Amazon Echo Spot review: smart speaker with screen

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Amazon is absolutely ruling the smart home speaker-digital assistant market with another addition to its powerful Echo lineup. The Amazon Echo Spot turns the speaker thing on its ear, however by adding a small colour screen, and turning the device into a small round ball instead of a cylinder.
I recently received a new-to-Canada Echo Spot to test and review in my home.

Amazon’s Echo spot is the newest version of the Echo line. These connected speakers house Amazon’s smart digital assistant, Alexa, who you can ask to perform myriad tasks, translations, smart home manouvres and calculations.

Echo Spot is a brand new look: it’s about the size of a grapefruit and has a flat front with a 2.5″ colour screen. The Spot is designed to blend into your home and be subtle, hence the small size and low profile.

You can ask Alexa to play music of course, though the speaker is not quite as big or powerful as the Echo or the Echo Plus. Fortunately you can connect a different speaker if you wish, using the AUX jack.

The Echo Spot will handle the full array of other digital assistant tasks (head to tGC.com to read more if you’re not familiar) but it’s where this speaker differs from the rest of the Echo lineup that sets it apart.

There’s a camera built into Echo Spot and there’s that digital screen. The screen means you can use it as a clock, for starters, or to see info, like weather info adn news headlines at a glance. here’s what else is can do:

You can use it for video phone calls

See song titles or album covers while music is playing
Weather forecast

View the feed from security cameras and baby monitors

You’ll go through a few steps of the set up process and making things a bit easier here is the fact you can use the touchscreen to input your responses. You’ll choose your language then select a Wi-Fi network then connect to your Amazon account. You’ll select your time zone and then name your device. This process goes quickly, particularly if you already have another Echo device. Though you don’t need it for the set-up, you should download the Alexa app too, so you can take advantage of the other features of the device.

The spot is quite handy, and I found myself glancing at it to catch the time, or to see the temperature, and headlines.

What would in-home technology be if you couldn’t personalize it? You can choose from a variety of clock faces or backgrounds for the spot, or you can use a photo of your own.

Once you get started you can customize what you see on the screen and how things will look.

Go to the help and feedback section of the Alexa app then then select the echo spot, then Personalize your device.

You can also say, “Alexa, go to settings”.
You can select the different ‘cards’ that will display on the home screen. Cards are info screens that can rotate among the few different things like time, weather, calendar appointments and more. You can also choose to view curated stories, or a list of who’s available to drop in on if you have multiple Echo devices and want to use them as an intercom. Upcoming events, Notifications, and instant messages are also available to view.

One of the things I struggled with was, if we’re moving to voice assistance, why make a smart digital assistant with a screen? Particularly one so small?

One of the interesting features of the Spot is the ability to instantly view a camera feed, either from something like a baby monitor or a security camera. This would be an excellent way to keep an eye on the dog or the kids in the backyard, or while they’re playing in the basement.

I have the Arlo Pro camera kit at home, so I enabled use of it with Spot by enabling the Arlo “skill” in the Alexa app. To do this, you’ll go to the Skills section of the app, and search for your camera. When it comes up, select Enable, then you’ll need to sign into your account.

To access the feed, just say things like, Alexa Show NAME OF CAMERA

I also connected my Ring Video Doorbell.

Echo Spot works with smart home devices such as cameras, lights, TVs, fans, thermostats, and more WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, ecobee, Logitech, and others.

You can also make video calls to friends and family between any Echo Show or Echo Spot
or the Alexa App.

The Amazon Echo devices, including the Spot, are super responsive. They can hear my requests from all over the main floor of my house, which is about 1100 square feet.

I find Alexa to be a super responsive assistant, and the device has a lot odf skills I want, including the ability to controll all my smart home gadgets. I didn’t think adding the screen to this one was necessary, but it did grow on me pretty quickly. Though it’s small, its colourful and I liked the personalization options.
I really thought it was cool to be able to see my video feeds just by asking too.

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