Hands on: Amazon's compact Echo Show 5 smart display
Not to be outdone, Amazon recently launched its answer to the Lenovo Smart Clock, the Echo Show 5 — coming in much cheaper than other Alexa-equipped smart displays.
Despite the name, the Show 5 is actually Amazon's third Show speaker — and that doesn't count the Echo Spot. Instead its name derives from its screen, which measures 5.5 inches.
For the most part the Show 5 is no different from its siblings. It accepts just about any Alexa command you can think of, and some that only work with a Show or Spot, such as viewing compatible security cameras or watching Prime Video. Some non-specific commands are enhanced by extra information, such as recipes and weather.
Much like the Smart Clock, there are notable interface changes to accommodate a smaller display and bedside use. The GUI is more explicitly clock-centric for example, and there's a "sunrise alarm" that will slowly brighten the display starting 15 minutes before an alarm set between 4 and 9 a.m. You can even slap the top of the device to snooze, again like the Smart Clock.
Amazon's software is a more little cumbersome to navigate though, for instance burying the option to use personal photos as backgrounds within several layers of menus. If you want to access any media and smarthome options without voice, you have to swipe left from the right side of the screen, tap the correct category, and then browse.
The Show 5 definitely wins in one category: video. It not only supports Prime Video but NBC, a wider array of security cameras, and even YouTube — though you have to launch Firefox (yes, Firefox) by voice to access it. In theory other Web-based video services should work as well. How Lenovo could omit YouTube from a Google-based product is beyond me.
The 5 also has a camera for video calls, which seems a little unnecessary and intrusive in the bedroom. The good news is that there's a physical camera shutter, and naturally you can mute the mic as well.
We'll have a complete review of the Echo Show 5 in the near future. Amazon is selling the product for $89.99 in charcoal and sandstone colors.