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Amazon's latest offering in its smart speaker portfolio is the Echo Spot. It is company's second speaker with a display. The device retails for a price of Rs 10,499 for the Indian consumers. Echo Spot is yet another smart speaker that can be controlled through voice commands. But what makes it different from other Echo devices is its circular display. The screen shows the clock, videos, latest news and more on a single command.
To top it all, the company has also added a camera. It allows you to make video calls to other Echo devices and phones. That being said, all these features make our lives easier. But should you buy this smart speaker? Let's find out in our review.
The Amazon Echo Spot flaunts an almost spherical shape. On the front, we get a 2.5-inch touchscreen, while there's camera placed just above it. The bezel around the display is thick which trims down the screen real estate. But that hardly affects the looks of the device.
There are three physical buttons on the top -- volume rockers and the Alexa turn on/off key. On the bottom, you'll find a circular grouping of downward-facing vents which also serves as the speaker grille for the 1.4-inch speaker. The device has a 3.5mm audio jack on the rear side. The only other socket is for the power. Unlike the Echo Dot speaker, the Spot doesn't offer the luxury of running on USB power.
Amazon doesn't want people to think of Echo Spot as a conventional alarm clock. But, they had it coming considering the form factor of the speaker and selection of analog clock faces. However, it does offer the option to use digital clock faces or use any image as background.
Setting up the Echo Spot is really easy. Users just have to go through a short routine after they plug it in for the first time. After you are done connecting to the Wi-Fi and logging into your Amazon account - you will have to sit through a small video that shows some basic principles of communicating with the smart voice assistant Alexa.
Most of the settings can be accessed through the screen using the swipe down gesture. While few other things such as skills and connections to other smart home appliances can be handled through the Alexa app on the smartphone or tablet.
The Echo Spot comes with second-generation far-field technology with four microphones. It uses the acoustic beam-forming technology and enhanced noise cancellation that allows it to hear users from across the room even while music is playing.
The UI on the device has four main screens that show the time, weather, trending stories, and Things to Try. Out of these only, the trending stories screen is interactive wherein you can tap and get a quick read on the topic.
Speaking of Alexa, the voice assistant hasn't changed much in terms of her prowess to control the smart devices. Though it isn't the smartest of researchers, it does have few extra tricks under its sleeves compared to its competition. Thanks to the touchscreen, Alexa now displays the information alongside the voice response to your query.
But, sadly not all of it is interactive. This seems as a missed opportunity as Amazon could have added an option to view further information of the topic through a webpage. Also, the Echo Spot doesn't show incoming text messages, calls, or emails from user's phone - at least not yet.
The Echo Spot is a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-ready smart speaker. It has a 3.5mm audio jack which means the device can easily connect to an external speaker. It's also easy to pair devices directly from the Echo Spot's screen.
Additionally, the drop-in feature acts as an intercom among the Echo devices. Users can also drop in on the Echo Spot's camera and check the activity in the room or have a video call. This a very convenient feature with a blend of security.
The Echo Spot also allows for phone calls and sending text messages using voice commands, but only if you are an Android user.
As for the sound quality, the new speakers sound better than what we've heard on the much cheaper Echo Dot speakers. It delivers a decently balanced audio output. Of course, you won't be filling any rooms with the sound, but it's loud enough for a small area. However, the functionality is more or less similar to what you get on other Echo devices.
The Echo Spot comes with a four-microphone array and is capable of hearing you from anywhere in the room. The device also has an ability to connect to services such as Amazon Prime Music, Saavn for music, Aaj Tak, India Today and NDTV for news, and Ola for booking cabs.
Overall the Echo Spot qualifies as an adorable piece of hardware. It looks attractive and complements your workstation pretty well. We enjoyed using the device for playing music and getting instant news wraps. The screen surely does enhance the Alexa experience, while video calling is an added bonus.
The screen tries its best to keep you updated cycling through bits of information like date, time and weather. Add Alexa to the list and voila. It makes your life even easier by adding cards for your reminders, upcoming events, and notifications from other Alexa skills. Plus, who knows what the developers have in their bag of skills to make the display more intuitive. The Echo Spot is definitely better than the Echo speakers sans the screen.
But, honestly, the Spot is basically a smart alarm clock on steroids. Of course, the Echo Spot isn't a perfect device and has some flaws. For instance, the display isn't good for long videos, and even though the display is useful, it isn't something cannot live without. Also, the lack of YouTube integration can be a dealbreaker for many.
All that being said, if you look beyond the flaws of the device, it is one of the best Echo smart speakers to see the light of day. Good things sure do come at a hefty price, but here it seems Amazon is asking for more than it's offering. So, while the device is without a doubt a swell product, we would still recommend you to wait until it sees a price slash.