By default Alexa displays the clock face and scrolls through inane celebrity news items, but you can dive into the settings to kill this and explore other options like displaying reminders, calendar appointments and your photo library.
You can also ask Alexa to show news bulletins, how-to videos from wikiHow and the live view from your security cameras. The widescreen is well-suited to watching Amazon Prime Video, but you miss out on Netflix and YouTube. Unfortunately the limited viewing angles and slightly tilted screen means the picture doesn’t look its best if you’re lying in bed looking up at the screen.
The Show 5’s extra bulk also allows for surprisingly full-bodied sound, which is pretty good for a clock radio even if it’s a tad bass-heavy and murky. If you want better sound you can connect an external speaker via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio cable.
There’s a built-in camera, which supports video calls but might not be welcome in some bedrooms unless you’re up for callers last thing at night or first thing in the morning. There’s a “Do Not Disturb” mode but things could get awkward if you enable the “Drop In” feature, which automatically answers incoming video calls from select family and friends.
Thankfully there’s a physical lens cover, along with a switch which kills both the camera and microphone when you’re after a bit more privacy.
As an alarm clock the Show 5 ticks most boxes, with a wide selection of clock faces and the option to include the date and weather. The ambient lighting feature automatically dims the screen after dark, although not as dim as you might prefer unless you choose your clock face with care.
There’s a reasonable selection of alarm sounds, or Alexa can wake you with your music from Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, TuneIn or iHeartRadio. The screen can gradually brighten to mimic a sunrise, and run routines, plus you can snooze by belting the top of the clock to buy another nine minutes in bed.
Alexa comprehends complex requests like “wake me up to The Rolling Stones at 7am every weekday”, plus Amazon has added the ability to create and delete alarms or control smart home gear silently using the touchscreen. This is handy when you’re trying to slip into bed without waking anyone, although it’s a shame you need to delete alarms rather than just toggle them on and off.
If your smart home is on Team Alexa, Amazon’s Echo Show 5 is certainly worthy of a spot on your bedside table.
Adam Turner is an award-winning Australian technology journalist and co-host of weekly podcast Vertical Hold: Behind The Tech News.