Echo Show 5 Gen 2 REVIEW
It might look merely like a digital photo flipper, but Amazon’s latest Echo Show 5 comes in very handy, reckons PAT PILCHER.
The Echo Show 5 (2nd generation) is Amazon’s latest and most affordable smart display. While it might look almost identical to its older sibling from 2019, Amazon has added a few nifty updates. But does this super-affordable smart display have what it takes to earn a place in your smart home set-up?
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On the design front, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the Echo 5 gen 2 from its first-gen 2020 counterpart. Virtually everything looks identical. They’re both the same size (148 x 86 x 73mm, weight 410g), and they both sport a 5.5-inch touchscreen.
When it comes to controls, there’s a camera shutter, microphone on/off and volume. Around the back is a fabric-covered speaker base with a power port.
There are a few small differences. The camera has been tweaked (more on this later) and the 3.5mm audio output of the original Echo Show 5 is gone, so you’ll need a Bluetooth speaker if you’re wanting better sounding audio. Amazon has also bolstered their green cred by making the new Echo Show 5 ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’. In non-marketing-speak, this means it’s made from 30 per cent recycled plastics, 100 per cent recycled fabric and recycled die-cast aluminium. The packaging is also made of 99 per cent wood-fibre-based materials, meaning less plastic ends up at the tip.
Perhaps the most useful upgrade to the Echo Show 5 is its camera. The shooter now has a 2MP sensor, double the resolution of the gen 1 Echo Show 5. The upside of this is that drop-in calls look a lot crisper, and security monitoring works like a charm.
A natural question for many with the Echo Show is this: Why would I pay more for a screen when you can get a smart speaker for so much less? It’s a good question.
Like the Echo speaker range, the Echo Show comes with Alexa built-in. Alexa gives you a hands-free way to set timers, use smart lights, get weather forecasts (which are woefully inaccurate for NZ), and Spotify playback. Having a screen also means you can see what Alexa serves up. Saying “Alexa, play One News” gives you the latest One News bulletin. If you have a Ring Video Doorbell and/or Arlo cameras, you can also see who’s at the door or lurking around your property on the screen. The Echo Show 5 gen 2 proved to be insanely useful, and I’d use it over a smart speaker in a flash.
It is still very much a voice-driven device. Uttering the magic “Alexa” wake-word will have her doing your bidding in no time flat. Dismissing timers and other tasks can also be done using the Echo Show 5’s touch screen. Swiping left helps you access connected smart devices. Swiping downwards gets you into the settings menu.
When the Echo Show 5 goes into standby, you can choose what is displayed on its screen. These can range from slideshows of photos from your Amazon and Facebook accounts or other useful info such as reminders and weather, news and so on.
Given that it’s positioned as Amazon’s affordable smart display, some features are absent. It lacks the pan and tilt camera of the Echo Show 8, and a Zigbee hub is also MIA. None of these will hugely affect your experience, especially as the Echo Show 5 Gen 2 retails for a pocket pleasing $139.
If you’re looking to step up from an Echo smart speaker, but are on a budget (or if you want an Echo smart screen for use in another room), the echo show 5 gen 2 might just be what the doctor ordered.