Amazon’s Echo Spot is in an unusual position in the Echo family.
It has a screen, but not one big enough for serious video-watching. It’s small, but not as small as the Echo Dot. It can play music, but it doesn’t sound as good as the Echo or Echo Show.
So, what is it for?
After I tested the Spot for several weeks, I’m still not really sure. At launch, the Echo Spot’s primary purpose seemed to be acting as a smart alarm clock for your bedside table or nightstand. It can certainly do that, but it also seems a bit overqualified for the position.
The Echo Spot has Alexa. It can make video calls, play music videos, make visual lists and reminders, and play music. And – of course – it can display the time.
It does all the things a regular Echo can do, but it does them with a 2.5-inch touchscreen.
Here’s what it’s like to use the Echo Spot.
Here’s the Spot on my bedside table. On the surface, it just seems like a fancy digital clock.
It looks incredibly nice, though! In fact, I think it’s one of the best-looking Amazon Echo devices you can buy. The shape is ergonomic, the materials feel high-quality, and it’s about the size of a softball: not too big, not too small.
There’s a camera above the screen, and you can use it to make video calls — just say, “Alexa, video call Jane,” and it will call Jane. Even the software design on the Spot is modern and clean, as evidenced by the calling interface.
Video calling is fun and feels a little futuristic, thanks to the round screen. It’s rare to see any video displayed that way, which makes the Spot feel refreshingly modern.
But, the round screen is where the device also fails sometimes. Text isn’t always designed to fit in a round frame, so it looks pretty strange when displayed on the Echo Spot. Luckily, it’s a touchscreen, so you can manually scroll down to read the full paragraph.
Lists aren’t optimised for the Spot’s display either, so by the third item, everything starts to get cut off.
Here’s a moment from my morning news briefing. A video briefing is one of the advantages of the Spot — it’s like having a tiny TV next to your bed — but the size is also sometimes a shortcoming of the device. Here, you can barely make out the White House. What’s the point?
But the Echo Spot somewhat redeemed itself in the end. At first, I thought it was incredibly pointless to watch a music video on the Spot. How would I even be able to see Beyoncé on this thing? Plus, the square Vevo app — remember, no YouTube videos on Amazon devices — looks terrible.
But then I enabled full-screen mode, and here was Beyoncé in all her glory, albeit miniaturized. Sure, the full width of the video gets cut off on the round screen, but feeling like I was on a video call with Bey was worth it.
The Echo Spot may be a mysterious little device, but it can do all the things a regular Echo or Echo Dot can do, with the sometimes added bonus of being able to use a screen.
The Spot is also a great deal for Black Friday. While it usually costs $199, it’s on sale for $169, or a savings of $30.
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