Echo Show vs. Echo Show 5

Should you buy the Echo Show 5, or spend more for the second-gen Echo Show?

Smart displays have made it possible for us to visually interact with voice assistants. Devices like the Echo Show allow us to ask Alexa to display things to us, in addition to telling us information audibly.

Amazon recently came out with an extremely affordable version of its Alexa-powered smart display, the Echo Show. But how does the new Echo Show 5 compare to the more expensive Echo Show 2nd generation? We break down the similarities and differences between the two smart displays.

Let’s talk size

amazon event smart home 2018 echo show 2

The 2nd generation Echo Show (full review here) measures 9.7 inches wide, 6.9 inches tall, and 4.2 inches deep at the base. It has a 10.1-inch screen, which is comparable to many full-sized tablets and large enough to watch movies or shows when you’re sitting nearby. The larger screen size is also ideal for gathering around and making family video calls to out-of-state loved ones, or to view recipes from across the room.

The Echo Show 5 (full review here) is significantly smaller than the Show 2, measuring 5.8 inches wide, 3.4 inches tall, and 2.9 inches deep at the base. It has a 5.5-inch screen, which is the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus. Unless you’re sitting directly next to the Show 5, the screen size is probably too small get a good movie experience, and, unless you have superhero-vision, you’ll want to be at a relatively close distance to the Show 5 when reading the lyrics to a song or your favorite recipe.

Design and aesthetics

Amazon Echo Show 2 Review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The Show 2 and Show 5 look similar, aside from their size. Both devices have rectangular-shaped screens and a thick base and a thinner upper portion that creates a triangular shaped body. The Show 2 and Show 5 both come in two color options to fit into your home decor: Charcoal or sandstone. However, the Show 5’s small size makes the device more inconspicuous. You can easily sit the Show 5 on a nightstand or on a side table, and it won’t attract much attention.

Sound and picture quality

Amazon Echo Show 5 review
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

The Echo Show 2nd generation has superior picture and sound quality over the Show 5. The Show 2’s screen resolution is 1280 x 800, and it has a 5 MP camera. In terms of audio, it has two 10 watt drivers with a passive radiator speaker with Dolby processing for better-sounding bass.

The Show 5’s screen resolution is 960 x 480, and it has a 1 MP camera. The difference in image quality is somewhat noticeable, but it is not as drastic as the difference in sound quality. Instead of the punchy bass and crisp tones you get with Show 2, the Show 5 provides very basic sound through a single 4-watt speaker.

Hub, privacy, and features

Amazon Echo Show 5 review
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

The 2nd generation Show includes a Zigabee hub, which eliminates the need for a separate smart home hub when controlling Zigabee-compatible devices or certain devices that require a separate hub to operate. The addition of the Zigabee hub may allow you to make some of your smart devices work better in tandem with one another, and features like Local Voice Control make it so you can even control compatible smart home devices (like lights and switches) offline. The Show 5 does not include a hub, but it does allow you to control Alexa-compatible smart devices just like you could with any other Echo device (like an Echo Dot).

Privacy tends to be a concern when dealing with smart displays, simply because they are internet connected, voice-assistant powered devices with cameras and speakers listening out for commands. The Echo Show 2 has a microphone and camera off button that electronically disconnects the mic and camera, while the Show 5 has a slider you can use to physically block the camera‘s view in addition to a microphone and camera off button.

Which should you buy?

The Show 2 is superior to the Show 5, which may sound counterintuitive when you consider the newer model is lower tier than the older model. However, the Show 5 also comes at a lower price… a much lower price. The Echo Show 2 sells for $230, while the Echo Show 5 is less than half of that price, at only $90. We’ve all seen this happen with other gadgets, like phones. Remember the iPhone 5c? What about the iPhone XR?

The Show 5, even though it’s newer, is not an upgraded version of the Show 2, but rather a version designed for a different market. It’s for those who would rather not pay for the best sound quality, the best picture, or the top-tier gadget. It’s for those who simply want a device that does the job without all the frills. If that sounds like you, the Show 5 is an excellent option for you. But, if size, sound, and picture matter to you, you’ll want to go with the 2nd generation Echo Show.

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