Like other Alexa devices you can also activate smart home products or create routines with the Echo Show 5, or have it read you the news or a summary of your email messages. If you use it as an alarm clock you can set it to lighten your room gradually with its screen before you wake to simulate a sunrise. You can also display video feeds from connected cameras such as those from Ring or Arlo.
The Show 5 has a HD camera on the front so you can make video calls to other Echos, Amazon’s Alexa app or Skype contacts. This will be a pro or a con depending on how much visual information you like your internet-connected smart speakers to have access to.
For the privacy-minded, the Echo Show 5 includes a mute switch that disables the microphone and camera, but if you don’t trust that there’s also a physical cover you can shut over the camera as well. And Amazon says it’s introducing new easier ways to delete the recordings it keeps of your voice commands, including the ability to say “Alexa, delete what I just said” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today”.
Google and Amazon each launched smart displays in Australia for the first time last year, with the main difference (aside from the smart ecosystems they tapped into) being size. Now that Google is launching the Nest Home Max, and Amazon the Echo Show 5, both companies will offer smart displays big and small. The Nest Hub Max also has a camera, for video calls over Google’s Duo service.