Given its phenomenally versatile resume of features and dimensions tailored for service in even the most minimal spaces, the newly revealed Echo Spot makes a case for simply listing the few things Amazon’s Internet of Things nexus and its ubiquitous companion virtual assistant Alexa still can’t do. So far, we have narrowed that down to curing a disturbing rash that has been spreading across an awkward place since July and teaching our grandparents to check their email without our help.
(EDIT – Never mind. In the time it took to type that paragraph, Alexa found and ordered what appears to be a promising topical cream from a well-reviewed online pharmacy in Hong Kong. For an encore, she taught our elders the difference between “Reply” and “Reply All” before enrolling them in online computer science courses through MIT and composed a surprisingly defensible treatise defending the “Lost” series finale.)
So, just how effectively does the pint-sized Echo Spot leverage its 2nd generation far-field technology combined with beamforming capability, a quartet of microphones, enhanced noise cancellation allowing it to even discern your voice from across the room while music is playing and Echo Spatial Perception (yes, “ESP”) that coordinates intelligent responses among multiple household Echo units to channel feedback through the one physically nearest to you?
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
It may not render a tablet, smartphone or laptop decisively obsolete (yet), but the Echo Spot can and will stream just about any information you could need anywhere in your home instantly. You could start your day with streaming video news briefings compiled from CNN, Bloomberg and more major news sources. Once you’ve caught up on current events, ask for the latest movie trailers to plan your next night out. Start the productive part of your day by inquiring about any number of convenient DIY tutorials to tackle projects around the house for quick and easy practical learning. Meanwhile, the cloud-based Alexa app can manage your to-do or shopping lists and even add items at home while pushing an immediate update to anyone logged in on a mobile device.
Alexa’s hands-free voice control allows you to request a song, artist, genre, curated playlist or radio station from such connected music services as Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, TunedIn or Sirius XM and peruse song lyrics and album art provided by Amazon Music Unlimited. That isn’t all, though. Feel free to use Echo Spot’s Bluetooth signal to stream other services such as Apple Music to your phone or tablet or connect directly to a speaker using a 3.5mm stereo cable. Personally? If your home is populated with more than one Echo device, we strongly recommend playing with the nifty multi-room music feature to enjoy your tunes seamlessly while moving from one area to another like a dynamic travelling soundtrack.
If you own an Echo Spot, you’re about to lift fewer fingers managing your household’s everyday environment than ever before. Wherever you are, Alexa can show you uninterrupted live feeds from any connected camera in your home. She can also control fans and lights without your touching a dial, button or switch. You need only ask. To give your day an effortless rhythm that befits your habits, the Echo Spot can also set timers for multiple devices including televisions, fans, lights, cameras, thermostats, garage doors and sprinklers. Your Amazon-powered smart home’s seamless automation expands to an unimaginable breadth when augmented with DIY starter kits from Ring, WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, ecobee, Wink and other approved developers.
Any happy home thrives on a foundation of communication, and the Echo Spot is an ingenious hub for keeping lines open to friends and family anywhere at any time.
Hands too full or soiled to reasonably pick up a phone or send a text? Amazon has you covered with unlimited hands-free voice calls to your mobile contacts and video calls from your Echo Spot to fellow Alexa app and Spot or Echo Show users. The Drop In feature allows instant communication to any other Echo device in your home for quick messages or calls to lay out dinner plans, nudge kids to finish homework or threaten the neck of whoever drank the last of the milk and put an empty carton back in the fridge.
All you need is a valid mobile number and a device running either Android 5.0 and up or iOS 9 onward.
Other Skills, Usability
It’s easy to be taken aback at just how simple Alexa is to use. While you yammer on throughout the day, she constantly observes and adapts to patterned nuance in your speech, personal preferences and vocabulary. On top of the numerous base functions listed above, the Echo Spot receives and automatically implements constant updates to her existing skill set:
- Order a pizza from Domino’s
- Hail a ride from Uber
- Sync Alexa with a Fitbit to monitor progress toward your fitness goals
- Control your TV and DVR through a Dish subscription
- Kick back and play some games
- Skim headlines from around the world
Priced to own at $129.99, the Amazon Echo Spot goes on sale Dec. 19 – just in time for a possibly belated holiday gift.