- New function for making calls to mobile and landlines within the UK.
- TV streaming from services such as BBC iPlayer
- Screen brings great new functionality
- Needs to be connected to mains to work
- Speakers could be better
Price at time of review: £70
The Echo Show 5 from Amazon is one of the neatest implementations of the company’s voice activated touch screen for homes so far.
This product has been designed, primarily with existing Prime customers in mind, but it’s also a compelling stepping stone for people looking to get a foothold in Amazon’s comprehensive ecosystem. What makes it so tempting? Because it’s so simple. The Echo Show 5 sports a basic, intuitive control layout and even features a physical camera cover and microphone for the privacy conscious. It’s well thought out, family friendly and easy on the eye. Also, you don’t need to be an Amazon Prime customer to enjoy its basic functions. However, having a prime account will allow you to get the most out of it.
The Amazon Echo Show 5 comes with all of the benefits and convenience of the Echo dot and other similar voice activated smart home assistance speakers. However, it has the added benefit of possessing a touchscreen. The inclusion of a screen makes the Echo Show 5 significantly more versatile than many of its speaker-based counterparts.
Amazon Echo Show 5 – Design
All-screen on the front, albeit with a large bezel, the Show 5 doesn’t feel overly designed. It’s a case of form follows function. The body of the speaker is covered by a light fabric, giving it a homely feel. That’s about it.
The screen of the Show 5 is a basic LCD panel that’s comparable in size to the iPhone 8 Plus. It won’t blow you away, but it holds up when viewing at an angle and it’s perfectly adequate for viewing streamed TV shows, tutorial and music videos while doing the cooking for example. As with most smart devices, the Show 5 can detect ambient brightness and adjust itself automatically depending on available light in the room. Lighting can also be adjusted by pulling down from the top of the screen, just like one would with a smartphone or tablet.
Amazon Echo Show 5 – In-Use
Controlling the Echo Show 5 is mostly done using voice, even though it has a touchscreen. It comes with Amazon’s smart home hub, accessible via the Amazon app which will allow it to connect with specific smart products around the house. This connectivity gives you the power to control everything from your kettle and smart plugs, to locks and lights by calling out orders to Alexa.
Connecting the Show 5 to home security cameras and monitors will also allow you to view your front door or a child’s nursery for example. It can also learn routines, meaning a “Good morning Alexa” could have the Show 5 turn on your coffee machine, raise the lights and start reeling of the day’s news and weather. The Show 5’s microphones pick up voice commands spoken at a typical conversation level, but occasionally fails to register commands. If you have other Echo products around the house, you can also use the Echo Show to make announcements, tannoy style. It’s not quite Tony Stark’s Jarvis, but it’s slick enough. Especially for the price.
Amazon Echo Show 5 – Conclusion
As is the case with most of these things, the Echo Show 5 shines when incorporated into a smart home that is embedded in its native ecosystem. However, given its screen and ease of use, it’s a great alternative to a standalone smart assistant speaker. There were still a couple of kinks in our review unit, with the occasional lag and repeated commands needed. It would also be ideal to have a native YouTube app for the Echo Show 5, rather than relying on browser. It’s little things like that, which go some way to make the Echo Show 5 a genuine tablet alternative.
As it stands, the Echo Show 5 sits perfectly in place of bedside clock and radio, or as a kitchen companion. It’s the best smart assistant/speaker option at its price point and almost a must-have if you’re already a Prime and Alexa convert. Our only real criticisms are that it could be improved by being truly portable and having more powerful speakers. But Amazon were at least kind enough to make it possible to connect the Echo Show 5 to external speakers.