The Echo Spot is one of Amazon's most innovative Alexa devices — and it's on sale for $169 for Black Friday

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Avery Hartmans/Business InsiderThe tiny dot on the right of the screen is where your face would go if you were on a call with someone.

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.

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Lists aren’t optimised for the Spot’s display either, so by the third item, everything starts to get cut off.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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