Amazon Echo Show 5 review: This new 5-inch Alexa display costs under $100, makes smarter alarm clock

The Amazon Echo Show 5 fits nicely on your bedside table. It’s a pretty good smart display and alarm clock at an attractive price point of $ 90, which is well below the list price of the next lower competition – the $ 130 Google Nest Hub (formerly the Google Home Hub).

Alexa is as good as always, with a plethora of voice-activated features. Plus, the Echo Show 5 cleverly combines the best of the great Nest Hub – a smart home control panel and adaptive screen brightness – with the best parts of the new Lenovo Smart Clock for $ 80 ($ 80 at Best Buy) – Sunrise alarms and a customizable watch face. You can use the camera to make video calls – neither the Nest Hub nor the Lenovo Smart Clock have a camera. If you have privacy concerns, the Echo Show 5 includes a physical lock and a new feature that allows you to quickly erase your saved voice commands simply by asking for them.

Add it up and the Amazon Echo Show 5 ticks the right boxes to be the best entry-level smart display on the market. As for the overall experience, the Nest Hub is even better for the most part. The Echo Show 5 has made strides in terms of smart home touch controls, but the Nest Hub still offers a cleaner interfaceand it’s better to show your pictures, guide you through recipes, get directions to restaurants, and more. The Nest Hub’s steeper price tag is also mitigated by frequent discounts.

The sunrise alarm function makes the Echo Show 5 a better alarm clock. So if you want a smart display for your bed, go for the Amazon Echo Show 5. Otherwise, the Nest Hub still beats the model, despite a solid rendering of the latest Amazon smart display.

Crash the crowd of smart displays

Despite the name, the Amazon Echo Show 5 isn’t the fifth version of the Echo Show. The number 5 refers to the 5.5 inch touch screen. Amazon has released two previous Echo Shows, but the Echo Show 5 won’t replace the current second generation Echo show. The $ 230 smart display has a 10-inch screen and can now serve as a premium model from Amazon, with the $ 90 Show 5 added as an entry-level addition.

Oddly enough, Amazon already has a smart alarm – the $ 130 Amazon Echo Spot ($ 77 on Amazon). The Echo Spot does less and costs more so I expect the Echo Show 5 to just replace it, but the Echo Spot will stay on the market for now – just don’t buy it.

In addition to the touchscreen, the Echo Show 5 has physical volume buttons at the top of the triangular body. You can mute the microphone and turn off the camera with a single button next to the volume controls. You can also slide a physical shutter over the camera and still talk to Amazon’s built-in assistant, Alexa.

The physical lock is a nice touch, especially for a device intended for your bedroom. It’s also a shot at Amazon’s main competitor in the smart display category – Google. The existing Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera at all, but it does have the upcoming $ 230 Nest stroke max will and it will not have a physical lock. A button cuts power to the microphone and camera, but you can’t cover the camera and still talk to Google’s version of Alexa – Google assistant.

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The physical lock helps with a bedside device.

Chris Monroe / Tips Clear

However, the Echo Show 5 isn’t really aimed at the Nest Hub Max. Its main competition is the current $ 130 Google Nest Hub. Google also just partnered with Lenovo for the Lenovo Smart Clock. This $ 80 device includes the sunrise alarm feature, which has the screen flashing before your alarm time to wake you up. However, the Lenovo Smart Clock lacks some of the other traditional smart display features. Outside of some prescribed functions, you cannot watch videos, view pictures, or interact a lot with the touch screen.

Step into the Echo Show 5, which has all of the usual smart display tricks of a full-size Echo Show and adds the best parts of the Lenovo Smart Clock like the sunrise alarm. You can purchase the Echo Show 5 now through Amazon and it will begin shipping to customers on Wednesday June 26th.

Frills galore

Aside from the buttons above, the back of the Echo Show 5 has a space for the power cord and an output jack for a 3.5mm audio cable. You can hook up the Echo Show 5 to your own speakers if you want a more powerful sound. The fabric cover and sloping back resemble a full size Echo Show, only the Echo Show 5 is much smaller.

Plug it in to get started and the Echo Show 5 will walk you through setup. You can connect it to your WLAN yourself using the touchscreen. You have to use that Google Home app for the Nest Hub. Once connected, you can swipe down from the top of the Echo Show 5’s touchscreen to bring up a detailed settings menu that you can use to customize the watch face, play with the alarm settings, and more.

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Choose from a variety of watch faces.

Tyler Lizenby / Tips Clear

In general, you’ll need the Google Home app to change settings in the Nest Hub to make the Echo Show 5 more self-sufficient. In the Echo Show 5, you can also surf the Internet freely with the Firefox and Amazon Silk browsers.

Once you’re up and running, you interact with the Echo Show 5 for the most part using voice commands. The Alexa integrated assistant in Amazon responds to the same commands as an intelligent loudspeaker like the Amazon Echo ($ 60 on Amazon). You can search the Internet, make a call, play music, check your calendar, control your smart home devices and much more. Alexa is a really robust digital assistant.

After some answers, additional information will be displayed on the screen. Search for the weather and you will see the forecast for your area. Ask about nearby restaurants and you will see pictures. You can also use the touch screen to watch videos and make video calls. You can call other Alexa devices and check the feed from the connected security cameras. If you have one Video doorbell doorbell or the Ring door camerayou can speak to anyone on your porch with just one voice command.

The Echo Show 5 works with various news sites like Reuters for daily briefings. You can watch shows through Amazon Prime or NBC, and watch music videos with Vevo.

You cannot watch videos on YouTube with a voice command. You can access them using the built-in browsers, but it feels like a workaround. The popular streaming site is owned by Google and after a famous argument over a year ago Google has taken over the rights to YouTube from Amazon’s smart displays.

New show, new tricks

All of this is the standard tariff for Amazon’s smart displays so far, but Show 5 brought some new tricks with it in addition to the sunrise alarms.

Scroll left from the right side of the screen to get a new control panel that has shortcuts for alarms, watching videos, playing music, controlling your smart home, viewing your skills (basically apps for Alexa) and communication with other Alexa devices.

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From the other side of the drive, swipe left to bring up this context menu (note that the Routines button will likely be replaced with shipping the Echo Show 5).

Chris Monroe / Tips Clear

The Smart Home Control Panel has been revised. Before that, you could see a huge list of all your groups and devices. Now press the smart home button and Alexa will be better organized. You’ll see recently used devices first. The buttons above allow you to view your devices by groups you set up or by device categories such as lights, switches or thermostats.

Find the right device and control it with one tap. Tap the name of the device to see more detailed options like the brightness of a lightbulb. As before, when you control a device with a voice command, similar buttons and sliders appear without having to navigate the menus. For example, if you change the temperature of your thermostat with your voice, a slider will automatically appear on the screen that you can use to further adjust the temperature.

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The Smart Home Control Panel gives you an overview of your devices.

Chris Monroe / Tips Clear

The additional touch controls are a useful extra to get a quick overview of your home. They can come in handy when your family members are having trouble remembering what you referred to as various lights and switches. In the devices menu, you’ll also see a button to turn everything off – a great option for a bedside device as it’s useful when you’re ready to go to bed.

The other options on the control panel do what you’d expect. Video and music provide entertainment options. With alarms, you can quickly set an alarm time. Skills & Games shows you a list of options. With “Communicate” you can make an announcement, send a message, make a call or visit other Alexa devices. The Skills & Games button wasn’t ready at the time of testing. According to an Amazon representative, this shortcut will replace the “routines” in the image above when the Echo Show 5 ships on June 26th.

As before, you can make voice calls or video calls to anyone in your contacts using your Alexa app or Skype. You can also view the camera feed of another Amazon Smart Display in your account. The drop-down menu has a “Do Not Disturb” button if you want to turn it off for a specific device.

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