Buying an Echo Show 5? We can get behind this. A great investment for a bedside table, the Amazon Echo Show 5 is undoubtedly one of the best smart speakers you can buy. It's slightly more feature-packed than the Echo Dot, yet smaller and cheaper than the Echo Show 2nd Gen. A very good happy medium in the Alexa smart speakers world. In fact, there's not much this smart speaker can't do. Some of the things that we use it for include switching off lights, turning on smart fans, playing sleep sounds, setting alarms, controlling smart plugs and so much more.
With a smart display and a camera, the Echo Show 5 can also be used to make video calls and watch videos, although we should stress that this is not all that it should be used for. You can also turn off the camera – there's a cover for it – and mute the microphone, if you like. A great bedroom companion for an attractively low price tag, we think. Read on to find out how we got on with it.
When you're done reading, we'd recommend comparing the Echo Show 5 to our pick of the best smart speakers.
- Read our Amazon Alexa review for a deeper insight into this smart assistant
- Find the best Amazon Echo deals at our page – don't overpay
Amazon Echo Show 5: specifications
- Weight: 410g
- Dimensions: 14.8cm x 8.6cm x 7.3cm
- Screen size: 5.5in
- Speaker size: Full range 1.65 built-in speaker
- Camera quality: 1MP
- Included in the box: Echo Show 5, power adaptor/cable (1.5 m) and 'Things to Try' guide
Who will the Amazon Echo Show 5 suit?
Anyone who's considering a smart speaker who might also want to watch videos, too. Think of it as somewhere between a smartphone (the Echo Show 5's 5.5in screen's resolution isn't much better so don't expect TV-quality images) and a tablet (although it isn't flat and needs to be plugged in to work so isn't as portable).
For those who remember, it's about the size of a traditional clock radio, so it'll sit neatly on a kitchen worktop or – as it did throughout our test – on a bedside table.
It's worth noting (for the technophobes out that) that it's really easy to set up. You simply input your details, and download the Alexa app on to your smartphone to control it remotely and to access all of Alexa's Skills (weather reports, story telling... and so on).
Amazon Echo Show 5: how to use it
The Echo Show 5 features three different buttons: one for turning the microphone on or off; one for turning the volume up and the other for turning the volume down. The device works via voice command and touch screen. However, Alexa can’t switch to some menus via voice command, which means you will need to use the screen and a totally hands-free experience you'll be used to from traditional smart speakers (such as the Echo Dot) isn't an option.
What else? The screen can be dimmed and brightened, there's also a Do Not Disturb setting that I liked.
Amazon Echo Show 5: how I use it
Here's how I use the Amazon Echo Show 5 daily, which will give you a good idea of how it can be useful.
Got me started in the morning
It sat on my bedside table, and once I'd woken up the device with 'Alexa, good morning', it gave me the weather forecast, traffic information for my commute to work, some news briefings and what was on my calendar for the day. I also asked to listen to the radio.
Helped me get to sleep
Alexa has an application called Sleep Sounds that you can enable from your smartphone. From here you can choose a sleep sound – the thunderstorms one is my fave – to help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
Allowed me to answer the door from my bedroom
I synced it with my Ring doorbell, too, so if anyone came to the door, it told me 'There is someone at the door'. I could then talk via the Echo Show screen and view the Ring doorbell's camera from my bedroom. Ideal if I'd just got out of the shower.
See our best video doorbell buying guide for the latest buys at the best prices.
Let me work my bedroom fan by voice control
This smart display is, as I've already said, compatible with other Alexa-enabled devices. In our case, that also meant our Dyson Pure Hot + Cool fan, heater and air purifier (see our review for more on that). I could simply say: 'Alexa, turn on Dyson' and it would.
Gave me privacy when I wanted it
I was conscious that there was a camera in my bedroom. Happily, there's a shutter that slides across the camera to disable it. You just need to remember to do so.
Helped me find my phone
Ask Alexa to find your phone and it will call it for you. A life saver.
Gave me an alarm clock with bonus features
This device doubles as an alarm clock which can be customised to suit both your personal preference and your room's decor, or you can use it to show off one of your own photos. The Echo Show 5's clock display is dimly lit, which is great because I am a very light sleeper. Plus, the sunrise effect will also help you wake up naturally; this effect can be set to begin 15 minutes before alarms set between 4am to 9am.
Find the best wake up lights in our buyer's guide.
Turn on the bedroom light
I use this Alexa device to turn on and off my bedroom light each day. This is great for when you are snuggled in bed and really don't want to get up to flick the switch, while it also makes getting up in winter easier when you can say "Alexa, turn on bedroom light' and be instantly awake.
Vacuum the house
The Echo Show 5 connects to my robot vacuum so I can say 'Alexa, turn on robot vacuum' and it will start cleaning. I can also instruct Alexa to send the vacuum home once i think it's finished.
Turn off hair straighteners
I always worry that I have left my hair straighteners on after leaving the house. After buying and connecting a smart plug to my Alexa, I can check remotely and turn the plug off from my phone, or simply ask her to do so. Great for peace of mind.
Connect it with another smart speaker
I've connected the Echo Show 5 with my Sonos S1 speaker so that I can control it using my voice. This is great since the speakers built into the Echo Show 5 aren't quite as impressive as the Sonos S1, while the Sonos S1 isn't as smart. Joining them together means I can reap the benefits of both.
See our best smart plugs guide for some recommendations.
How else could it be used?
Play music videos and stream movies
As I said above, the screen isn't that much large than my smartphone's so I didn't enjoy watching videos or shows on the Echo Show 5 any more than I would have done on my phone – plus, because it has to be plugged in to work, there was no portability.
You can stream Amazon Prime Video but the rear-facing speakers don't play music that loudly or that cleanly. Something to consider if you're gifting this to a teen.
Amazon Echo Show 5: screen
Smart displays are simply smart speakers with a touch screen. What is a smart speaker (we hear some of you ask)? It's a speaker you can control via a smart assistant such as Alexa: think the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.
What can a smart display do that a smart speaker can't? Well, with its screen it can be used to show videos, photos, allow you to video chat, display a clock face, weather forecasts... and so on.
Echo Show 5: pros
It's affordable and does more or less everything my Echo Show 2nd Generation does, but is more compact, making it a better buy for my bedside table. I use it daily to do everything from answer my front door to turning on my robot vacuum, turning off my bedroom light, switching on my Dyson fan and checking that my hair straighteners are off. And also sleep sounds – what a great feature!
Echo Show 5: cons
The main downside – other than a disappointing screen resolution and speaker performance – is that it needs to be plugged in to work. So, if you have it in your bedroom like I did but want to use it to look up recipes in your kitchen, you'll have to unplug it, reboot it and start again. And if you're doing that you may as well just use your smartphone.
Echo Show 5 VS Echo Show 2nd Gen
As I said above, both smart displays (see below) can perform much the same tasks. The Echo Show 5 is smaller, more lightweight and has the added bonus of a camera cover, plus there's a clock display on this device.
The Echo Show 2nd Generation may be bigger and a little heavier, and there's no clock display, but it does give you an improved viewing experience when it comes to videos and photos. For us, that makes the Echo Show 5 a better buy for a bedroom.
Amazon Echo Show 5: where to buy?
More useful guides:
- Beginner's guide to smart assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri – a jargon-free explanation
- Read our Echo Show 2nd Generation review if you are after a larger smart speaker