Amid a raft of bumper Amazon Echo discounts, Amazon has decided to take the wraps off the latest addition to its Echo portfolio – the Echo Show 5.
Following in the footsteps of previous Echo Show devices, the new smart home gadget sports a touchscreen to display extra information whenever voice assistant Alexa answers one of your questions, queries, or requests. At £79.99, it's much more affordable than the standard Echo Show with its £219 price tag. In fact, the new Alexa-powered gadget is even cheaper than the £119 Google Home Hub.
Echo Show 5 has a much compact design than previous Amazon Echo Show devices, thanks to its smaller 5.5-inch display. That brings it much closer to the Google Home Hub, which has a 7-inch touchscreen, than the previous Echo Show, which was designed to sit on a kitchen counter, in part due to its 10-inch HD screen.
Amazon has added a number of tweaks to its software to take advantage of the display and make its AI assistant Alexa more useful to have around the home. This includes the ability to watch how-to videos from wikiHow, easily view your baby monitor feed from Arlo, and add the Alexa Sunrise feature to your morning alarm.
As the number of screen-touting Alexa devices grow, the number of third-party apps, known as "Alexa Skills", that support the hardware grows, too. As such, the Echo Show 5 launches with a vast library of Alexa Skills already updated to support the display, so users can play their favourite game shows like Pointless or Deal or No Deal, discover what to watch with the "TV Guide" Skill, or study for your driving test with the "Driving Theory Test" Skill, to name a few.
Out of the box, the Amazon Echo Show 5 can be used as a dashboard to view – and control – all compatible smart home devices inside your home, including smart lighting, locks, and Fire TV Sticks. You can also view your smart home camera feed and thermostats, access recently used devices, and manage smart devices by group.
Amazon claims its new Echo Show 5 has a "rich and full sound", although we'll need to spend some time listening to our daily news briefing and favourite playlists on the smart home gadget to decide whether this is a genuine improvement, or simply marketing bumf.
The latest Echo Show doubles-down on privacy. Most notably, the Echo Show 5 has a built-in camera shutter that physically covers the lens. Since the Echo Show 5 is primarily designed to reside on your bedside table, this cover should reassure those who worry about inviting an always-on device into their home.
This marks a shift in policy from Amazon. The last Alexa device designed to reside on the bedside table, Echo Spot, did not include a physical shutter to cover the camera. Worse still, the ambient light sensor was built into the same opening, so covering the camera with a piece of tape as a DIY solution resulted in the clock never dimming and always shining at full brightness... even when you were trying to sleep. Not ideal.
Like all other Alexa-powered gadgets designed by Amazon, the Echo Show 5 also includes a microphone/camera off button that electronically disconnects both the microphone and camera. There is also a clear visual indicator that shows when audio or video is being streamed to the cloud.
Vice President of Amazon devices for Europe, Jorrit Van der Meulen said: "Since we launched the first Echo Show device, customers have told us that they love asking Alexa to show them things – whether it’s asking for their favourite recipes to cook along with, their shopping list, or music lyrics.
"With Echo Show 5, we’ve made it even easier and affordable for customers to add a smart display to every room of their house. The compact form factor is perfect for a bedside table or desk, plus it has a camera shutter for added peace of mind, and new Alexa privacy features that are coming soon to the UK for even more control."
Amazon Echo Show 5 is available in Charcoal and Sandstone colour finishes for £79.99. You can also choose to purchase a magnetic stand that lets you tilt the device to adjust the viewing and camera angles for only £19.99. Buy two devices and you'll get a £25 discount applied automatically at check-out, perfect if you're thinking of kitting out a few bedrooms in the house.
Both are available for pre-order today, with the first units shipping in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia on June 26, 2019.