Since their inception, Smart Speakers have primarily relayed users queries back to them with voice alone. Amazon’s Echo lineup has always had plenty of variety to suit different use cases and their latest release, the Echo Spot, expands that range even more by adding a 2.5″ display. Still primarily designed to perform many of the same functions as the rest of the Echo products, although not a total revolution, it does add some new welcomed functionality.
Small and spherical in shape, the Echo Spot could be mistaken for your typical bedside alarm clock and blends in seamlessly with your existing furnishings. Text and video look great on the 2.5” high-resolution screen which automatically adjusts its brightness relative to the room’s lighting. The speaker is better than the one found on the Echo Dot, so Alexa’s replies sound louder and clearer than before, but you probably won’t want to use it as a primary music speaker. Thankfully you can connect the Echo Spot to an existing wired or wireless speaker system via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm jack on the back. The Echo Spot also has an upgraded microphone array, with Amazon’s second-generation far-field technology, so it can hear your commands even when you need to speak softly.
Having said that, its interpretation of what you say is still not as good as that of the Google Assistant. For example, slurring “turn on the lights” to Google Assistant, will undoubtedly yield a better chance of having your home illuminated than doing the same with Alexa.
You can use the Echo Spot to make voice calls or send voice messages and use the camera above the front screen for video calls. The Echo Spot can also connect to other Echo devices, so you can instantly drop in and find out how dinner is going, or what time your significant other is leaving work. It can be a little intrusive, as the other party won’t even be given the opportunity to reject your call. However, it only works with people on your approved contact list, so it’s not as if any stranger can just drop in… but still.
We’ve been using Alexa in our homes and the office for a while, and over time we’ve been pleased that Amazon has delivered on their promise to continue to expand its vocabulary and services. To go along with weather and news updates, music streaming, and smart home control; it can now order pizza from Dominos, arrange an Uber ride, and plan your work commute with real-time traffic updates. The screen displays a lot of this information on a loop, so you won’t always need to ask it to read them. It also displays examples of some of the things you can ask Alexa, which is handy for those new to the platform.
One of our favourite Alexa functions is the Routines feature, a customisable series of events that commence using a set command. When an alarm goes off, you can let it know you’re awake by saying “Alexa, I’m awake”, which can then be programmed to turn on your lights, start the bathroom heater, raise the speaker volume and announce the weather forecast for that day.
Echo Spot Review | The Wrap Up
If you’ve been hesitant about implementing a smart assistant into your home, we feel that the $199 AUD Echo Spot would be a good first step. The addition of the screen makes Alexa just that little bit more functional and helpful. It is to us, undoubtedly the best Echo yet.