The smart home space is getting more crowded every day. From smart doorbells to smart lights, it was only a matter of time until we got a few solid smart alarm clocks. Entering this space is the newly released Echo Show 5, and for the price, it is a hard device to beat.
At first glance the Echo Show 5 seems like a standard alarm clock with a nice display, but under the surface it does almost everything we have come to expect from its bigger and more expensive older brother, the Echo Show, only in a more bedside table friendly size. It also addresses many of the complaints people had about the Echo Spot, and although not quite as fun a shape, the Show 5 is without question the device to buy, especially with the cheaper price.
From the point of unboxing to setting it up, the Echo Show 5 feels like a shrunk down Echo Show 2nd generation. The 5.5 inch screen and smaller rear-firing speaker are the biggest and most noticeable differences between the two devices. While yes, the Echo Show will be louder, and the 10-inch screen is more conducive to watching media, beyond that, the Show 5 has most of the features you would want out of a smart screen, only smaller.
As I mentioned before, the 5.5-inch screen is not the best looking on devices today, it only manages a resolution of 960 x 480 pixels, and the clarity is not great. In fact, I would venture to guess most phones have a much higher resolution and screen density than this little device. Having said that, the Echo Show 5 is perfectly serviceable and is fine for the type of device it is and it’s easy to see in most bedroom setups. It is also fantastic to see the ambient light adjustment on the display, meaning you won’t be kept awake by the display as you try and get a good night’s rest.
Much like the screen, the 4-watt speaker will not be the life of any parties. While it sounds good at reasonable volumes, and podcasts and music sound surprisingly good on it, the device simply lacks the power and projection to fill anything but a smaller room with sound, though Alexa does sound good on it and managed to be very clear anywhere in the room where I tested it. Much like the Echo Input, the Echo Show 5 has the potential to output via a 3.5mm headphone jack to a bigger stereo system. While not something I think many will try, it is nice to see Amazon include this feature on such an inexpensive unit.
With the Echo Show 5, Amazon is only using a two-microphone array for voice commands, as opposed to the four-microphone array in the larger 10-inch Echo Show. Yet even with this decrease in microphones I never noticed any issues with Alexa understanding my commands, even when listening to audio.
Like past Echo Show devices, Amazon included a built-in camera for video calls with the Show 5. Now, this 1-megapixel camera will not be winning any awards for quality or clarity, but it can be used to video chat with another Echo device, the Alexa App, and Skype if you wish. One great feature that Amazon has included with this iteration of the Echo Show is the physical switch to block the camera. This is something that is essential for any internet connected device sitting in a bedroom, and I hope more manufacturers take notice and look to implement something similar moving forward.
The Echo Show 5 has all the major services we have come to expect from Echo-based products, including services from around the web like CBC, NBC, Amazon Prime, How-Stuff-Works, Vevo and more. It even comes with the same set of web browsers, Firefox and Silk, but sadly, what you won’t find here is YouTube or any Google-based service for that matter. For anything Google related you will be reliant on the built-in web browsers, which is certainly not an ideal situation by any stretch of the imagination.
The interface feels similar to the other Echo Show iterations, although Amazon has made a few tweaks that make it much easier to use overall. When you swipe left from the right edge you will find buttons for music, alarms, video, Alexa Skills, and the new communication hub for smart home devices. Honestly, I hope more Amazon Echo devices include these easy access menus. While Alexa’s voice is sometimes easier, the ease of use seen in the Echo Show 5 was a pleasant surprise.
With each iteration of the Echo range, Amazon is providing more reason to have these in your home. From smart device control to convenience, Echo is becoming a more exciting product category as time goes on. Never has this been truer than with the Show 5; it is small, cheap and useful. Since setting up, I have used the Echo Show 5 at least a few times a day, and it has easily fit into my daily routine. From a smart alarm to the way it connects to the rest of my home, at this time, it is hard to see a better Smart Alarm clock currently on the market—If only they could get Google Services working, it would be near perfect.