Amazon first launched the original Echo smart speaker in 2014, but since then its Echo range has expanded to include the high-end Echo Plus, the screen-packing Echo Show and the teeny, tiny Echo Dot. There are now Echo devices to suit every mood, every room and every budget. But one of our firm favorites is still the Echo Spot.
That's because it has everything we could want from a smart speaker: cute looks, portable design and a video screen, which means it looks just as at home on your desk, your kitchen counter and your bedside table.
The Spot doesn't quite have the monopoly on compact smart displays as it used to, though. The new Echo Show 5 apes the rectangular shape of the larger Echo Show, but with a 5.5-inch screen around the size of a smartphone. At a lower price tag, too, it can be hard to justify the Spot in its stead – though if you're sold on its cute and quirky appearance, this is likely the model you'll want.
The best things about the Amazon Echo range in general apply to the Echo Spot too, including a decent price tag, heaps of functionality, and a voice interface easy enough for complete tech beginners to get a hold of. With that in mind, it’s no wonder the Echos have become essentials in a smart home setup over the last five years.
The new Echo Studio may be best suited to audiophiles who want to blast their tunes, and the Echo Show is probably best in the kitchen, allowing cooks to watch recipe videos on YouTube – but the Amazon Echo Spot is the sort of device that can fit in just about anywhere.
Of course this is all subjective, and depends on how your home is set up, but if you do want our styling as well as our tech recommendations, then the Echo Spot is ideal for sticking next to your bed, much like the recently launched Echo Dot with Clock.
But enough about its looks. Let's explore how the Echo Spot is to use, whether its circular screen is useful day-to-day and how well its audio quality shapes up against its rivals.
- Echo Show 5 vs Echo Spot: has Amazon's new smart display made the Spot redundant?
Amazon Echo Spot: design
With features and performance, Amazon's Echo Spot is much, more more than a smart alarm clock – even if that's the impression it gives off. For a lot of Echo Spot owners, chunky alarm clock may become the device's default use, but you'll find it's a lot more versatile than that.
In fact, the Amazon Echo Spot carves out its own niche in the Echo line up, and that's to its credit. The gadget's neatly curved shell does more than enough to make up for some of the design failings of its siblings.
So where the big, bulky and brash Amazon Echo Show tends to take over any area you put it in, for example, thanks to its black slab look and large screen, the Echo Spot is much more refined in its compact, circular design.
The Echo Spot is proof that the best way to do a desk-based video device is to forgo the TV-lite look, and just go with something that's compact and well designed instead. Tech companies, please take note.
If you had to place this in context in the Echo line-up, it's a cross between an Echo Dot and a smaller version of the Amazon Echo Show – the rectangular video-driven gadget that looks a lot like a miniature TV.
This is no Echo Dot replacement, though: the price puts it out of contention for that, and it's also a lot more versatile. To say it's a Dot with a screen would be doing it a disservice (sorry, Dot, we love you really).
Size-wise, it's about the equivalent of a mango. Sure, mangoes may not be the most scientific way to measure things, but at least it gives you an indication that it’s a pretty compact device with a curved back and screen that's angled up, making it easy to view.
The Amazon Echo Spot is a great-looking device, certainly something you won't mind having on show in your home... unlike the, er, original Show, which we always felt like tucking away on the kitchen counter.
Amazon Echo Spot: features and setup
The Echo Spot unit we reviewed was black but there's also a white one available. The screen is relatively small at 2.5 inches, with a 480 x 480 pixel resolution.
On the top of the screen there's space for a camera and on the top of the Echo Spot as a whole there are three buttons, which all sit flush against the surface for a really streamlined look.
Anyone familiar with the Echo range will know what they are: volume up, volume down, and a mic mute button – that last one disables the camera too, so it's the button to press for a little added privacy.
Plus, there are four small pin-prick holes too, housing the four-array mics that listen out for the wake word and for you barking commands at Alexa.
On the back of the Echo Spot you have the standard Amazon branding, a slot for power and a 3.5mm audio jack.
The speaker grill for the Echo Spot is right at the base of the device, which makes it invisible when viewing the device face-on. Bluetooth functionality is also available for streaming audio to or from another device.
Setup is similar to other Echo devices, except for this one you can type in your Wi-Fi details straight on the screen instead of going through the Alexa app, thanks to that handy built-in display.
Admittedly, it's a little bit fiddly putting in your details that way (it asks for your Amazon account password too) but the whole process should take less than five minutes. Then your Amazon Echo Spot is really ready to go.
Once your Echo Spot is up and running, you have the option to watch Amazon's promo video, which tells you what you can do with the device and gets you started. It's not a masterpiece, but it's worth sitting through so you get an idea about what you've just bought.
Then you get that warm chime sound, which means Alexa is online and ready to take orders. Once this appears it's a good time to read our best Amazon Alexa skills article, as well as follow the prompts that come up on the screen to find out what your new Echo Spot can do.
Swipe right on the screen at any time to bring up a whole load of Alexa commands you can use, which is a really nice way to learn what to do with the digital assistant. If you're looking for some fun and silly extras, give our Alexa Easter Eggs list a try, too.
These prompts can be turned off in the Spot's settings, and it's here in the settings where you can toggle home cards on and off as well (little blurbs of information that come up on the home screen).
You can have the home screen include your messages, weather, notifications, upcoming events, reminders, drop ins and trending topics.