Amazon may be saving its best for last. The Amazon Echo Spot ($129), available on December 19, is an absolutely adorable little voice-powered alarm clock or desk clock. We got a few minutes with it at an Amazon holiday event and although we have yet to test it, we have high hopes.
The Echo Spot is the last member of the 2017 Echo family to hit the market. Much like the 2017 Echo is a smaller, less expensive, and more decor-friendly version of the Echo Plus, the Echo Spot is a tiny, round version of the Echo Show.
The Spot, available in black or white, has a small, Echo Dot-like speaker on the bottom, and a 2.5-inch touchscreen on its face. The screen is bright and sharp, although it doesn’t look particularly high res. Colors are richly saturated, though. On the top of the orb, there are volume buttons and a mic mute button; you can also control the volume by swiping in a ring around the touch-screen face. Like the Echo Show, the Spot can show results from Internet queries, images from connected cameras, song lyrics, photos, or video calls on its screen.
There’s a little camera on top for video calling. (You’ll need to put some tape over that, if you’re concerned about privacy, this being a bedside device and all.) I think the mandatory camera is a pity, as many people want a smart alarm clock, but will have privacy concerns. A little spot of black tape can remedy that.
The Spot’s UI is mostly like the Show’s. The 2.5-inch screen is a touch-enabled, and you move between search results and updates by swiping. When it’s time to enter, say, a Wi-Fi password, a very tiny touch keyboard will appear. More than the Show, the Spot really needs to be controlled with your voice.
Despite its tiny size, the Spot is a full Alexa device, with all of the features and commands you get in larger speakers, like the Echo Plus. It will set timers, make phone calls, answer questions, shop for things, play music from various services, and employ thousands of third-party skills. Like its big brother, the Spot can play video from Amazon, but not from YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu.
Amazon claims the Spot’s sound quality is similar to the Echo Dot, although the 1.4-inch speaker is quite a lot larger than the 0.6-inch Dot speaker. We hold out hope that in our formal audio tests it’s not quite as tinny. On the back, there’s a 3.5-mm output to hook the Spot up to a better speaker, and you can also connect it to another speaker via Bluetooth.
Design can really change how you use something. The Echo Show is imposing. With its 7-inch screen, it’s a significant presence on a desk or a bedside table. It’s an ideal video device. At about 4.1 inches in diameter, the Echo Spot is cute. It doesn’t crowd the side table you already have three books and a sleep mask on. On your desk, it doesn’t get in the way of your work or demand attention the way the Show’s big screen does. It looks great with a clock face, but videos are honestly a bit too small.
If you’ve been using an Echo Dot as an alarm clock, the Echo Spot should be a much better experience. We look forward to testing it in the lab. Look for a full, rated review next month.