The Echo Show 5 Is The Perfect Addition To Your Nightstand

The Echo Show 5 Is The Perfect Addition To Your Nightstand

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CNN —  

Amazon’s entry-level Echo Show 5 smart display was already a solid device trusted by many, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the tech giant didn’t do much by way of upgrades on this new edition.

In our several weeks of testing, the Show 5 delivered the same results across the board. For the price — it’s now slightly cheaper at $84.99 and features an upgraded (though still lackluster) 2-megapixel camera — it’s an Alexa smart display worthy of placement on a nightstand, though we do ultimately prefer the $109.99 Show 8 as a more feature-filled option.

Who this is for: At $84.99, the Echo Show 5 is an affordable and capable smart display that is ideal for a nightstand. It gives you full access to Alexa for information on the fly, smart home control and a bevy of entertainment options.

What you need to know: Like all Echo devices, the Show 5 is deeply integrated into Amazon’s ecosystem, providing Alexa functionality and seamless access to Amazon’s library of movies, TV shows and music. In addition to keeping you entertained, you can use the device to control your smart home, like viewing a livestream from a Ring security camera, or turning off your Philips Hue lights as you go to bed. It also includes satisfactory privacy controls for those who aren’t 100% comfortable with an always-on and listening microphone and video camera.

How it compares: As Amazon’s entry-level smart display, the Show 5 is less feature-filled than the $129.99 Show 8 and $249.99 Echo Show 10. Those devices both feature more speakers that deliver better sound and boast much better cameras. (The Show 10 also has a new trick that allows the camera to follow you around the room, keeping the display front and center and you in the middle of the frame of video calls at all times.) If you’re looking for something outside of the Amazon ecosystem, Lenovo’s $39 Smart Clock is comparable to the Echo Show 5, but instead of using Alexa, it’s powered by Google Assistant. You could also look at the $99.99 second-generation Nest Hub, but that’s more in line with the Show 8 given the screen size.

Jacob Krol/CNN

If you’ve used any Echo device, there’s an immediately recognizable design here. The Echo Show 5 looks like the original Echo Show or a miniature Show 8. It keeps the triangular build, which enables it to stand on its own and makes it easy to interact with the 5.5-inch display. The backside of the Show 5 is still covered in a mesh fabric-like material used on the Echo Show 10, Show 8, Echo Dot and fourth-gen Echo.

Your core control buttons — volume up, volume down, microphone mute and a camera shutter button — all live on the top. Like the Show 8 or 10, flipping the camera switch physically blocks the lens and disconnects it. For those concerned with privacy, it’s a handy feature and can add some peace of mind, especially since it’s a visual reminder that the camera is off. The camera itself got a slight bump, but it’s nothing to cheer over. It’s now a 2-megapixel camera, which looks slightly less blurry but still doesn’t deliver a compelling experience.

Our main qualm with the camera has to do with the overall build of the Show 5. The actual tilt of the Show 5 makes it easy to use the touch screen, but it also makes the camera point upward. It might only partially place you in the shot, which isn’t ideal. Amazon didn’t opt to fix this in the 2021 model, so the solution remains buying a stand for the Show 5 to sit on.

The bottom of the Show 5 features a rubber grip that helps to keep the device in place, especially when playing music, while the included 15-watt power adapter plugs into the back of the device.

The star here is the 5.5-inch HD screen, which performs pretty well. With a resolution of 960 x 480, it can produce vibrant colors and offers a bevy of detail. Like in the original incarnation of the Show 5 in 2019, the 2021 model is highlighted by the built-in clock modes. Arguably, the Show 5 is best placed on a nightstand where the built-in clock faces can show their color and depth effects. You can say, “Alexa, customize my clock” to pick from an array of faces in several categories. Those include playful, modern, classic, photography and personal photos. It’s an entertaining feature that lets your personality shine through. You can control which clock is shown via your voice or in settings with touch. You can choose to show the date or weather and customize the color of backgrounds.

Those who want the classic Echo Show home screen of trending topics, news alerts and Amazon order updates can still select that mode. You can even switch back and forth on the flow, which allows the Show 5 to still be a multi-mode device.

Jacob Krol/CNN

If you’re looking for an Echo Show that’s ideal for video calling, we’d look at the Show 8 or the rotating Show 10. The Show 5 doesn’t perform strongly in this area because its 2-megapixel camera lens doesn’t always get the lighting right, it can deliver a blurry, pixelated image and it tends to skew colors. (Some test shots embedded below.) Yes, it’s an improveme

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