Hands on: Amazon Echo Spot review

This edition to the Echo family is a fun, versatile video device

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Amazon Echo Spot is the best-looking Echo product out there: a versatile, Alexa-toting video device that wants to be in your bedroom, your kitchen, your office...

For

  • Lovely form factor
  • Video is clear

Against

  • Round screen means video cropping
  • Pricier than the regular Echo

The Amazon Echo Spot was one of the more surprising reveals at Amazon's big Echo event back in September 2017. It was announced alongside the redesigned Amazon Echo, a supercharged Amazon Echo Plus and the Amazon Show which was set to come to the UK for the first time.

Initially, only a US release date was revealed for the device but now it's coming to the UK 24 January and we've finally got our hands on with the device.

The Echo Spot is a cross between an Echo Dot and a smaller version of the Amazon Show. It's a device that is extremely versatile – so much that Amazon hasn't really badged what it is. 

It's a smart alarm, a device to read messages and make video calls... it's also lovely looking.

Price and availability

The Amazon Echo Spot is out now in the US. You can buy it for $129.99 or for $152.50 if you pair it up with a TP-Link Smart Bulb. 

In the UK the Amazon Echo Spot is up for pre-order now. It will cost £119 or £200 for two of them. It will actually be released on January 24. 

Design and features

Looks-wise, it's a little chunkier than your average smart camera. The screen is small, at 2.5 inches, but it's nice and bright. The design of the Spot is one of the best we've seen from Amazon, though. 

It's certainly something you won't mind having on show in your home and has a better design than the Echo Show.

When the device was first demoed to us back in September we saw was the Echo Spot used as a smart alarm. You get the option to switch the faces of the clock, and there are a variety of faces on offer and a number of different alarms available.

Once you're awake, you can use the Spot to get your daily briefing and it will also show off video. So, if you fancy watching a clip or two from, say, BBC News or The Late Show, then you can.

Amazon has also made it so that you can have a song wake you up as the alarm. Or, if you prefer, a radio station. This is a new feature that has been added for the UK launch of the device, but it is something that will be available globally.

You can also read your messages on the screen and make calls. This is a new-ish addition to Alexa in the UK that's been in the US for some time now. 

Performance

We saw a demo of someone making a call and it made so much sense – their face pops up on the screen and you can have a chat, much like FaceTime. You can also 'drop-in' on people in your phone book (if you and they allow it). 

This works really well on the Echo Spot - there's a blurred image for 10 seconds or so, just in case you need to make yourself decent, then the screen will appear clear. 

Like the Echo Dot there's an integrated speaker and we were surprised with how good it sounds. Unlike the Echo Dot which is only really passable for things like chatting, the Echo Spot had a nice sound to it. You will probably want to hook it up to a better speaker system. But, if it is on your bedside table, then you won't complain about the sound.

Another way Amazon wants you to use the Spot is as smart cam monitor. We saw a demo where you could get a smart cam video link up on the screen – from a compatible smart cam – where it was streaming from a nursery. The stream on the demo was, again, clear and bright.

Early verdict

The Amazon Echo Spot does everything the Echo Show does but it all feels better in this smaller form factor. The design is great - it's available in black and white - and we can easily see the Spot being used in the bedroom, kitchen or even on a desk. In fact, you may want it in all of these places.

That's the thing with the Amazon Echo Spot – much like other Echo devices, Amazon wants you to have a multitude of them in your home so you always have access to video chat no matter where you are. 

Essentially, they want the Echo Spot to replace the Echo Dot. The Amazon Echo Spot is a little more expensive than the new Echo, though, and in turn much more expensive than an Echo Dot.

This is because of the addition of the screen. While we still haven't seen that killer Skill for the screen, it does enhance the look of the Spot and opens up the possibilities for it being much more than just a smart speaker.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.