Amazon Echo Spot is kind of like an Echo Dot with a screen
Can't afford the Echo Show? Come December, Amazon will have a smaller, cheaper speaker with a built-in display for $130.
David CarnoyExecutive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
ExpertiseMobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakersCredentials
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Earlier this year Amazon introduced an Alexa voice-enabled Echo speaker with a built-in display called the Echo Show. At $230 for one and $360 for two -- you get $100 off if you buy two -- it was was a little expensive for some people. (It's now available in the UK for £200.)
But in December Amazon will begin shipping a smaller Echo with an integrated display called the Echo Spot for $130. It comes in white and black and will be available in the UK and Germany early next year (sorry, Australia.)
You could call the Echo Spot a mini Echo Show but it's probably more like an Echo Dot with a screen. That's because the Spot only has a 2-watt speaker and is more akin, sound-wise, to the Dot than the Show. Still, it feels appropriately weighty for a $130 device, with the same grippy texture of the Echo Show. If Amazon's goal was to find a middle-ground between its cheapest and most expensive Alexa gadgets (the Dot and the Show, respectively), then it succeeded -- at least in terms of design.
It's also worth noting that while Amazon says you can play music through the Spot, it also highlights the fact that you can directly connect it to speakers through Bluetooth or using a 3.5mm stereo cable, "enabling you to add Alexa to your home-entertainment system." It suggests you do the same with the Dot.
In terms of video features the Spot seems to be just as capable as the Show. It has a front-facing camera and can be used for voice and video calls, as well as sending messages by simply telling Alexa to call or send a message to a specific person in your contacts list.
You can also watch a video flash briefing and check in on a live camera feed. Amazon confirmed to us that it will stream Prime Video, too. That circular screen could pose some viewing frustrations, but you can zoom the video in and out. (Presumably, YouTube is off the table for now.)
Amazon says the Echo Spot features second-generation far-field technology with four microphones, acoustic beam-forming technology and enhanced noise cancellation so it can hear you from across the room, even while music is playing. For those with more than one Echo, Alexa is supposed to respond from the Echo you're closest to, thanks to its Echo Spatial Perception (ESP) technology.
With a collection of clock faces to choose from, the Spot is being marketed as a smart clock radio that's able to control your smart-home devices, whether it be from your kitchen or your bedside nightstand. You can use your voice to control such music streaming services as Amazon Music, Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn, and there's a new multiroom music feature that allows you to play music throughout your home, with synchronized music across all of your Echo devices.