Amazon Echo Spot Review: Echo Dot gets screen smarts

If audio quality isn’t a deal breaker, Amazon’s Echo Spot is a refreshingly compact smart speaker. Boasting Alexa skills and a dinky screen for video calls and more, the Echo Spot works well in any room of your connected home. Here’s our full Echo Spot UK review, including a look at the setup process and various features.

By this point, we’ve pretty much lost count of how many smart speakers Amazon has released. Its Echo range first launched back in 2016 and since then we’ve seen Alexa packed into devices of all shapes and sizes.

Last year we had the first smart speaker boasting a display: the Echo Show. This allowed users to make video calls as well as packing all of the usual functionality, such as music streaming and controlling you connected smart home goodies. Now the Show is joined by the Echo Spot, serving up the same features in a significantly smaller package.

Check out our smart speakers hub for all of our device reviews and guides, including our round-up of the best smart speakers in 2018.

Amazon Echo Spot review: Design and setup

The Echo Spot is roughly the size and shape of one of those magic eight balls from back in the day. That spherical finish helps it to stand out from most other cylindrical smart speakers, as well as looking pretty damn cute. You can grab the Spot in either white or black, to fit your choice of home decor. Of course, the device is so compact that it already blends in effectively, no matter where you stick it.

Although it’s tiny, Amazon’s latest smart speaker still packs a decent heft. The 420g weight ensures that it won’t go skidding across your work surface if accidentally knocked. You also get a rubber foot on the bottom, which adds some grip.

Like the other Echo devices, you get some touch buttons up top. These can be used to change the volume of the Spot, or disable Alexa. Both of those functions can also be performed with voice commands too of course, but the flexibility is welcome.

Check out our full unboxing and setup video below for a close-up look at this speaker’s design and installation. We also take a tour of the main features, so you know what to expect.

Amazon Echo Spot review: Screen and features

Alexa is, as always, the star of the show here. She can be called up at any time simply by saying ‘Alexa’, followed by your command. From streaming media to ordering a pizza and activating your smart home gadgets using just your voice, her abilities are impressive and always expanding.

Check out our Amazon Echo tips and tricks guide, as well as our guide to the latest Alexa updates, to see what this smart assistant is capable of.

Where the Spot differentiates itself from the majority of the Echo family is that 2.5-inch circular display. This seems rather pokey when compared with the 7-inch screen of the Echo Show, which was the first Amazon smart speaker to rock a display.

Still, the Spot’s panel is perfectly bright and displays a wealth of information. You can customise the clock face and wallpaper, while the likes of today’s biggest headlines and a weather report can also be displayed. The screen also comes in handy for timers, calendar reminders and other Alexa requests. You no longer have to rely on her spoken updates.

One of the best uses for that screen is the video call feature, however. This allows you to chat with a buddy or family member who also has a supported Alexa speaker, or the Alexa app. That tiny camera can capture your face, while the built-in mics clearly pick up your voice, even from a distance.

You can even watch movies and shows from Amazon’s Prime Video service on that minuscule display. We’d recommend skipping this feature however, as the screen really is too tiny for the task. Not to mention the wrong shape.

Amazon Echo Spot review: Audio

Although it’s compact, the Echo Spot boasts four far-field mics positioned around the top. These can pick up your commands from across the room, without the need for screaming. We had no problems with accuracy or responsiveness. Even noisy environments didn’t confuse the speaker, so you can happily position it in a busy kitchen or other raucous rooms.

Sadly the Spot’s audio output is rather weak also, as you might expect given the small stature. Like the similarly tiny Echo Dot, we certainly wouldn’t recommend playing music directly through this device. That’s no biggie however, as long as you already have a decent speaker at home. You can connect the Spot to a bigger blaster using Bluetooth or a 3.5mm jack, so all audio is relayed through your dedicated speaker instead. Problem solved.

Amazon Echo Spot review: Verdict

If you want a compact, subtle smart speaker which provides visual feedback on top of the usual voice control, the Echo Spot is one of your only options right now. So just as well that it’s everything we hoped for.

That low asking price means it’ll serve nicely as a secondary speaker, to spread the Alexa influence around your home. Of course, if music streaming is big on your list of needs, you’ll want to hook it up to a dedicated blaster. Otherwise, brace yourself for some rather tinny sound.