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Review: Amazon Echo Spot

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Amazon has defined the smart speaker space with its range of Echo devices which serve as speakers of varying size and quality and also work as conduits to smart home systems, entertainment, online search and news and music playback. With a 72 per cent market share in the US and a growing global presence, Amazon’s Echo devices are far from peaking. Thanks to various partnerships, Alexa is shipping on even more devices such as desktop PCs, high end hi-fi speakers and even in-car infotainment devices.

One of the latest devices from market leader Amazon is the Echo Spot which is a smart speaker that also packs a clever 2.5-inch display as well as a camera for video conferencing.  Echo Spot can do everything other Echo speakers can, but it uses the display to show useful information, play back video from YouTube or Amazon Prime Video as well as visualize various responses (i.e. album art for music playback, news briefs, weather updates and other useful information.

Designed to be a desk gadget or a replacement for your old alarm clock, I see the Echo Spot as the next generation of these smart assistants (Google is coming up with its own display-enabled devices as well). We’re slowly seeing assistants gain more definition, from voice and speakers, to an interactive screen and camera.


Older smart speakers can hear you, the Amazon Echo Spot can also see you.  This makes it potentially more useful since you can now monitor remote connected cameras, video call other Echo Spot users, take photos and possibly use the device as a facial recognition tool.

Adding a small display really changes the character of the Echo, makes it feel friendlier, more like a robot than just a speaker. I think that for many users, the Echo Spot can replace three or four devices quite easily.


Now, this doesn’t mean everything is perfect with the Amazon Echo Spot. It is still a new fork of the Alexa family and some users will be creeped out by a device that’s always listening, and which now has a camera. We’re hearing that these smart assistants can be made to hear commands hidden in music or other types of audio which will trigger certain functions. This is both unwanted and scary to any level of user.

There’s also the trust factor at stake. All the Echo devices are made by Amazon, possibly to help sales of items from Amazon.com. We can assume that part of the process is how the Echo devices save all our interactions and use machine learning to better help to sell us things.

Personally, I like the Echo Dot over its speaker only counterparts because it is useful even when you don’t want to speak to it. I like seeing brief news flashes, the current weather and the time in various entertaining ways. While sound quality is decent for a device of this size, I like that I can plug in external speakers for louder, more defined music playback. I like seeing album art for the songs I am listening to and the short news briefs that play video are also cool features. Its hard to consider going back to a non-screen Echo on my work desk.

The Amazon Echo Dot is a delightful evolution of the smart speaker. While the small display isn’t big enough to watch video for prolonged periods of time, it’s cool to see trailers, news briefs and sports highlights and not just hear them. The Echo Spot definitely has advantages over audio-only models even though I expect users to question the placement of a camera on such a device.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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