Amazon is releasing a new Echo device today because apparently the 50-plus Alexa announcements it made last September weren’t enough. This new device is the Echo Show 5, which is essentially a much smaller, cuter Echo Show. It has a rectangular 5.5-inch screen, a camera, and a speaker that’s likely better than an Echo Dot, but not by a huge margin. The most important feature, though, is probably the price: it starts at $89.99. That’s less expensive than most smart speakers with a display.
It will come in two colors — “charcoal” and “sandstone” — and Amazon will also sell a $19.99 magnetic stand that will allow you to tilt the device, which will make it easier to show kids things in the kitchen who can’t quite reach the counter. But it’s more likely you’ll use it as an alarm clock or desk accessory. I got the chance to briefly listen to a song on the device, and while it seemed good for its small size, it confirmed for me that you’re more likely to want this in your office or bedroom than your kitchen.
THE CAMERA WORKS WITH SKYPE, AMAZON’S DROP-IN FEATURE, OR NOT AT ALL IF YOU COVER IT WITH THE SHUTTER
Then again, people get justifiably nervous about putting anything with a camera in their bedroom. To assuage those concerns, Amazon put a physical, visible shutter switch on the device. The visible part really does matter. You can just see that the camera is covered and off directly. Other devices may physically disable the camera with a switch, but you have to look at the screen to know whether it’s been disabled.