The Amazon Echo Spot is one of two new Echo devices equipped with a touchscreen, and while a 2.5-inch circular display seems like a welcome addition to its screenless predecessors, it turns out to be a lot less useful than expected.
The small screen is great for video calling, checking the time, and watching music videos, but it’s ultimately too small for any extended amount of watching.
The Echo Spot’s screen is impractical compared to that of the Echo Show, and its speaker quality doesn’t match the standard Echo.
That said, Amazon’s Echo Spot might thrive under very particular circumstances—specifically for those in search of a subtle, aesthetic nightstand companion.
- Sleek design that looks good anywhere in the house
- Smart home control with Alexa
- Useful display information like time and weather
- Simple setup and use
- Small screen that isn’t made for watching long videos
- No ability to set alarms without speaking to Alexa
- No way to disable camera and microphone separately
- No compatibility with streaming services like Apple Music, YouTube, and Netflix
Amazon’s Echo Spot has no direct competitors, so when considering pricing it makes the most sense to look at the product amid the growing stable of Echo devices.
At close to $130, the Echo Spot is considerably more expensive than the standard Echo, which costs around $100. On the other hand, the Echo Show is considerably more expensive than the Echo Spot, costing over $200 for the bigger screen and better audio quality.
Amazon Echo Spot Tech specs
What we like about the Amazon Echo Spot
The best-looking Echo device on the market
The Echo Spot is only slightly larger than the Echo Dot and it’s much better looking. It has a clean, rounded shape and a tilted screen that looks sharp sitting in your living room or at your bedside. Additionally, you can cycle between a number of on-screen digital and analog clock faces to find the best match for any room in the house.
The traditional Echo and Echo Dot don’t look like they were given much attention to design, and the Echo Show looks like it was pulled from the back of an airplane seat. So if you’re someone who values aesthetics in your smart devices, the Echo Spot is by far your best option in the Echo line.
Home automation made simple
As with other Echo devices, the Echo Spot gives you complete control over other smart devices in your home. You can ask Alexa to change the lighting throughout the house, adjust your smart thermostat, or display live camera feeds. If home automation is your goal, Amazon has a long list of Alexa-compatible smart devices that can all be controlled from the Echo Spot.
What the Echo Spot can improve
Amazon added a button to the Echo Spot that disables both the camera and microphone when you don’t want to be seen or heard, but there’s no way to disable just the camera. Amazon’s all-or-nothing solution forces you to leave the camera on when you just want to control Alexa via the microphone. This seems like an oversight. In fact, I ended up blocking the camera manually so I could continue using Alexa without wondering whether or not I was being watched.
Mediocre sound quality
The Echo Spot’s built-in speaker sounds better than the Echo Dot’s, but it’s noticeably inferior to the regular Echo. This wouldn’t be an issue except that the Echo spot is about $30 more expensive than the Echo. It seems like Amazon may have overvalued the usefulness of the Echo Spot’s screen when the company traded it for inferior sound quality.
If sound quality is important to you, you can always connect an external speaker directly or via Bluetooth.
My experience using the Echo Spot
Like most Amazon hardware, the Echo Spot setup was designed to be intuitive and worry-free. When I plugged in the device and connected it to my Wi-Fi, I was able to sync the device to my Alexa app (available for iPhone or Android, as well as on a browser).
Using the Echo Spot with the Amazon Cloud Cam
I was curious to see how the Echo Spot would integrate with the Amazon Cloud Cam I have set up in my house. I was able to pull up a live feed on the Echo Spot’s screen by saying, “Alexa, show me the living room.”
I could see this feature being useful for parents who want to keep an extra set of eyes on their kids from another room. This would also work with a doorbell camera if you wanted to check for delivered packages or see who’s knocking on your door.
The Echo Spot’s small screen limits video capabilities
The Echo Spot’s screen is useful for a select few purposes and mostly impractical for longer viewing sessions.
First, it’s nice to have the customizable LCD clock running in my house. Second, I found an analog clock face that looked nice in my kitchen, and I appreciated that the screen would rotate between the clock, the weather, and some tips highlighting Alexa’s capabilities. I also tested the video calling feature, and while it worked well, it wasn’t noticeably superior to my iPhone’s FaceTime.
But for most other applications, I found the screen to be more of a nuisance than a useful addition. The rounded screen cuts off about a quarter of the video, which became painful when I tried watching TV via Amazon Prime Video.
If you plan to watch anything longer than a music video or quick news briefing, you might be better off spending a little more on the Echo Show.
Roughly 30% of Amazon reviewers rate the Echo Spot at 4 stars or fewer. Many of these users report issues with the small size and limited functionality of the screen, which is the main feature that separates the Echo Spot from more affordable devices like the Amazon Echo or the Echo Dot.
Those reviewing the Echo Spot positively find it particularly useful when integrated with other smart technologies, such as indoor cameras, doorbell cameras, and smart lightbulbs.
Here’s what people are saying about the Amazon Echo Spot:
Positive user reviews
“What more can you ask for? A great add to the Amazon Alexa family. Easy to setup and works like a mini version of the Amazon Show. The camera features are nice if you like to use drop-in. You can also disable the feature in the menu if you don’t use the video portion. The device has an auto dim feature that can sense light so it won’t be bright in a bedroom if you want to use it for the alarm clock feature. Sound quality is also great for a small device. You will be surprised with the audio quality. Smart integration works well too. I have my Arlo cams and Ring doorbell skills synced and works flawlessly. If you want a smaller version of the show or a smart alarm clock that has Alexa features, you won’t be disappointed.” -George A., Amazon, 12/22/2017
“First smart device in my apt and I love it! Received as a gift. Had it set up in no time. Connected the Philip hue bulbs, cloud cam, and tp outlet with ease! Pulled them all into the Alexa app and was able to set up my routines in minutes! I have the spot in my bedroom and it can hear me down the hall in the living room to turn the lights on and off. Even picks me up at a very low voice when in my room. The sounds quality is good in my opinion and i just love that it has the touch screen with the clock face! The few things i wasn’t sure of how to set up i realized, i can just ask alexa!! The directions come up typed on the screen and alexa will read them to you as well. I’ve only had it for a day now but i’m loving it so far and know there’s so much more to learn!” – brelli, Amazon, 12/26/2017
Negative user reviews
“Great concept, bad result. The screen is poorly backlit and it is much smaller. In the picture, you see a round screen, but when you have a video or news report, that screen has the top and bottom 1/4 cut off. I had great hopes for it because I LOVE the dots and living with Alexa! The spot disappoints with its small size, dark screen, and finicky performance. Too bad. I had high hopes and loved the price. If it had been easier to see, I would have bought another one or two.” -MamaSama, Amazon, 1/24/2018
“Just initial impressions really. Not as great as the other two echo devices I have (Plus and dot). Software wise doesn’t seem as “smart”. Also, I’m not sure how excited I am for the screen. Uses seem a bit limited, at least so far. Not sure if it’s worth the price. In the Alexa app, unlike the other two, I can’t control the bluetooth options. I have to physically touch the device to get to the settings for that. It’s little things like that, makes you go “what happened here?” -James, Amazon, 4,4,2018
Do we recommend the Amazon Echo Spot?
It seems like Amazon has become more experimental with its Echo devices, which means there are bound to be some missteps along the way. The Echo Spot is an aesthetically sound device that tries to innovate beyond the traditional Echo with its small rounded screen, but ultimately the niche it carves for itself is just too small to justify its price.
If you want video integration, the Amazon Show is a better companion to have around the house, and for most everything else you’d be better off spending less on a screenless Echo.
That said, if you happen to be in the market for a smart alarm clock that can show you things like the news, weather, or your calendar, the Echo Spot can make a solid addition to your nightstand.
Do you have a favorite Alexa-integrated device? Let us know in the comments below.