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Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen). The Echo Show 5 is the cheapest Echo… | by Tapaan Chauhan

The Echo Show 5 is the cheapest Echo with a screen, and it’s designed to be the perfect bedroom partner with Alexa built-in. And, while this smart display can do a lot more, that’s where it really shines.

The 2nd-gen Show 5 has been refreshed for 2021, and it still does its job effectively, but small upgrades mean there’s no incentive to replace your old Show 5 with this model.

If you were planning on hooking it up to some nicer speakers, you might think again about choosing this one over the original one (no audio jack here).

However, you might want it for the relatively improved camera (2 megapixels over 1). This improves its video calling capabilities with other Alexas (no Zoom here), as well as its capabilities as a smart security camera.

However, if you’re looking for either of those characteristics in your Alexa-enabled smart display, the Show 8 is the clear winner, thanks to a far superior camera and a faster processor. You’re getting a lot more bang for your buck for an extra $45 there.

We’ve been using the second-generation Echo Show 5 for a few weeks now, and here’s our full review.

Design and characteristics of the second-generation Echo Show

The design is identical to the first-generation model, with a few minor changes, such as a slightly altered camera shape that allows for a little beefed-up camera (now rocking a whopping 2 megapixels).

The 5.5-inch screen (which is actually smaller than most smartphones) with its underwhelming 960 x 480-pixel touchscreen is nonetheless surrounded by a large, thick bezel. The camera still has a privacy shutter, and Show 5 has the same cubic-shaped back that holds the speaker.

Unfortunately, the 3.5 mm audio port has been removed, so you won’t be able to connect this to external speakers with a cable like you could with the original Show 5 (which is still obtainable for $5 cheaper).

There are more colour possibilities in terms of design, including blue and a revamped white, as well as a chameleon green option if you choose the Kids Edition. For an extra $10, you can get a year of Amazon Kids + service (although you can add Amazon Kids + to any Echo device during setup).

Aside from the camera, there are no internal changes, so you’ll get the same MediaTek MT 8163 chipset processor as the original Show. The other adjustments, on the other hand, are software-based.

The new Show 5 has home monitoring (more on that later), a person recognition option for Routines, and a tap-to-snooze feature. Aside from that, it has all of the same features as the original Show 5.

This has a brilliant screen with a wide range of backgrounds and clock faces to choose from. We chose the latter because this device is suitable for use as a bedside alarm clock.

However, despite the fact that it supports Prime and Netflix streaming, the screen is not up to par for watching videos (but oddly not Hulu — which is on the bigger Shows).

The screen adjusts to the brightness of the room, so if you want it to dim when the lights go out, it will. Although, when used as a bedside clock, we found it to be a little too bright, especially when compared to the Google Nest Hub, which is an all-around better bedside companion.

On the top, you’ll find the usual controls: volume up and down, a mute switch that turns off the microphone, and a physical shutter that covers the lens and turns off the camera’s power — useful if you’re keeping it by your bed.

The speaker in the back, as it was in the original form, is quite remarkable. It’s not particularly loud, but it’s pleasant enough to listen to in bed or at work if you keep it on your desk.

The microphones, on the other hand, aren’t as good. The Show 5 (and its larger sister, the Show 8) are the least responsive to orders of all the Echos we’ve tested, possibly because the mics are directed away from you if you’re facing the screen.

When we asked Show 5 to perform something, around seven times out of ten, another Echo in the home responded.

The Echo Show 5’s size and style make it suitable for use as a bedside alarm clock. If you still have a Casio alarm clock next to your bed, this is a great update.

Simply said, you can use touch or voice to create and adjust alarms directly from the device. Then, with a tap or a command, dismiss or snooze them.

You can set up Routines to be triggered when you dismiss an alarm if you want to get fancy. With just one word or a tap on the screen, you can have Alexa read you the news, gradually brighten your smart lights, raise your smart shades, set your connected thermostat to the proper temperature, and start playing your favourite radio station.

We also like the sunrise effect, which starts 15 minutes before any alarm set between 4 am and 9 am and gradually brightens the display. It’s a gentle way to get you up before your alarm goes off.

When it comes to the alarm, we like how there are so many different alarm tones to choose from (you can only set these in the Alexa app, however). It’s always a laugh to wake up to the antics of The Grand Tour hosts (at least it was for me when I set it for my son’s alarm on the first day of school — it caused him quite a scare).

The tap-to-snooze function is a lovely touch. In tests, it gave you an extra 10 minutes of sleep without you having to say a word or blearily tap at the screen.

The finest feature here, though, is the one that we all love about Alexa: on-demand music and radio. Overall, the Show 5 has excellent speakers for its size, and listening to music on it is one of our favourite applications, particularly in a tiny space like a bedroom.

As an added benefit, if you subscribe to Amazon Music, the display scrolls the lyrics of the songs, making it a great karaoke machine in a kid’s room.

If you’re light-sensitive, the only true complaint as a bedroom smart speaker is that the screen is still a little too bright at night.

While all of the advantages of utilising the Alexa speech assistant are right and available (see our comprehensive guide for more information), the Show 5 falls short as a touch-screen controller for your Alexa-powered smart home.

You can access smart home controls for compatible devices like cameras and lighting by swiping from the right, but the touch interface is so slow and the icons for each device are so enormous that if you have more than a few connected devices, you’ll give up and use voice control instead.

In an emergency, the new Home Monitoring feature, which allows you to check the footage from the Show’s camera remotely using the Alexa app, comes in handy. However, the wedge shape tilts the camera up, causing you to stare at the ceiling. Only useful if Spiderman is breaking into your house.

If you don’t want anyone in your household to be able to check in on you, you can disable the Home Monitoring option. However, if someone tries to look in, the Show displays a helpful warning on the screen and gives you the choice to shut them down straight on the device.

While the 2-megapixel camera improves video calling slightly, it only works for Alexa calls (not than Zoom, as on the Show 8), and the wedge design, along with the smaller screen, means that everyone is looking right at you.

Person detection for Routines is also possible with the camera, allowing you to use the movements of a person in front of the camera to start a routine.

Create a Routine that plays “Dogs Barking,” turns on all the lights, and sends me a notification when a human is detected; this works best as a security feature.

We found it to be rather patchy when we tried to set it up for a home automation routine that switched on a ceiling fan whenever someone entered the room. For the camera to work properly, the individual must be directly in front of it.

When someone hits your Ring Video Doorbell or you ask to see the feed of your Blink camera, the Show 5 can pull up live feeds from any of your compatible linked cameras.

We found the feed to be a little slow to load, but once it did, it looked fine and the audio was clear.

5th Generation Amazon Echo Show

The Echo Show 5 is a fantastic small device that works well as a bedside alarm clock. However, the second-generation model’s minor improvements aren’t enough to make it a must-have if you currently own a Show 5. This small smart display is largely overshadowed by its more powerful brother, the Show 8. It’s an excellent choice for a child’s bedroom or a great bedside alarm clock for you at this price point. Look elsewhere in the Echo lineup if you want to utilise it as a smart home control screen.

PROS

  • A higher-quality camera
  • For its size, this speaker is quite good.
  • Video calling has been improved.
  • Option for home monitoring
  • Shutters for privacy

CONS

  • The touch screen is laggy.
  • Hearing impairment
  • There is no audio jack.
  • The smart home controller is broken.

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