Amazon Echo Spot returns with a fresh new look that ditches the camera

Amazon Echo Spot returns with a fresh new look that ditches the camera

We rarely hear about new smart speakers these days. Either they have died off or that all wireless speakers are expected to be smart anyway. Even rarer, however, is news on smart speakers with displays, a.k.a. smart displays, outside of a few select devices, like the Google Pixel Tablet, and rumors, like a new Apple HomePod with a screen. Even Amazon, arguably the brand that really kicked off the smart speaker market, is pretty silent, at least until now. Seven years after it first launched, the controversial Echo Spot is making a comeback, bearing an aesthetic that is more modern, more soothing, and, more importantly, more privacy-focused.

Designer: Amazon

The first Amazon Echo Spot launched in 2017 as the smaller sibling to the Echo Show, perhaps the market’s first smart display. It had a funky circular screen and was positioned as a hi-tech bedside alarm clock rather than a general-purpose smart speaker with a display like the Echo Show. Unfortunately, two things made it less palatable even to Amazon’s loyal following: its price and the fact that it had a camera, a big no-no for something that’s supposed to stay in a very private part of your home.

After what felt like forever, the second-gen Echo Spot is finally rolling out with a design that addresses both concerns. At $79.99, it’s immediately half the launch price of its predecessor, and Prime Members can even get it for only $44.99 for Prime Day. It also no longer has a camera, but you can still make audio calls as usual. At least you won’t have to worry about people peeking at you, accidentally or otherwise.

With that functionality out of the way, there’s no longer a reason for a full display on the front, freeing Amazon to adopt a new design that is admittedly more suited for a bedroom. It still has a spherical shape that looks more like a tilted bowl, and the outer surface is still the same matte plastic material. The front, however, is now split in half, with a brighter and more vibrant screen taking up the upper portion, and a fabric-covered 1.73-inch front-facing directional speaker. The new Echo Spot also comes in a new Ocean Blue colorway in addition to the traditional Black and Glacier White.

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You can still touch that screen to control some of the speaker’s smart functions, though it really shines more when giving visual feedback to queries and commands. Being Amazon, the focus is on voice control and AI smarts, including routines and the ability to control other smart devices in the house. This does mean that the Echo Spot is always listening even if it is never watching, but there’s a physical mute button on its back when you really want that privacy in the bedroom.

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