A fine addition to the Alexa family or a vastly overpriced alarm clock? Tech reviewers have got their hands on the Amazon Echo Spot, the latest Echo device to arrive in the UK and the second with a screen.
What have they made of it? We’ve picked out the key quotes from reviewers whose opinions we trust and collated their scores to bring you our review of the reviews.
Amazon Echo Spot: what the reviewers are saying
With that softball-sized design, the Echo Spot is ideally sized for the bedside table and Wired’s David Pierce says it fulfils the role of modern alarm clock immaculately.
“The Spot is a terrific alarm clock,” he writes. “You can wake up to an alarm tone or to music, then say ‘Alexa, good morning’, to get the weather forecast and your daily news briefing. It’s become a crucial part of the first hour of my day.”
And for those worried that the glare from the screen will stop them sleeping, the “Spot does a nice job of dimming its screen at night, and will turn all the way off at your request.”
Several reviewers, including Alphr’s Jonathan Bray, comment on how the screen makes setting up the device much easier than one of the audio-only speakers. “I love the fact that I can view the feed from my Ring doorbell, turn up the temperature on my Hive heating system and activate the living room lights with a simple voice command, all without having to set it up again,” Bray writes.
The screen and accompanying webcam also make it possible to make and receive video calls, although several reviewers worry about having an all-seeing eye in the bedroom. But not all of them: Jonathan Bray likes the fact that the Echo is constantly watching for movement, letting callers know whether you’re in the house or not. ”Effectively, this means you don’t have to guess if anyone’s in; irritatingly, you can’t display that list on the screen of the Echo Spot, though.”
Others are less enamoured with the idea. “I can’t ever imagine wanting to make video calls from my bedroom — nor do I want an always-watching camera in the most intimate and private room of my home,” writes Dan Seifert from The Verge.
Wired’s David Pierce has similar concerns. “Even though I’m perfectly comfortable with an always-on microphone eight inches away from my sleeping face, having a camera there makes me anxious,” he writes. “It’s nice that you can say, ‘Alexa, turn off the camera’, and it will mechanically disconnect, but there’s still a lens there.”
The Spot doesn’t have to be used in the bedroom, as Tech Advisor’s Jim Martin points out. “The Spot can be used anywhere and we found it was just as useful on a kitchen worktop or shelf. You might even choose to put one on your office desk so you can keep an eye on a security camera at home.”
However, the burble of a busy kitchen might drown out the Spot’s speaker. “Even turning up the volume to its highest level wasn’t enough to raise it above the background of the extractor fan or the kettle boiling,” writes Nathan Spendelow on Expert Reviews. “It’s worth noting, though, that you can hook the Echo Spot up to an external speaker via the 3.5mm aux out or via Bluetooth for a fuller, more engaging sound.”