Along with the new Echo Show 8, Amazon has updated the smaller Echo Show 5 smart display. There are no major changes to the screen or speakers, and it is essentially the same smart clock radio as the previous model, priced at the same $84.99. The camera has received a minor update, but there is no step up in image quality as you get with the new Echo Show 8. For new users, however, the second-generation Echo Show 5 remains a convenient and affordable smart display that is small enough to fit almost anywhere you need Alexa and a screen.
As an Amazon smart display, the Echo Show 5 uses Amazon’s digital assistant for all voice controls. You can ask for general information, such as weather forecasts or sports match results, and the answers are available both through Alexa’s voice and on the touchscreen. It can also tell you your schedule, check your email, etc. Any Alexa-enabled smart home device can be controlled by voice or touch, with relevant control panels and home security camera images displayed on request. It is also possible to monitor your home from the Alexa app using the camera on the Echo Show 5.
The Echo Show 5 is about the size of an iPhone mounted horizontally in a wedge shape. All the electronics are housed within its triangular column, which can be tilted towards the user for easier viewing of the screen. The back has a textured fabric finish and the bottom is made of rubber. On the top of the unit are several buttons, including volume up/down, microphone and camera on/off. There is also an analogue slider that blocks or frees the camera shutter to ensure there is no risk of accidental spying. At the back of the unit, on the pointy end of the wedge, there is a power port, a micro USB input and a 3.5mm audio output, allowing you to connect the Echo Show 5 to more powerful speakers (although not many people will do so).
The Echo Show’s Kids Plus service is similar to that offered on Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition tablet. It allows parents to customise the content and features available on the device and tailor it to the age of their child: music from Amazon Music is played and explicit songs are not allowed. Certain features, such as smart home controls, will also be removed from the Show’s touch interface.
Overall, the new Echo Show 5 (and its derivative, the Kids Edition) is essentially the same as previous models. It remains a convenient and compact smart display for a nightstand or desk, but it is not as powerful and fast as the larger Echo models in Amazon’s line-up. Given the limitations imposed by the camera, I’d be more interested in a model without a camera at all, such as Google’s Nest Hub, as the ideal use case here is an alarm clock in the bedroom.