The Echo Show 5 is the latest smart speaker to be added to the Amazon Echo device lineup.
In a nutshell, the Echo Show 5 is a miniature version of the Echo Show Generation 2. However, instead of a 10-inch screen, the Show 5 sports a 5.5-inch touch display, that enhances the user experience of Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa.
The list of features and functions on the Echo Show 5 is almost endless, from asking Alexa what the weather is going to be like tomorrow or setting the heating to 20C.
Of course, you don’t really need a screen for Alexa, or for most of what a normal Echo device can do, but the screen comes in handy as a visual aid — you’ll see answers on the screen, or album art from Spotify or Amazon music.
Alexa has been around for years now and since I started using the original Echo Dot, it has become far more useful and intelligent. Not only is the Echo Show 5 a good Bluetooth speaker in its own right, the addition of video to the sound really does make a difference. That being said, I feel there’s a lot more that could be done to further improve the video side of Alexa in general.
For example, you can’t watch Netflix, and although I have Amazon Prime Video enabled in my Amazon Prime account, it doesn’t work on the Echo Show 5.
This is a regional restriction, since it does work in the UK. I tried saying “Alexa, show me The Grand Tour,” to no avail. Also, when you swipe from right to left on the screen, it brings up a quick-access control panel for Communicate, Smart Home, Music, Video, Routines, and Alarms. When you press on the Video icon, Alexa always says: ‘Sorry, something went wrong, please try again.’
Although there’s no way of watching Netflix or Prime Video on the Echo Show 5, I don’t see it as a major disadvantage since I couldn’t see myself watching a movie on it. What’s more useful is that you can play YouTube videos.
However, you have to ask Alexa to open Silk, the built-in web browser first, and then launch YouTube. To play YouTube videos natively in the Silk browser, you have to type in the name of the video you’re looking for on the screen.
This works surprisingly well and you can log into your own YouTube account to access your channel subscriptions and favourites. If you ask Alexa to play a video on YouTube, the results are far from reliable and it could come from other sources like Vimeo, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but probably not the video you were looking for.
Video quality is not as good as a premium smartphone, but it’s still pretty decent, and the sound is far better than any smartphone out there. Despite the limitations, I found the convenience of being able to play YouTube videos on the Echo Show 5 really handy, leaving me free to do other things on my phone.
You can also ask Alexa to play video streams from security cameras such as Nest, Arlo baby monitor, and in my case, Eufy home security cameras. It also now supports two-way talk functionality with Ring doorbell cameras.
Although the Echo Show 5 has a good screen with decent viewing angles, it should only be seen as an assistant to the audio side of its capabilities.
As a speaker, it excels beyond its small footprint by producing excellent sound quality that isn’t tinny and has lots of bass for its size.
You get a few physical controls buttons on the top, including mic mute, volume up and down.
There’s also a physical slider that covers the front-facing camera for those who have privacy concerns. This is a handy feature, especially if you intend on using it in a bedroom where it’s a fantastic bedside alarm clock.
On the rear side, you’ll find the power supply socket, a micro USB input and a 3.5mm audio jack out, which means you can connect it to a bigger speaker or a stereo sound system.
You can link the Echo Show 5 to several audio services such as TuneIn, Deezer, Spotify, Tidal, or Apple Music. You can ask Alexa to play your favourite tune or radio station, which I love, but the added bonus of being able to see a visual with the sound is a nice addition.
Overall, the Echo Show 5 is well worth considering if you’re looking to expand your range of Echo devices. I love the camera for being able to make Skype or DropIn calls, but if you’re worried about your privacy, just turn it off or buy a standard Echo.
I do hope that Amazon improves and expands the video features and services, but even as it stands, it’s well worth the €99 tag.