Smart displays are getting increasingly powerful. Not only can they show information related to your voice requests, but they can also be used for video chats, to control smart home devices, and more. The Echo Show 5 is one of the most compact of these smart displays. That makes it a great bedside clock, for example.
At $80, the Echo Show 5 is relatively inexpensive. But does Amazon cut any corners to reach this price point? We put the device to the test to find out in our full Echo Show 5 review.
Amazon Echo Show 5 design
As mentioned, the Echo Show 5 is one of the more compact smart displays out there. That might be the reason you buy the device — but if not, it’s worth also considering the Echo Show 8 or the Echo Show 10.
As you might expect, the display on the device measures around 5.5 inches. The Echo Show 5 as a whole comes in at 5.8 inches wide, 3.4 inches tall, and 2.9 inches deep. It’s definitely a little deeper than you might expect, but that’s a good thing as it houses a larger speaker as a result.
On the top of the Echo Show 5 is where you’ll find all the controls. There are buttons for volume up and down, plus there’s a button to mute the microphone and turn off the camera. And, just in case you don’t trust the button, there’s a slider to physically cover the camera too. It’s clear Amazon is trying to abate concerns about privacy.
The back of the device is wedge-shaped, allowing it to rest firmly on a desk. It’s covered with a fabric texture, which helps make it look a little more approachable.
Generally speaking, the Echo Show doesn’t look bad. The white model can look a little cheap, and I haven’t seen the black or blue models in person. But it won’t look out of place in a home environment.
Amazon Echo Show 5 Display
The Echo Show 5’s display is pretty small, and as a result, it’s better for glanceable information than watching movies and TV shows. Technically, however, you could watch movies on it if you want to. The device supports Prime Video and Netflix, plus YouTube through a built-in web browser.
The quality of the display is fine for a 5-inch screen. It’s pretty low-resolution, at 960 x 480, but you can still read text on it and see images perfectly fine. Importantly, while the viewing angles aren’t good enough for wide-angle movie-watching, you can still easily see things like the time and weather. It also gets bright enough for use.
Amazon Echo Show 5 Audio and camera
Part of the Echo experience, in general, is being able to listen to music, and even if you don’t use it to listen to music, you’ll at least want to be able to hear Alexa well. The speaker is actually identical to the previous-generation Echo Show 5, which is to say that it definitely does the job. The speaker can get loud enough for most use-cases, and despite its super-small size, it doesn’t sound bad.
That’s not to say it sounds great. The speaker doesn’t have all that much bass or much detail in the high-end. If you’re looking for something to listen to music with, we recommend saving up a little more for something else. But, if you want something to use to talk to Alexa, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, and so on, the Echo Show 5 is perfectly fine.
The camera on the device isn’t middling too. It does the trick for video-calling, but not with much quality. Generally, images lack detail and depth, but again, it’s perfectly fine in most situations. The device can be used as a basic security camera too. It doesn’t offer smarter security features or notifications, but you can see a feed of your home through the device when you want.
Amazon Echo Show 5 smart features and interface
As is the case with any smart display, the main reason to get the Echo Show 5 is the fact that it’s so smart. As you would expect, the headline smart feature is Alexa. With Alexa, you can find out information from the web, control your smart home devices, and more. Alexa is one of the best digital assistants out there. It’s about on-par with Google Assistant, and quite a bit better than Siri, though Siri is starting to get better. Alexa also constantly improves, meaning that in a year, your Echo Show 5 will probably be more helpful than it already is.
There are some other smart features that are unique to the Echo Show 5, rather than Alexa in general. As mentioned, you’ll get the Home Monitoring feature that lets you see a feed from the built-in camera.
The overall interface is relatively easy to navigate. The home screen, by default, cycles through things like news headlines, images, and suggested skills. Swipe down from the top of the screen to access a slider for brightness, a do not disturb button, and a Settings button. Swipe from the right to access more features, like video and music, routines, and smart home devices. You’ll easily get used to it.
Amazon Echo Show 5 performance
While the camera quality isn’t great, the biggest issue I had with the Echo Show 5 is the fact that it’s pretty slow at times. The interface often stutters, and it takes time for the device to load things like web pages. I would have liked to see better performance from the Echo Show 5, as it would have made for a more seamless experience overall.
For the price, the Amazon Echo Show 5 is the best smart speaker out there. It’s not groundbreaking by any means — the camera is pretty lackluster and it’s a bit slow. But Alexa gets smarter all the time, the device is pretty well-designed, and it integrates pretty well with the rest of your smart home, assuming your smart home is built on Alexa.
If you’re an Alexa user, the main competition comes from Amazon itself, in the form of the Echo Show 8 and Echo Show 10. Those devices are about as capable as this one, but they offer larger displays, better audio, and more.
There’s competition on the Google side too, like the Google Nest Hub. The Nest Hub has a larger screen and better audio response. Obviously, if you’re plugged into the Alexa ecosystem, those things won’t be all that important to you.
Should I buy the Amazon Echo Show 5?
Yes. If you’re an Alexa user who just wants a solid budget smart display, the Echo Show 5 is the way to go.