The Amazon Echo Show 5 shows just how far we've come since 2014 when the first Echo speaker unexpectedly showed up: the hardware has got a lot sleeker and Alexa has got a lot smarter down the years. Having added a screen with the first Echo Show three years back, Amazon now sells the Echo Show in three sizes, of which this is the smallest.
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The Amazon Echo Show 5 can do everything that all the other Echo devices can do, but the addition of a screen means a few extra features are available – and a few other features are easier to manage. At a very reasonable price (check the prices on this page for the latest deals – it's often strongly discounted), it makes sense whether you're expanding your smart home or just getting started.
Amazon Echo Show 5: design and setup
The Amazon Echo Show 5 is certainly nice and compact, with a rubber base to stop it slipping around – all Echo Show devices look more or less the same, they're just in different sizes. Along the top you've got buttons for volume and disabling the microphone and camera. It's not stunning in its looks, but it does the job.
With just a 5.5-inch screen on offer, which is probably smaller than the one on your phone, we're very much in bedside alarm clock territory here. We could do with less in the way of bezels around the sizes of the screen, but it's fine. You can pick up the Echo Show 5 in either white or black.
We don't have any major complaints about the setup process, though tapping out your Wi-Fi password and Amazon account details on the small screen feels a bit awkward. A lot of heavy lifting is done through the Alexa app on your phone, which lets you configure the device, connect up other smart home gadgets, and add extra services (for music, calendars and so on) for example.
Once setup is complete, the Echo Show 5 cycles through news headlines, the weather forecast, and your upcoming schedule (if you've added a calendar through the Alexa app). It's all very nicely done, with text that's clear and legible, and simple graphics that suit the less-than-huge display.
Amazon Echo Show 5: features and functions
In terms of video, Prime Video works, but that's about it – you can get at YouTube, but only through a browser app, which is a bit fiddly. Netflix doesn't work at all. This isn't really a device for watching video though: the screen is better utilised for the graphics that go alongside your weather forecasts, timers and so on.
At this price you might as well buy an Echo with a screen rather than without. The display comes in handy for controlling connected smart home devices (if you have Ring cameras set up at home, you can actually view the video feed), and for skipping through songs (Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and various other services are supported). Speaking of music, audio performance is actually quite good, and definitely strong enough to fill a small room.
Then you've got all the usual Alexa tricks: telling you what time it is anywhere in the world, doing sums, looking up facts from the web, showing you your schedule, telling you how long journeys will take, and so on. With the display and camera, you can also make video calls to other Echo devices and phones with the Alexa app installed.
Amazon Echo Show 5 review: verdict
Echo devices are now well established in many a home: they're polished, simple to use, packed with features, and getting better all the time. Is the Echo Show 5 the right one in the range for you?
It works best as a little bedside gadget or kitchen helper, but if you're going to get an Echo with a screen because you want to make full use of seeing things on that screen, you might find that the bigger sizes suit you better.
But when it goes down to around £50 on sale, as it occasionally does, we think you might as well get the Echo that gives you information at a glance as well as out loud, because why not? It's cute and convenient.