When you hop out of bed in the morning, do you ever wish that there was someone there to say good morning to? If that “someone” isn’t your mom, your spouse, or your dog … Maybe it could be Amazon’s Alexa. The Amazon Echo Show 5 is there when you need it, and it’s so tiny that it’s barely there at all when you don’t. Unlike your partner, for whom the entire world is a punishment until their fourth cup of coffee (Sorry—am I just projecting here?), Alexa is always awake, chipper, and happy to help.
What’s in the Box of the Amazon Echo Show 5
The Amazon Echo Show 5 is a really simple little smart home system. It’s the most efficient, compact smart assistant that I’ve ever seen with a screen: the front surface is almost all screen, and its entire body isn’t much larger than a portable speaker. (Depending on your speaker, the Echo Show 5 may actually be significantly smaller!)
This Echo Show is in the Charcoal finish, which is a dark grey-black. The front of the Echo Show 5’s smart display is 5.5″ across, and the angled back doubles as both a speaker and a stand. If you’ll remember from my 2nd Generation Amazon Echo Show Review, the standard-sized Echo Show is a much larger 10.1″ diagonally. The box, however, contains the same essentials: the device itself, a charging cable, and a glossy black power adapter. A quick start/things to try card is also included, which helps less tech-savvy users get a head start.
How the Amazon Echo Show 5 Performs
The Amazon Echo Show 5 does most of what the Echo Show does … But it does it smaller. The smart display and voice control can be used to update to-do lists, grab the time without looking, turn your smart lights off, and more.
As someone who (despite being a tech reviewer) would never want a smart home device to stick around full-time, I have to admit: they make a lot of sense, especially for families. I recently visited my cousin’s house to meet my new nieces, and honestly? I don’t know how she’d do it without a smart assistant. With two kids, her hands are frequently both full—but a voice-activated system lets her close the blinds, call her husband, or set a feeding timer totally hands-free.
While you could technically complete everything the Amazon Echo Show 5 does using your smartphone or smartphone assistant, it’s a nice way to streamline everything in your house. The Echo Show essentially acts as a hub for your other smart devices, which is to say that it doesn’t add any functionality—but it makes each separate task a little easier. Unlike the full-sized Echo Show, the 5 will occasionally need app support in order to complete a task, so you’ll need to have the Alexa App installed on your smartphone to get the most out of this device.
I’m used to devices (including smart devices) being screen-based, and I’m always thrown off a little when I use an Echo device. For the most part, Amazon’s home apps operate on voice command with what feels almost like a touchscreen backup. I find the visual UI of Echo Show devices to be clunky, and even more so on the Echo Show 5. Access to things like the home screen are based on a finicky pull-down, and the Show 5 has little functionality until you download additional apps.
The Amazon Echo Show 5 vs Amazon Echo Show
I didn’t find there to be a huge difference between the Amazon Echo Show and the Amazon Echo Show 5, but when I read the reviews of other bloggers, a few things stuck out to me. The biggest one is that there’s no YouTube App for the Echo Show 5—something that, as someone who doesn’t watch a lot of YouTube, is a problem that I likely wouldn’t have noticed for months. Similarly, the smaller model doesn’t come with ZigBee, Amazon’s smart home interface. (I find it easier to control each set of devices separately anyways.)
There are two additional differences between the Amazon Echo Show and the 5. The first one is the screen size: the Echo Show 5 is about half the size of the full Echo Show. The second is the price.
Though the Amazon Echo Show 5 functions similarly to the Echo Show, you’re paying significantly more for the larger model—and you get way more product as a result. Where the 5 has a 960×480 pixel screen resolution, the Echo Show has a 1280×800 pixel resolution. Where the 5 has a single 4W speaker, the Show has two 10W drivers (plus Dolby sound processing). And where the 5 has a 1MP camera, the Show has a 5MP camera.
In simple terms, what that means is that you really are getting more for your money with the classic Amazon Echo Show. I don’t think that’s a bad thing; In fact, I really enjoy when spending more actually means that you get more. The Amazon Echo Show 5 does most of what its classic counterpart does, but it does it smaller, quieter, and grainier—for way less money.
When to Choose the Echo Show 5
For basic functionality on a budget, the Amazon Echo Show 5 really delivers. It’s a well-styled device, and it renders the slightly more expensive Amazon Echo Spot essentially obsolete.
However, I don’t think that it’s a replacement for the Echo Show. It’s more like a Spot with a larger screen, or a Dot with an additional screen. The audio isn’t quite good enough that it can serve as your primary speaker, and considering that Amazon Prime Video is the only video streaming service that works with the Echo Show 5, you might not want to make it your primary video streaming device, either. (What am I supposed to do with a device that I can’t watch The Office on? What am I supposed to do with it?)
For the average user who simply wants to control their smart home and have an occasional drop-in or video call, the Echo Show 5 is great. Its small size and compact screen make it feel very much like an Amazon Echo Dot replacement; It sits at around the same price point, but it offers you more value. The touchscreen is a little clunky, but it’s discreet and glossy in a way that enriches the product.
Overall, I like the Amazon Echo Show 5. It’s not for everyone, but I think it would truly excel in a small apartment or on your nightstand. Oh, and its manual privacy filter makes it a better fit for the bedroom than the classic Echo Show—so you can finally ask Alexa to show you who’s at the front door at 4:30 AM, armed with a thermos full of milk and sugar.