Amazon’s Echo Show 5 takes up less space

Amazon’s Echo Show 5 has a 5.5-inch screen and costs $90.


Amazon

Amazon didn’t wait long after Google announced the Nest Hub Max at its May developer conference to introduce its latest smart display, the $90 Echo Show 5. 

But unlike the 10-inch Hub Max — a direct competitor to the 10-inch second-gen Echo Show — the Echo Show 5 is aimed at the entry level side of the smart display category. With a 5.5-inch display, the Echo Show 5 is smaller than the Echo Show, but only slightly smaller than the the seven-inch screen on the Google Nest Hub (formerly the Google Home Hub), the popular smart display Google released last fall. 

An even smaller Google Assistant-based display called the Lenovo Smart Alarm Clock debuted at CES 2019 with a four-inch touchscreen, and is expected to hit the stores this spring for $80. The Echo Show 5 appears to want to split the difference between that product, and the larger Nest Hub. 

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Read moreAmazon’s new Alexa features put added emphasis on privacy | Which Amazon Echo speaker should you buy? 

A nod to privacy

Like Amazon’s other smart displays, the Echo Show 5 has a built-in camera, but this time the tech giant included a camera shutter that’s integrated into the hardware, as well as a separate, dedicated camera and microphone off-button. 

Amazon also says it has added a privacy-oriented feature wherein you can say “Alexa, delete everything I said today,” and it will purge the audio recordings of your Alexa conversations from Amazon’s servers. This comes after reports that Amazon holds onto text recordings of your voice conversations with Alexa, even after you’ve deleted those audio clips. A US senator has asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for more information about its privacy policies, including how it stores information.

Amazon isn’t the only company dealing with privacy questions, though. Google is also facing questions for putting a camera into its Nest Hub Max device. Its original smart display, the Nest Hub, doesn’t have a built-in camera. 

Keeping up with Google

Other features of the Echo Show 5 include an auto-screen brightness feature built around an ambient-light sensor, which sounds similar to the same feature in the Google Nest Hub. Amazon also says it’s added a dedicated smart home control screen with more granular controls for any connected thermostats, light bulbs or other devices you’ve paired with Alexa. This is also similar to the smart display software Google introduced with the Nest Hub last year. 

The Echo Show 5 can handle all the standard Alexa commands as well, like asking Alexa general questions or the local weather forecast and to play your favorite podcast. You’ll be able to view your security camera’s video feed through the screen and also carry on a two-way conversation with your Ring doorbell — features limited to Amazon’s screen-equipped displays.

Amazon also promises upcoming support for WikiHow on the Echo Show 5, which should make it possible to get simple answers to questions like “Alexa, how do I clean my electric cooktop?” 

Available next month

Amazon plans to ship its latest smart display, which is available for preorder now, starting in June. 

The $90 Echo Show 5 comes in dark gray and white color finishes (that’s “charcoal” and “sandstone” to the folks at Amazon) and you can buy an adjustable magnetic stand as an optional accessory for $20. 

It’s a safe bet that the Echo Spot, Amazon’s round, 2.5-inch smart display is dead at this point. Amazon said it would continue selling the Spot for $130, but it’s hard to imagine it living for long next to the Echo Show 5 given the latter’s larger display, lower cost, and more privacy-friendly features. The Echo Show even creates some problems for the $100 Amazon Echo speaker, which has fewer features than the $90 Echo Show 5 and no screen. Maybe this will be the device that makes me rethink smart displays?


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