To sum up this Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: if you want a compact Alexa smart display to use in a bedroom or small office space, then you won’t get much better than this.
Amazon Echo devices have come a long way, and the Echo Show range is the best example of just how far. They’re smart displays that come in a number of different sizes, the smallest being the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021). You can also get Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) and the biggest one - the Amazon Echo Show 10 which is currently the best smart speaker you can buy.
You’ll be able to use them in the same way you’d use a normal Alexa smart speaker, but with the added benefit of a screen to display the information visually. So you can find out the weather, get recipes and control your smart home even more easily. They’ll even let you make video calls to other Alexa devices and to those with the Alexa app installed. Plus, it doubles up as a smart photo frame and bedside alarm clock.
You could get a great deal on the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) - it's likely to be included in this year's Amazon Prime Day deals.
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: price and what’s new
Available to buy now on Amazon, the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) costs $84.99 in the US, £74.99 in the UK and AU$119 in Australia. The widgets on this page will give you more up to date pricing information, including the latest deals across the web right now.
This is the second iteration of the Amazon Echo Show 5, the first was released back in 2019, they look almost identical with the same speaker hardware and largely similar features.
The biggest change in the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) is its ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’ status - that means that the device, cable and adaptor are made from 30% post-consumer recycled plastics, 100% post-consumer recycled fabric and 100% recycled die-cast aluminium, while 96% of the packaging it comes in is made from sustainable wood-fibre-based materials. It also enters low power mode when left idle to save on energy consumption.
In terms of features, the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) improves on the first generation with a 2MP camera (it was only 720p before). It has also omitted the 3.5mm audio input, so you can now only wirelessly connect to it.
Before you could only choose between a black and white option, now they’ve added a Deep Sea Blue colour too.
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: design, display and setup
Like its predecessor, the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) features the same toppled over pyramid shape, along the top are the volume controls, a microphone mute button and a slider for the camera privacy shutter.
It measures 148 x 86 x 73 mm and has a 5.5inch display, the bezels around it are quite thick and houses the camera on the top right. It’s the smallest in Amazon’s range of Echo Show smart displays, the screen is a similar size to a smartphone so it’ll probably be best used as a bedside alarm clock or something similar.
Setting up the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) is really easy. You just plug it in and enter your Amazon account details and WiFi password using the touchscreen. It is a bit of a hassle that you have to type in your information using the touchscreen display, as opposed to setting it up through the Alexa app like other Echo devices, especially with the screen being so small. If you already have other Alexa devices set up, and linked to smart home tech, you’ll immediately be able to control them through the display.
The display has a resolution of 960 x 480p so although bright and sharp enough to read recipes or to display the weather on - it’s not really high-quality enough to stream video despite that being possible through Prime Video and YouTube. Elsewhere though, the text is very legible and it can display photos in decent quality. Considering its price, the screen is pretty impressive.
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: features, audio and camera
Like all Alexa speakers, you can ask the voice assistant anything, and she’s always learning. The smart display only enhances this experience, it’s great to be able to see your timer countdown or to be able to touch the screen to skip through Spotify tracks. It makes everything feel easier and more digestible, especially when it comes to longer-form content like recipes or news headlines. The Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) includes all of the benefits of Alexa Skills, including fun apps and games like Song Quiz.
Where the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) really thrives is in smart home control. You can manage your smart tech in each room through the display, whether that's lamps, smart plugs or a thermostat. I especially found the light control helpful, it made adjusting their brightness much easier than it is through voice commands, it’s a shame you can’t choose colours through it though. If you use Ring cameras, you can show their feed on the screen. It can also give you peace of mind when you're away, you can use the built-in camera to check on your home from your phone.
Considering how small the smart display is, the 1.6” speaker is pretty good. It’s definitely good enough for a bedroom and happily fills up other smaller spaces too. If you want to blast out music in a large living room, you’ll be better off with one of the bigger options, though.
I made a few video calls through the camera and microphone, mostly to other Alexa devices. While the image quality wasn’t quite the level as you’d get on a flagship smartphone, it was surprisingly clear. There were times when the microphone was very slightly muffled but that didn’t affect the conversation at all.
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: verdict
If you already own the original Amazon Echo Show 5 then the changes aren’t big enough to replace it with the next generation. You can see the difference in the camera quality and it’s great to know that it’s a more sustainable tech choice, but those changes aren’t massively significant. For those who are buying it for the first time, it’s definitely worth getting the 2nd generation.
I’ve been completely won over by the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021). It’s a great little bedside companion and means you can make the most out of your Alexa ecosystem everywhere in the house.
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021) review: also consider
If you need a smart display for the kitchen or living room, then you’ll want to consider the bigger versions: the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen, 2021) and the Amazon Echo Show 10.
For anyone who uses the Google ecosystem, then the best smart display you can buy is still the Google Nest Hub Max. It is slightly better than Amazon at answering your burning questions, and it performs just as well when it comes to smart home control and call quality.
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