The Echo Spot is my new favorite Alexa device

The Echo Spot is my new favorite Alexa device
From TechCrunch - December 18, 2017

I got excited when the Echo Spot debuted. At the time, I tentatively declared it the best Echo at the time, and after living with the device for the better part of a week, my sentiments havent really changed.

The latest member of the Echo family slots into the line nicely, delivering the Shows touchscreen functionality at a much more palatable price point and size. Its kind of the Dot to the Shows standard Echoin other words, Spot is what you get when you cross Show with Dot.

While rumors about a touchscreen Google Home have been floating around for a bit, the Echo line is still the only major player in the space with the functionalitymaking Amazon its own biggest competitor. And honestly, I wouldnt be surprised if the Spot starts eating into Show sales in a big way. A few case uses aside, there really arent that many reasons to plunk down the extra $100 for the Show.

Circle marks the Spot

The biggest change in this most recent round of Echo devices is the fact that Amazons actually started to give a crap about design. The Echos were kind of crummy and plasticky looking, betraying a company that was more interested in getting its platforms into the home, rather than actually blending in with them.

The Echo got a nice design makeover, with fabric covers and the like, and likewise, the Spot is a much better looking device than the Show. The first Echo was big and plasticky and clunky, with all sorts of weird, brutalist angles.

The Spots a small, half-circle, available in either white or black. The company likely could sell even more if it offered them in a wider variety of colors, but between the two current options, it should fit pretty well into most settings. Its not bleeding-edge design, but its minimal without being boring and is honestly pretty nice looking, so far as alarm clocks go.

An Amazon rep tells me the circular design wasnt chosen for any particular practical purposeit was a purely aesthetic decision. There is, however, one big downside to all of that: it really messes with video playback. Its pretty clear that Amazon didnt expect too many people to actually watch video on the thing. The screen is 2.5 inches, to the Shows seven.

When you attempt to watch a video, a big portion of the screen is taken over by big, black letter boxing, adding the already sizable bezel. When the video pops up, theres an option for zooming in. That will eliminate the letter boxing problem, but youre going to lose everything on the periphery. Its a weird sensationa bit like watching something through a porthole.

Of course, on top of the size and dimensional constraints is the fact that the screen has a 480 x 480 resolution. That means its not great for much beyond playing short videosand, unfortunately, bickering between Amazon and Google means when you ask Alexa to play YouTube, she answers, curtly that web videos are not supported on this device. Amazon video does have some short form content, but its no YouTube. Because nothing is YouTube, except for YouTube.

Similarly, the speakers, which were a key focus on the new Echo and Echo Plus, are nothing to speak of, or hear. The get surprisingly loud, but like the Dot, youre not going to want to use them for much more than communicating with Alexa. For music playback and the like, theres an audio out port on the back, Bluetooth playing and multi-room music streamingin other words, you have plenty of much better options for listening to music through Alexa.

Pillow talk

Screen time

Hitting the spot


Continue reading at TechCrunch »