High-speed storage for hi-res photos and videos
Amazon Echo Spot review: Full, in-depth review
- Display is neat
- Audio output
- Webcam is creepy
The Echo Spot feels like a smart speaker that’s definitely for someone - but one that's not going to be for everyone.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
With the smart speaker category has fetishizing audio quality as much as it does, it’s hard not to see the Amazon Echo Spot as an interesting rebuke to that arm-race. We could have made them look like anything, why do they have to look like speakers? Why not an alarm clock?
Unfortunately, any novelty this fresh angle might bring feels worn away by more pressing concerns. Despite the evidence, there is a real fear and trepidation around the tension between the convenience that smart speakers and AI assistants provide and the cost to privacy they exact. And the Echo Spot feels like it doesn’t do enough to assuage those concerns.
Deliberate or not, this failure is ultimately what ended up defining the Amazon Echo Spot for me.
Dimensions: 104 mm x 97 mm x 91 mm
Weight: 419 grams. Actual size and weight may vary by manufacturing process
Smart Assistant: Amazon Alexa
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
Ports: 3.5 mm stereo audio-output
Color: Black, White
It doesn’t feel unfair to say that, at a glance, the Echo Spot looks like a speaker swallowed an alarm clock. On some level, it’s just a specialised and refined take on the notion that smart speakers like the Echo and the Google Home should be as inconspicuous as possible.
However, a few caveats and unintended consequences do haunt the pitch here. The Echo Spot features a ring of speakers running around the lower half of the note-like unit, and a circular screen on the front. Perched above that is a small webcam.
Now, Amazon say this allows users to remotely see what their Alexa sees - potentially allowing a concerned parent to check on their children, make video calls or investigate a notification sent by another smart security product. However, as an everyday user who didn't fit into those boxes, I found it a little unnerving to have it there at all.
Otherwise, the display is bright and detailed enough - but not impressively so. Same goes for the sound. It’s audible - but I don’t really feel driven to recommend or praise it in any particular sense. You can hear what Alexa says clearly enough but listening to music on this feels like a bit of write-off. You can do it. I wouldn’t recommend it. Thankfully, like the Echo Dot, the Spot does feature audio output - so you can connect it up to something that sounds a little better.
You can use it to play music, get news and sports updates, check the weather and remotely control your smart home devices. Unlike the other options, the Spot’s occasionally uses its display and webcam functionality to augment its responses to user requests.
By default, it’ll jump between acting as a clock, showing you the weather, recent news updates and any messages you’ve received using the Alexa app. However, reading through the latter (or any particularly long news updates) on the Echo Spot’s screen feels like a bit of a waste. It’s pretty small, so there’s a lot of scrolling involved.
The Bottom Line
It honestly feels the Echo Spot would be a totally different proposition if it kept the screen but dropped the webcam. Framed like that, it’s just a more compact approach to the smart display niche fast-gaining traction among Lenovo, LG and the like.
As it stands, the Echo Spot feels like a really-specific option that’s only really going to be worth if you’re comfortable with letting another webcam into your life and actively-enthusiastic about the ability to integrate Alexa voice commands into your current smart security setup.
It's definitely a smart speaker for someone - but it's not going to be for everyone.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P30 Pro review: A photography powerhouse that leans into and elevates its natural strengths
- 2 Panasonic Lumix S1 review: Pushing your limits
- 3 Dell G7 review: Growing pains
- 4 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 5 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
Latest News Articles
- Here's every new TV that Panasonic are bringing to Australia in 2019
- Panasonic’s transparent smart OLED TV is as cool as it sounds
- tvOS 13 for Apple TV: 6 cool new features to check out
- Amazon call out their challenger to the Google Home Hub
- Apple Music is now streaming on Alexa in Australia & New Zealand
PCW Evaluation Team
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
- Everything you need to know before you buy a 5G phone in Australia
- Google Pixel 3a review: Less is more
- Panasonic Lumix S1 review: Hands-On Australian review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies