Amazon Echo Spot

The quick take

The Echo Spot is a smaller, rounder version of the Echo Show, with many of the same advantages — and missing some of the same features that are solely missing in that device.

The Good

  • It's a fun, great-looking Echo
  • The round display is a good size
  • All the smarts of Alexa

The Bad

  • No access to YouTube
  • Seems like it's a bit pricey
  • Do you want a camera next to your bed?

Watch this

Amazon Echo Spot Video Review

Awwww, it's cute

Amazon Echo Spot Full Review

What if you took the most expensive version of the Amazon Echo — one whose potential was essentially chopped off at the knees by a competitor — and shrunk it down a bit, lopping of $10 from the price in the process.

Because that's what you get with the Amazon Echo Spot. It's a smaller, slightly cheaper, and definitely cuter version of the Echo Show that made its debut in mid-2017 with a 7-inch touchscreen and the promise to bring constant and convenient video throughout your home. The Spot trades the angular body for a softball-sized sphere — and all things round are cute as hell — and a 2.5-inch display. And Amazon Alexa, of course, is tucked inside.

It's a great-looking Echo. But is this $130 device any more useful than the Echo Show? Let's take a look.

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Amazon Echo Spot and Echo Show

No flat tires here

Amazon Echo Spot Embrace the Ball

Take a softball and slice off the bottom, and then angle off another slice from the side for the display. That's the Echo Spot.

  • Price: $129
  • Size: 4.1 x 3.8 x 3.6 inches
  • Weight: 14.8 ounces
  • Display: 2.5 inches diameter
  • Wifi: 802.11n (dual-band)
  • Other: A2DP, Bluetooth out, 3.5mm line-out

It's a little larger than I'd expected. That's a good thing, though. Because even though the display is a mere 2.5 inches in diameter, you don't get the sense that this thing is undersized. It's also not perfectly round, hitting 3.8 inches tall and 4.1 inches wide.

But whatever. It's basically a ball. And round is cute. Friendly.

Up top, you've got the same buttons as on the Echo Show. (Though this time in the proper order!) There's an on/off button for the mics and camera, flanked by volume up and volume down. The four pinhole microphones are visible up here as well. On the back of the ball are two ports that look nearly identical. They're not, though. On the left is the power port (no Micro-USB for this thing) and on the right is a 3.5mm audio input.

And that's it. The rubber base keeps things in place well enough (the 419 grams of weight help with that, too).

Take the Echo Spot out of the box and you quickly get the sense that it belongs on a nightstand. And it does. But there's really no reason you couldn't put it somewhere else, too. It'd fit in just fine on a desk, I guess. But usage is going to be the same in any case.

There's really not that much to overthink here. It's the sort of mix of matte plastic and glossy face (which, of course, attracts dust like nobody's business) that we've come to expect in this sort of device — especially if you've seen the Echo Show. They're very much members of the same family, just with different designs.

Clock first, everything else second

The first thing you'll notice about the Echo Spot is that it's not trying to do too much at once. That's important because there's not all that much screen real estate.

But it is, first and foremost, a bedside clock. You've got options for analog or digital (I've opted for the former), and options for the background. You can use one of Amazon's artsy designs, but just like the Echo Show, the Spot is a decent little digital picture frame. So family pics it is.

Beyond that the Spot rotates through the same on-screen info as the Echo Show — it just has a very different feel thanks to the round screen. You get weather info on its own page. If your calendars are hooked into Alexa, you'll get that, too. Same goes for hints on things you can do with the Spot, and the not-so-useful trending headlines.

And you can do everything on the Echo Spot screen that you can on the Echo Show screen. It's just smaller. And round. Want to watch video? Go for it, just so long as it's not from YouTube. Hell, I can even fire up my Ring Doorbell camera and see what's going on, right there on the Spot. (Though the feed still doesn't pop up automatically when someone rings the bell.) Video calls? Sure thing.

Obviously, the Spot isn't ideal for watching longer videos. Or any videos at all, really — because there's a really good chance you're going to have a phone or a tablet or a television all within sight, and all with larger displays.

And while I'm tempted to say that videos calls are the exception to this, they're really not. For as good as Amazon is with them — and it's not a bad experience at all — it still requires the person on the other end to either (a) have an Echo Show or Echo Spot or (b) have the Alexa app installed on a phone or tablet and set up for video calls. Folks on iOS will already be using FaceTime, and Google's made inroads with Duo. (Plus Uber-popular apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have that functionality as well.)

Concerns? Look, if you're going to use this as a bedside clock, you're going to have to be comfortable with having a working microphone and camera in your bedroom. Trust the mute button if you want, stick a sticker over the camera lens. Or don't. I won't wear your tinfoil hat for you. I learn more toward the "let's keep the screens away from my face while I'm sleeping" end of the spectrum. But that's a personal decision. And in any event, the dimmed nighttime display and do-not-disturb function work well enough, so it's unlikely the Spot will keep you up after hours.

Amazon Echo Spot

Amazon Echo Spot

Should you Buy It? Sure!

At the end of the day, the Echo Spot is an Echo, just like the rest. Better in some ways, worse in others. And that means you're going to get out of it what you put into it. If you don't ever want to talk to a digital assistant thing or do any of the connected smart stuff, do you really need a $130 digital clock?

In addition to telling you the time and showing weather info, the screen is fun. I like having a digital photo album at hand and on display. It's still woefully underutilized in other ways — my dream of the Echo Show and Spot being a true visual hub hasn't come anywhere close to fruition yet.

The internal speaker isn't bad for the size, it's not as good as the new Echo or Echo Plus. It's good for a bedside alarm clock. (And you can always shoot audio out via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm line-out jack if you just have to hook it into a proper speaker.)

No, if you've got $130 to spare and want an Amazon Echo, this is a fun option. I'd go so far to say I prefer it over the Echo Show at this point, and that's because you get the sense the screen isn't just a waste of space. It's not trying to be a faux web browser or a way to watch video.

It's just a fun, useful clock.

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