Gadget Review: You finally get the perfect ‘Echo’ – News

18/04/2024

Published: Sun Mar 17 2024, 6:18 PM

Try, try and try until you succeed. Third time lucky. Two expressions that fit the bill where Amazon’s Alexa Echo devices are concerned.

Amazon has been at it for quite a while now, trying to build the perfect Echo, its smart speaker with in-built Alexa digital assistant. Several iterations of Echo Pops, Echo Dots, Echo Dots with clocks, Echo Taps, Echo Looks, Echo Spots, Echo Pluses and Echo Shows later, it has finally hit upon a version that, to use a simile taken out of the Lord of the Rings, is the one Echo to rule them all. The Echo Show 5 third generation.


Finally, after much trial and effort, the boffins at Seattle have hit upon the best iteration of the winning formula: A combination of good sound, great connectivity, useful features, a screen that provides information and simplifies the usage, and of course Alexa to top it all off – the very reason for the existence of Amazon’s Echo devices.

While it did take them three generations until they managed to seemingly perfect the Echo Show 5, this third generation of the Show 5 still remains a digital assistant smart display device at its core. Except that now that core has several layers of added tweaks, features and quality improvements attached.




To run through the specs first, at 5.5 inches, this third-gen has the largest screen yet in an Echo Show 5, but it is only larger by around 15 percent over the previous version, as is the entire device itself. However, this incremental increase in size makes it a device that is much easier to live with and also enables Amazon to pack in better-performing hardware inside.

So, while the screen resolution is a near-identical 960-by480 pixels to the second-gen, the third-gen now packs in a faster processor – the MediaTek 8169 B chip with Amazon’s updated AZ2 Neural Edge processor, improving voice-recognition significantly , according to Amazon

The slightly larger size also enables Amazon to pack in a correspondingly larger speaker, using a 1.75-inch driver in place of the previous generation’s 1.65-incher. While the size may not look much bigger on paper, there is a huge difference in the sound quality compared to all other Echo devices we have tested so far.

This is the first Echo where we felt the sound was as good and room filling as comparable products from dedicated audio brands such as Bose, not only in the volume but also in clarity and musicality. The bass is quite strong for such a small speaker and the treble is balanced.

The Show 5 also comes with dual-band Wi-Fi for connecting to your mobile phone and other devices and supports direct streaming. Placing it on our desk, we loved to work to the accompaniment of some great music, even though the excellent sound quality often interfered with concentrating on the work in hand!

With the Show 5’s design for placement at your bedside table as well, waking up to mood-elevating good music is now a given with the superior audio quality. We asked Alexa to set alarms to hits from pop, classical, Bollywood, jazz and several other genres and found it a pleasant experience to be brought back from slumberland with the pleasant sounds.

And it is indeed Alexa that is the star of the show in the Show 5. Amazon’s digital assistant was always capable, and now, with the Echo 5, it finds a device that allows it to display its capabilities – quite literally. The screen makes Alexa truly shine with visual response, giving Amazon’s trusty virtual assistant center stage on the device.

Need to know the latest scores? Want to see your calendar for the day? Need a quick tutorial on folding a fitted sheet? Alexa’s got you covered. Looking for a tasty new Ramadan recipe? Alexa shows you on screen how to prepare a new Iftar dish. The visual element adds a whole new layer of interaction, truly setting it apart.

In a great all-round package, two things stick out, however. Disappointingly, the Show 5’s camera is the same 2MP shooter as the previous model’s and its grainy images make for poor video calls. Also, it does not have features like zoom and pan to keep your face centered on the frame if you move around during a call. The device is also missing an audio output jack. If you get Alexa to search out your favorite bedtime music, the only way you can enjoy it is if no one else objects to it being played out loud.

However, these minor foibles can be forgiven for an amazingly accessible Dh369.99 price, which compels us to award it the first five-star rating of any Alexa device. For the Echo Show 5, the third gen is the charm.

Amazon Alexa Echo Show 5 3rd-gen

Hits:

– Superior sound quality

– Screen increases functionality

– Great price point

Misses:

– Camera

– No audio out

Price:

Dh369.99

Rating: 5 stars

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