Amazon has taken time to bring the Alexa experience to India but once they started, they have been regularly working on making it better and improving the overall quality of the whole ecosystem. In that direction, their latest step has been to add a dimension of screen experience to the interaction. They have done this with the launch of the Amazon Echo Spot here in India. Here is our review of the newest addition to the Echo family.
Let’s talk about the design first. The display has been ergonomically angled upwards and is a 2.5-inch LCD with a resolution of 480×480 pixels. This isn’t very big or even too prominent, but it definitely adds a lot of value to the device. According to Amazon, these devices are intended to be glanced at, not actively watched like a TV or a tablet. They have gone about designing the UI and the UX with that as the driving thought.
To get started with the Spot, you just plug it in, wait for it to boot up and then enter your Amazon login info on the touchscreen. You’ll still need to tweak the Alexa app on your phone to fine-tune settings, contacts and groups of devices, but we appreciate that you don’t need it during setup. You can also access device settings just by swiping down from the top of the Spot’s touchscreen anytime you want to change anything on the fly.
One of Amazon’s big USPs for the Spot is that the device gives you the ability to use it for video calling, thanks to the camera that is housed in the front of the device. You can actually make calls to other Echo devices with screens or phones via Amazon’s Alexa app. (Audio-only calls can be made to the Echo or Echo Dot, which lack screens. There is a button on the top of the Echo Spot that will disable the camera and cuts off electrical supply to it, and there is an option to disable it more permanently in the settings menu. Not to take anything away from this, but we prefer that this device is not kept in a bedroom like a normal alarm clock. The living room or your office room is a better place for it. Some users prefer taping the camera in the front to be doubly sure, like laptops.
There’s also an aux-out jack in the back that’ll let you hook it up with external speakers should you choose. Even if you don’t, the Echo Spot is more than capable of filling a small to medium-size room with passable sound quality on its own. The Spot comes with a 1.4-inch speaker that sounds a lot better than the Dot’s tinny speaker when Alexa says something. It also sounds fine for casual music listening, though it doesn’t work as well as larger speakers like the full-size Echo or the Echo Plus. In summary, sound is good , better than the Dot but not like professional heavy-duty speakers.
You use your regular voice commands to control it and talk to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The Alexa Instance on the Spot is capable of many things, most of which you are probably familiar with already: it can play music, answer questions, control smart home gadgets, set timers and alarms, and more.
The Echo Spot’s screen is great for showing a clock — there are around 16 different faces to choose from, covering both analog and digital designs, four of which can be personalized with your own photos — album art, to-do and shopping lists, and weather information at a glance. The Echo Spot shows Alexa’s answers to questions with scrolling text, which is nicer and way more convenient than having to pay attention to Alexa’s entire audio readout of the answer. Amazon says it plans to release more clock designs in the future as well. That will be a good idea.
In India, there are a few skills that are already screen friendly, like the ability to view the NDTV News bulletin, Times Now, ESPN Cricinfo, Aaj Tak and more on the screen instead of audio only and the ability to pick visually what you want to buy when you are shopping with your voice. Additionally, the screen also shows trending information and various interesting things that you can try with the Echo Spot.
Overall, this is the best Alexa Experience that we have seen so far from Amazon. Having a display helps and adds a lot of ease in the way we use Echo. The price of INR 12,999/- is also a good bargain given the features this one packs. If you are in the market for an interactive Alexa experience, this is the device for you.