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Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) Review

Verdict

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Little has changed with the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) compared to the original, bar more eco-friendly materials and a higher resolution camera. For existing generation one owners, then, there’s no reason to upgrade. For everyone else, the Echo Show 5 remains a great little smart display, either as a budget option or as a useful smart alarm clock.

Pros

  • Works brilliantly as a bedside clock
  • Great price
  • Full set of Echo Show features

Cons

  • Very similar to last year’s model

Availability

  • UKRRP: £74.99
  • USARRP: $74.99
  • EuropeRRP: €84.99
  • CanadaRRP: CA$99.99
  • Australiaunavailable

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Key Features

  • Screen sizeWith its 5-inch display, this is the baby of the Echo Show line-up and ideal as a bedside companion.

Introduction

The baby of Amazon’s smart display line-up gets its second-generation update with the new Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation). If you were expecting big changes, then I’m sorry to disappoint: bar the new higher-resolution camera and more eco-friendly materials used in the design, this model is the same as the original Echo Show 5.

That’s bad news for upgraders, but for people looking to buy their first smart display, particularly one for the bedroom, there’s enough here to make this still a good choice.

Design

  • Looks the same as the original
  • Choice of one new colour
  • You lose the 3.5mm audio output

Really, the Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) is a smart display built for where you don’t have much space. Think of it as a smart alarm clock, along the same lines as the Lenovo Smart Clock, and you get the picture: this should really live at home on a bedside table.

Amazon has done nothing in terms of looks and feel, with the new model the exact same size as the old one (86 x 148 x 73mm). There are some minor differences in the materials used, though, with this new model using 30% post-consumer recycled plastics, 100% post-consumer recycled fabric and die-cast aluminium. And, 96% of the packaging is made from wood-fibre-based materials from recycled sources or responsibly managed forests.

While I’ve got the black version on review, there’s also a white version plus, new for this year, a Deep Sea Blue model. That at least gives a bit more choice.

On top, there are the same controls as last year: volume, microphone/camera mute, and a slider that covers the camera for additional privacy.

Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) controls

If you look carefully, the webcam cutout on this model is square; the old Echo Show 5 had a round cut-out (exciting change, I know).

Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) camera

Spin the display around, and there’s the power input at the rear but the 3.5mm audio jack has been removed. Given how smart displays are used, it’s unlikely that you’d ever want to use a 3.5mm audio output and, if you do want external speakers you can use Bluetooth anyway.

Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) rear

Features 

  • You can view the webcam remotely
  • Full range of Alexa features
  • Works well as an alarm clock

As this smart display uses Alexa, you get the same range of features here as on other Amazon Echo smart displays. My guide to Amazon Alexa goes into more detail, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the voice assistant: it’s pretty good at answering general questions, excellent for smart home control (better support and superior routines makes Alexa better than Google Assistant in this case), and you manage your calendars, make calls and more.

While the Lenovo Smart Clock is a bit cut-down and you can’t, for example, view feeds from security cameras, the Echo Show 5 can do everything its big brothers can, albeit on a smaller display.

Perform a smart home command, such as turning up your smart thermostat, for example, and the Echo Show 5 shows the on-screen controls, so you can fine-tune the action, say selecting a different temperature. And, there’s a shortcut to jump to smart device control, which can be handy in some cases, rather than using voice.

Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) smart home

As well as smart home, you also get video streaming. There’s now a full Netflix interface that apes the one on your phone, including search that can use the onscreen keyboard. Amazon Prime is built in, although the touch interface is quite basic and you can only search with your voice. YouTube is supported, but only through the browser, so it’s still a little clunky. I have to say that the small screen doesn’t particularly make this a very good video player.

Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) video

As with the original model, the Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) has an ambient light sensor that can drop the brightness of the screen at night. There’s a configurable Night Mode, too, that lets you choose what you see when it’s dark. The dimmed clock default option is great: when you’re sleeping, the clock is bright enough to read if you wake up, but not too bright that it keeps you awake.

You can set alarms using your voice or by swiping from the right to view the shortcut screen. When Alarms go off, you can tap the screen to snooze, swipe up to cancel, or say, “Alexa, stop”. With the Nest Hub (2nd Generation) you can just say “stop”, which is a tiny little bit easier.

Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) alarms

All of these features exist on the larger products, including the Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation), although they make more sense here, as this Echo Show feels like an alarm clock.

Amazon has upgraded the camera, doubling the resolution from 1-megapixel to 2-megapixels, but you don’t get the 13-megapixel camera that the Echo Show 8 (2nd Generation) and Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation) have.

Video quality is improved, then, but the camera can’t follow you around, keeping you centre of the frame automatically. Admittedly, for a device that will sit on your bedside table, you most likely won’t need the extra resolution.

As with the other recent devices, you can view the Echo Show 5’s camera feed through the Alexa app, provided that the privacy shutter is open. Even so, a big warning appears on the screen to say that someone is viewing the feed.

It’s a handy little security feature, letting you keep an eye on a room while you’re away, but it only works while it’s light as there’s no night vision here. The angle of the camera and relatively narrow view also means that you get a restricted view compared to using the bigger Echo Show displays. Video also can’t be recorded and there’s no motion detection.

Sound quality

  • Surprisingly loud
  • A decent amount of bass
  • Can distort easily

The same sound system is here as on the original Echo Show 5. There’s a single 1.6-inch speaker here, which doesn’t sound like a lot. However, it is surprisingly good. There’s a decent amount of presence with more bass that you might expect.

This speaker works well for general voice replies, podcasts, talk radio and for communicating with someone at the other end of your Ring Doorbell. It’s not too bad for the occasional bit of music, although there’s a fair amount of distortion and the mid-range is a bit garbled. If you’re serious about music, you’ll probably want a different speaker or to link your Echo Show 5 to your Sonos system.

Video quality

  • Decent screen for general use
  • A little low-res for video

The 5-inch display has a 960 x 480 resolution (same as, you guessed it, the original Echo Show 5). Given the size of the display and your usual viewing angles, the screen resolution is good enough for the touch interface, viewing additional information from a voice query (showing the current weather information, for example), and for using a smart doorbell.

Watching instructional videos in a kitchen is doable, too. Watching Netflix and Amazon Prime Video isn’t completely out the window, but the display doesn’t quite have the size or impact to make this worth doing on a regular basis. 

General quality is pretty good, with a bright image, vibrant colours and enough contrast, although highlights do tend to get a little blown out.

Conclusion

If you’ve got the original Echo Show 5, there’s no point in upgrading. If you don’t, then it comes down to what you want out of an Echo smart display. If you want a general purpose model, go for the Echo Show 8 (2nd Generation), as it’s more flexible. However, if you want a smart display for the bedroom, as a clock and way of interacting with your Ring doorbell and smart devices, this remains a great choice. It’s hard to fault this display given the price.

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Should you buy it?

If you want a full-on Echo show experience in a smaller, cheaper package, then this is a great buy. It’s particularly good as a smart bedroom clock.

If you’ve got last year’s model, there’s not enough reason to upgrade. And, if you want something with a larger screen for watching video on, for the Show 8 or Show 10 instead.

Verdict

Little has changed with the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) compared to the original, bar more eco-friendly materials and a higher resolution camera. For existing generation one owners, then, there’s no reason to upgrade. For everyone else, the Echo Show 5 remains a great little smart display, either as a budget option or as a useful smart alarm clock.

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FAQs

What’s the difference between the Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) and the first generation?

In short, not a lot. Both are the same size, have the same display, sound and processor. The newer model has a better camera and is made from recycled materials, but drops the 3.5mm audio output.

Is the Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) worth it?

The 2nd generation Echo Show 5 is a great smart display for new buyers. But a lack of new features mean there’s little reason to upgrade if you own a first generation Echo Show 5.

Does the Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) have a camera?

The Echo Show 5 (2nd Generation) features an integrated camera on its front.

Specifications

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Front Camera
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Resolution
Voice Assistant
Touch Screen
Smart assistants
Special features
App Control
IFTTT
Controls
Power source
Networking
Number of speakers
Output
Microphones

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