Smart home enthusiasts are in thrall to Amazon. With the humble Amazon Echo having found its way into millions of homes worldwide, and expanded into a number of distinct models, it’s no surprise that the latest Echo to land from the retail giant – the Amazon Echo Show 5 – is already drumming up excitement.
But when we compare the Amazon Echo Spot and Echo Show 5, which will come out on top?
The launch of the Echo Show 5 later this month is set to be something of a refresh. The new screen-based Echo manages to undercut both the Echo Spot and previous Echo Show on price – Amazon’s other smart displays currently on sale – while still seemingly offering the latest and best of smart functionality to boot.
[Update: The Amazon 2019 hardware launch event was filled with new Alexa-powered gadgets – 14 of them to be precise – and we got hands-on time with several of them. Check out all the new Amazon Echo speakers, including the Echo Show 8, along with release dates, prices, and specs.]
Amazon doesn’t always do itself favors with the complexity of its Echo range, however. With a variety of speakers and displays varying from the minimal Echo Dot to the woofer Echo Sub, there’s a host of shapes, sizes and functionalities on the market, with new iterations of each coming out all the time.
That’s why we’ve put together this head-on comparison of the Echo Spot and Echo Show 5, with everything you need to know about their specs, pricing, and what the Show 5’s arrival means for the Echo range as a whole.
We’ll be sure to update this guide when we get to a full review of the Show 5, but if you’re unsure whether to get the Spot or wait for the new display, this guide is for you.
Echo Show 5 vs Echo Spot: overview
The Echo Show 5 and Echo Spot have a lot in common at first glance. Amazon has a tendency to make slight alterations between its Echo products to see which features are most important to its audience, and its range of smart displays is no different.
Both displays are screen-based smart home devices, able to play both video and audio on a compact screen.
The Echo Spot has been commercially available since late 2017, when it launched as smaller bedside alternative to the then first-generation Echo Show.
Meanwhile, the Echo Show 5 is a sibling to the 2nd gen Echo Show, which came out in 2018 with a 10-inch screen. (The ‘5’ branding refers to the new model’s 5.5-inch screen, much like the naming of Amazon Fire tablets).
The Show 5 launches on June 26, and will be available in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia – with models shipping to India in July.
The main difference between the two smart displays is their size. The Echo Spot has a rounded body and 2.5-inch circular screen, making it ideal as a clock face for a bedside table. The Echo Show 5, on the other hand, features a rectangular 5.5-inch screen with a curved back, offering a more traditionally-shaped display.
Otherwise the inputs are largely the same, with both having a touchscreen display, as well as physical buttons for volume control along the upper side of the casing.
Both models are available in black or white, and require a cabled power connection. They both have a Microphone / Camera Off button, allowing you to switch off any video or audio recording features when you’re wary of being spied on. The Show 5, though, comes with a physical shutter to make sure there’s no way of being filmed by accident – or possibly just to put you at ease.
The Show 5 is a clear winner for picture quality, packing in 960 x 480 pixels in its larger screen, compared to 480 x 480 for the Echo Spot. The quality of images and videos taken with the Show 5’s camera is also significantly better, with a 1MP lens compared to the Spot’s VGA camera (0.3MP).
The Show 5 also has a larger audio output, with 4W speakers over the Spot’s 2W equivalent, though we’re reserving judgement on the sound quality until we test the Show 5 for ourselves – the 2nd-gen Echo Show was a bit bass-heavy, and we’re hoping the new model goes for clarity of voices instead, given we’re likely to use it mainly for YouTube videos and calls.
Features and apps
The main draw of the Echo ecosystem has to be the Alexa voice assistant. Though not perfect, and prone to “trouble understanding right now”, Alexa is still a brilliantly convenient way to navigate music playlists and radio stations, hear weather information or news, learn trivia and definitions, and a whole host of other possible functions.
Both models have the same fully-fledged Alexa assistant that runs across Amazon’s entire Echo range – with the ability to make video calls to other Echo devices, display personal photos, and watch online videos on either model (you can now make calls to phone numbers in the US and UK, too).
It’s the larger size and resolution of the Show 5, though, that opens the way for expanded functionality, with a new integration with wikiHow that "allows you to access hundreds of how-to videos by voice" for day-to-day problems like cleaning specific spills and stains, cooking certain recipes, or any other number of non-domestic queries – though the Show 5 is being angled as more of a kitchen assistant than the Spot’s bedroom alarm clock.
It's worth noting that neither the Echo Spot or Show 5 run the Zigbee smart home hub found on the Echo Plus or 2nd-gen Echo Show. Zigbee is essentially a smart home network standard that allows devices from different manufacturers to play nicely with each other – meaning you don’t need every smart gadget in your house to be made by the same manufacturer.
This is less of an issue now: Alexa will work automatically with the likes of Philips Hue, Hive, or Kasa smart products – with numerous Alexa skills expanding this to Ring, among others. But if your device specifically works via Zigbee and isn’t one of these main brands, it might be worth checking their compatibility.
Perhaps most importantly, what’s the difference in price? The Echo Spot was previously the cheapest way to get an Echo smart display, costing just $129 / £119 / AU$199. By comparison, the 2nd-gen Echo Show retails at $229 / £219.99 / AU$349.
The Show 5, though, comes in at just $89.99 / £79.99 / AU$129 – making it by far the most affordable of the three, despite being twice the size of the Echo Spot. We would be very surprised if the Spot didn't get a price cut on the Show 5's release – especially with Amazon Prime Day coming soon after the launch – but for now the disparity makes it hard to recommend the Spot over its new sibling.
If you preorder two Echo Show 5s from Amazon, you’ll also get a $30 / £25 discount in the US and the UK respectively. Unfortunately the same deal doesn't seem to be available in Australia.
Which one should I buy?
The Show 5 sits around the middle of the scale between the miniature Echo Spot and 2nd-gen Echo Show, but with a far more tempting price point than either. Unless you’re specifically hankering after the Echo Spot’s smaller (cuter?) form factor, or the Echo Show’s larger 10-inch (and high definition) screen, the Show 5 should probably be the first port of call for a new smart display – especially as a hands-free kitchen companion.
The Show 5’s pre-order deal makes it a very tempting way to start your Echo family – though if you already have an Echo Spot or Show and want to upgrade, it’s well worth keeping the older models as well. Echo devices were made with multi-room functionality in mind, and being able to connect various Shows and Spots to a single network is a big draw of the Amazon ecosystem.
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