone has at least tried to build a skill for it. There was some tweaking needed and some googling required to see how to get them to work, but in most cases, they worked pretty well.

 Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

Security

After much bad press in the last few years that Alexa has been recording us and saving the data without prior consent, Amazon has made a few efforts to redeem itself with the Echo show 5. This time around, the Show has been built with multiple layers of privacy. For example, your voice is streamed to the cloud only after your device detects the wake word (for example, “Alexa”). Then there’s the addition of the camera shutter, which is another welcome security feature.

 Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

Connectivity

The Echo Show 5 supports dual-band WiFi at 802.11a/b/g/n/ac but does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) WiFi networks. In terms of Bluetooth, it has Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) support for audio streaming from your mobile device as well as a 3.5 mm stereo audio output for use with external speakers so you can play music and listen back to Alexa through a bigger sound system if you want to.

 Amazon Echo Show 5 Review

In Short

All-in-all, the Echo Show 5 has a lot going for it, especially its price. It offers impressive audio playback considering its compact size, and the screen gives it an extra level of functionality compared to previous, non-Show devices.

The fact you can hook the Echo Show 5 up to a better-quality sound system and use it as the center of your entertainment world – answering (most of) the commands you bark at Alexa – makes it a must for any smart homeowner.

And with a price tag of just £80, it’s a bit of a steal and well worth the investment, if you ask us.

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Our verdict

All-in-all, the Echo Show 5 has a lot going for it, especially its price. It offers impressive audio playback considering its compact size, and the screen gives it an extra level of functionality compared to previous, non-Show devices.

  • Design