The name of the game here is "glanceability" -- Amazon says that the idea behind the Spot was to make a small-sized Alexa speaker that doesn't just tell you things, but shows you them, too. The clock face home screen (you get several digital and analog options to choose from) is the most obvious example.
You'll also see extra, on-screen details as you use Alexa. Information from your forecast will appear on screen when you ask Alexa for the weather, for instance. You can also ask Alexa to show you the feed from a compatible smart home security camera such as the Nest Cam or Amazon's own Cloud Cam.
Like most other Alexa gadgets, you also get a couple of physical buttons -- three to be exact. One raises the volume, another lowers the volume, and the one in the middle mutes the microphone and camera.
Like other current-generation Echo products and the Echo Dot, the Echo Spot has an aux out jack in the back. This lets you connect it directly to an external speaker setup for better sound. You can also connect it to external speakers via Bluetooth. That said, the Spot's speaker is noticeably more powerful than the speaker in the Echo Dot.
The Spot's camera sits just above the display. Amazon says that it only uploads video during video calls. Along with turning it off using the mic's mute button, you can disable the camera on its own in the Spot's settings, which you access by swiping down from the top of the display.
One advantage of that touchscreen display is that Alexa can show you video clips in your flash briefing of headlines and featured content from your preferred news sources. Your options are very limited, though -- out of nearly 4,000 flash briefing sources, less than thirty are optimized to show video on the Echo Spot.
Caption byRy Crist / Photo by Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET
The Echo Spot can also stream video from sources like Amazon Prime and Twitch -- but it can't access YouTube, at least not right now. That won't change until Amazon and Google stop squabbling over the fact that Amazon doesn't sell Google devices or stream Prime video to them. Don't hold your breath.
At $130, the Echo Spot splits the difference between Amazon's cheapest Alexa gadget (the Echo Dot) and its most expensive one (the Echo Show). With its small size and touchscreen, the Echo Spot borrows from both of those predecessors, making it an intriguing hybrid of the two. Is it worth the money, though? Read our full review to find out.