There were a lot of reviews posted this week about the new Amazon Echo Spot. Echo Spot was announced in late September and is essentially a cross between the Echo Show and Echo Dot with a price tag right in between. It has all of the voice interaction you would expect from an Echo, the sound quality of an Echo Dot and a screen that isn’t quite as functional as Echo Show. However, it is small, elegantly designed and ideally suited to replace your alarm clock on your nightstand.
The best review I came across was from Dan Seifert of the Verge. He comments favorably on the Echo Spot design along with its suitability for his nightstand due to a small footprint and ability to replace both his Echo Dot and clock radio. However, he does say that the display size is so small it has limited functionality beyond a clock display, there are few Alexa skills that support using the display anyway and he would prefer if Amazon shipped it without a camera. The video review is worth a viewing.
Here is Seifert’s summary:
“It’s basically the perfect smart alarm clock, replacing both the Echo Dot and old Sony clock on my nightstand — if only it didn’t have that anxiety-inducing camera built into it…Amazon thinks the Spot can work in other parts of your home, too, but I don’t feel it’s the best Echo for most other uses. The larger Show is better if you want a voice-controlled display in your kitchen for recipes and background video watching while you cook or do dishes, and the audio-only Echo devices are better for a living room or office where you probably already have other screens like a TV or computer.
“That makes the Spot a tough sell. At $130, it’s not particularly cheap and has that pesky camera that most people will not want in their bedrooms. Despite that, I personally really like it: it looks cool, doesn’t take up a lot of space on my nightstand, and as mentioned, kills two birds with one stone in my bedroom.”
Engadget Says Wait for a Price Drop
Nicole Lee from Engadget also had an extensive review of Echo Spot which is worth reading if you are considering purchasing the device. She liked it in the kitchen as well as the bedroom and thought is was a nice upgrade over the screenless Echo Dot. However, she also thought it might be a better value after a price drop.
“I adore the Echo Spot. It looks great on my nightstand, and I love using it in the kitchen to look up recipes or add to my grocery list. The screen enhances the standard Alexa experience; I love being able to see the information rather than just listen to it. Video-calling is also a bonus. For me, it’s worth the $50 premium over the screen-less Echos.
“Yet, right now, the Spot really is just a smart alarm clock. The tiny display isn’t great for much beyond short videos, and even though I find the screen useful, it’s not really necessary…So, while I really do like the Echo Spot, I’d recommend waiting for its price to drop.”
Lee, Seifert and others also commented that the Echo Show right now is only $20 more and packs a lot more value in terms of screen size and sound quality. It is not clear that Echo Show will maintain this discounted price much longer and may soon revert to its $229 list price. Echo Show is also large enough that it likely will be unsuitable for many nightstands. However, if you want Alexa with a screen, Show is a better value right now than Spot.
Replacing Common Household Items
There are many other reviews that comment on Echo Spot as ideal for the bedroom and a replacement for an alarm clock. That may turn out to be the sole reason this device exists. Amazon wants you to put an Alexa-based device everywhere so Alexa is always available to meet your needs…and place orders for you. However, up to this point, Amazon Echo has been about adding something to your rooms. Echo Spot is about replacing something many people already have and may not be enamored with anymore. It is an elegant replacement for alarm clocks and clock radios. That moves Alexa into a new category.
This may in fact be as much about getting other vendors to adopt Alexa integration for their products. After Echo started winning market share in the wireless speaker market, Sonos, Harman Kardon, JBL and others rushed to add Alexa to bring their products to parity. Manufacturers targeting bedroom nightstand products may see this and feel the need to integrate Alexa into their products. That would be a clear win for Amazon even if it never sold a single Spot.
Reducing the Necessity of Mobile, One Feature at a Time
Echo Spot will also encroach on mobile phone use on the nightstand. It certainly won’t displace the value of having mobile access near you, but it reduces the need to have your phone available for a morning alarm or to listen to music. Smartphones are the idea multi-purpose devices while Echo Spot has a much narrower role. With that said, it may be all Amazon is expecting from it. If Echo Spot increases Alexa presence in just a few more bedrooms and displaces just one or two feature people use mobile for today, it will offer Amazon yet another market share win in the voice assistant battle for the hearts, minds and nightstands of consumers.