Google has done wonders for the smart home space. It might not have been first — Amazon will forever hold that crown — but it more than made up for lost time with Google Assistant and the Google Home and/or Nest line of products. (OK, just so long as we're not talking about Google's continued struggles with maintaining a brand.)
Google pulled even with the original Google Home and Google Home Mini speakers. They're as capable as Amazon Echo speakers, comparable in price, and for many of us they simply perform better. (Google Home Max was prohibitively expensive, but that doesn't mean it's a bad product.)
Turn to video, and Amazon was first out the gate with the original Echo Show. Also not a bad product, but it was certainly kneecapped when it lost access to the biggest video repository in the world (and the only one that really matters) — YouTube. The Lenovo Smart Display, Nest Hub (nee Google Home Hub) and the upcoming Nest Hub Max certainly hold their own.
But now that it's announced the $90 Echo Show 5, Amazon's hitting back. Hard.
A more diminuitive Echo Show.
The Echo Show 5 has a 5.5-inch display, a camera and everything else Alexa can throw at it. It'll be released in late June 2019.
Echo Show 5 vs. Nest Hub
This is the obvious comparison, even if it's not quite apples to apples. The display on the Echo Show 5 about an inch and a half smaller than the Nest Hub. But there's a $40 difference in price. That's going to be a wide gulf for a lot of folks to make up — and that's before you remember that the Echo Show 5 has a camera, and the Nest Hub does not. (Though it remains to be seen just how much video chatting anyone actually does on these devices.)
I'd still give an edge to the Nest Hub thanks to the seamless integration with Google Photos — it remains an excellent digital picture frame.
Things are really going to get interesting when Google allows YouTube back on Amazon products. Now you'll have a sub-$100 device with proper YouTube — which is something Google doesn't currently have.
The question is whether Google (and Nest) will drop the price any further. It's already come down once, to $129. Seeing a further decrease to, say, $99, would go a long way toward evening the playing field once more, and you can always find it cheaper if you look hard enough. Or maybe we'll see more deals with more Google Home Minis thrown in for free.
Small but mighty
This brings the best of Google's smart home offerings into a smaller package. Great screen, and a brilliant photo album. Home control. And no spy camera.
Echo Show 5 vs. Lenovo Smart Clock
There's not too much to say about the Lenovo Smart Clock just yet — you'll notice that as of this writing there aren't really any full reviews available. But even looking at what's been publicly known since its announcement back at CES in January, it's clear that this is a smart clock first, and everything else second. (If at all.)
And at $79 the Lenovo Smart Clock also is just $10 less than expensive than the Echo Show 5 — and the latter handles video and all kinds of other things on that display far better than we'll expect a smaller clock to manage.
I'm going to get myself in trouble for even mentioning this out loud, but you have to wonder if it's possible for Google to issue a massive software update that would turn this into something more than a glorified timekeeper. (And also whether it'd be more a matter of whether it's willing to do so and less of a matter of capability.)
In any event, it's not like the Lenovo Smart Clock will be the only Google-friendly device we see in this size and shape, right?
This is a smart clock. That is, it's a clock, and it's smart. Maybe not brilliant, like a full Google Home device, but it's definitely smart.
Echo Show 5 vs. Amazon Echo Spot
In terms of hardware, this is probably the more proper comparison. The Echo Spot his a small screen. It's round, though, and that makes things like video pretty awkward.
It also was sort of presented as a souped-up alarm clock that can do other stuff. And at $129 — that's $40 more than the Echo Show 5 — it damn well better.
So now we've got a newer device with a screen better suited for video, and with a third of the cost lopped off. It was a sort-of weird device then, and it's even more strange now that Amazon has something more traditional on the way.
So is the Echo Spot not long for this world? Or will it see a price drop? (Or both?)
It's round. Until it's not.
This is what you get if you stick Alexa in a softball, lop off an edge and stick in a screen. It works, but it's small and not inexpensive.
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