The Amazon Echo Show 5 is the latest addition to Amazon's smart display offering. Much like its older sibling, the Echo Show 2nd Generation, it has a small touchscreen a built in speaker and all the Alexa smart assistant features you'd hope to find in a smart speaker.
But what exactly does the Echo Show 5 do – or what do any other smart displays do for that matter? And is it worth the spend? We've spent a week reviewing it to see whether it lives up to the hype, how it can be truly useful and whether you should buy one.
Want more advice? Don't miss our beginner's guide to smart audio which explains what smart speakers and displays can do in full.
What is the Amazon Echo Show 5 smart display?
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. Head over to our round up of the best smart speakers to find out more about these. And find out more about what smart assistants can do in our expert guide.
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.
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 – find out more about what Alexa can do in our review).
How will you use the Amazon Echo Show 5?
Here's how I used it, 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.
Allowed me to answer the door from my bedroom
I synched 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 video doorbell buying guide for the latest buys at the best prices.
Let me to 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, ask Dyson to start purifying' and it would.
Gave me privacy when I wanted it
I was conscious that there was a camera in my bedroom – more so that I am about having one in my living room. 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 out more about – and the best – wake up lights in our buyer's guide.
How else could it be used?
Connect to more smart home devices
I don't have smart lighting or a smart kettle (yet) but the Echo Show 5 can be easily connected up to other smart home devices or to smart plugs (see our buyer's guide for more info on these) so that they can all be controlled through it via voice command. So, I could have jumped out of bed, woken Alexa and asked her to boil my connected kettle, turn on my bedroom lighting and play me the news.
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.
What did I like about the Echo Show 5?
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.
What didn't I like about the Echo Show 5?
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. And, although there's a headphone jack, but you'd want to be listening to music/podcasts/white noise in bed; otherwise, again, you may as well be doing so on your phone.
How to use the Amazon Echo Show
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.
Echo Show 5 VS Echo Show 2nd Generation
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.
Where to buy an Amazon Echo Show 5
Amazon Echo Show 5 product 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