There's a big problem with most of today's smart speakers: They look like ugly trash cans. Enter Amazon's Echo Show and Echo Spot, Alexa-enabled smart speakers with touch screens and cameras. They're able to go where no smart speaker has gone before: video streaming and video calling.
But which one is right for you?
Although a bit clunky-looking, the Echo Show ($229, $149 on sale) has a bigger screen than the $129 Echo Spot. But the Echo Spot has a friendlier design, and will get most of the same tasks done for anyone on a budget.
Here's a closer look at what the Echo Spot and Echo Show have to offer.
Echo Spot vs. Echo Show: Specs Compared
|10 inches (1280 x 800)
|2.5 inches (480 x 480)
|9.7 x 4.2 x 6.9 inches
|4.1 x 3.2 x 3.8 inches
Pricing and Deals
The Echo Show's starting price is $229, while the Echo Spot is $100 less at $129. However, the first-generation (and much uglier) Echo Show was marked down to $149 for much of this year.
As of this writing, Amazon is offering a "Buy two and save $40" deal on the Echo Spot — so if you want to buy one as a gift as well, you'll save.
Get the Echo Show if You...
- Want to entertain: If you're looking for a real speaker that you can hear over the shower, throughout a party, or in the next room, the Echo Show is a no-brainer. Its dual speakers can easily fill a room with sound, and even have substantial bass. Its audio quality is much better than that of the 2nd-gen Amazon Echo All-New Echo and many competing Bluetooth speakers.
- Want to watch videos: While a good shape for video-chatting with your Mom, the Echo Spot's small, circular screen is inconvenient for real video consumption. While the Show's display has some glare, it offers great contrast and vivid colors, and is fine for watching videos or movies. You can access live TV through NBC and Hulu, and can also pull up YouTube videos.
- Want a device for your kitchen: You can use the Echo Show to pull up recipes from services such as Allrecipes, Kitchn, Sidechef and Kitchen Stories. Alexa can guide you through the ingredients and recipes with both voice commands and pictures, and it's very easy to pause and rewind.
- Want to browse: The Echo Show is equipped with Firefox and Amazon's Silk browser, which you can use to surf the web. Mainly, however, they're useful for pulling up YouTube videos.
Get the Echo Spot if You...
- Want a more compact device: Denizens of small living quarters, or those who want to keep their Echo by their bed, will have a better time with the 4.1 x 3.8-inch, ovular Spot, which can fit comfortably on a bedpost, textbook or table corner. The larger Echo Show is better for a kitchen and is more of a pain to move.
- Are on a budget: The Echo Show is, at full price, the most expensive device in the Echo lineup, with almost a $100 gap separating it from the Spot.
What's the Same?
Before we pit Amazon’' devices against each other, let's look at where they overlap.
Both the Echo Spot and Echo Show are powered by Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant. Alexa can answer your questions, report on traffic, tell jokes, call you an Uber, control smart-home devices and much more.
The Show and the Spot share their signature feature: the screen. You can interact with them via the touch screen or by using voice commands, which can come in handy if you're working or holding a drink. The screens display the weather, time, news and skill suggestions by default. Swiping down reveals controls for Do Not Disturb Mode and brightness, as well as a Home button and a Settings cog. You can also watch videos and movies, and the screens display visual interfaces for certain skills (for example, they'll display song lyrics while playing many songs from Amazon Music).
Both devices have a built-in camera you can use for video calling, as well as for the fun but slightly creepy Drop In feature that allows you to call in to friends' and family's Echo Spots and Echo Shows without warning (and for them to do the same to yours). Don't worry — you can turn Drop In off in the Alexa app.
Additionally, while the two devices are shaped very differently, they feature the same three dedicated, external buttons. One activates and deactivates the microphone, while the other two control the volume.
The most obvious difference between these two devices is their design. The Echo Spot is shaped like the cross section of a Magic 8 Ball. It's compact, at 4.1 inches in diameter and 3.8 inches tall. The square Echo Show is much larger, at 9.7 inches wide and 6.9 inches high. It has an angular, wedge-shaped build, and is almost all screen.
In turn, the displays are different. The Echo Spot sports a circular 480 x 480 screen with a 2.5-inch diameter — it's reminiscent of an alarm clock's face. By contrast, the Echo Show features a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display. This means that you'll get a better viewing experience on the Echo Show — videos are a little cramped on the Spot's small screen. Watching a movie on the Echo Show feels more like watching on a tablet, or even a miniature flatscreen TV.
This size difference also means that the Echo Show can fit a much bigger touch-screen keyboard. The Spot's keyboard is small enough to be cumbersome to those with larger-than-average fingers.
When it comes to audio, there’s a noticeable difference between these smart speakers. The Echo show sports dual speakers on a par with those of the original Echo, while the Spot has only one downward-facing speaker. The Spot is fine for light listening, but you'll want the Show for booming toons at a party.
That said, if the Spot isn't loud enough for you, you can connect it to another speaker via its 3.5mm audio jack, which the Echo Show lacks. The Spot also has four microphones, while the Show has eight, so it’s slightly less sensitive to your voice commands.
The Echo Show has a five-megapixel camera, which generally delivers a clear picture. Amazon hasn't released the specs of the Spot's camera, and declined to provide that information for this article.
The Echo Show has better sound and a bigger screen, and is slightly easier to use. But the cheaper Echo Spot is just adorable, and will more easily fit on a nightstand or desk. The right Echo will be heavily dependent on what you're looking for.
Credit: Tom's Guide
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Monica Chin is a writer at The Verge, covering computers. Previously, she was a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she wrote about everything from artificial intelligence to social media and the internet of things to. She had a particular focus on smart home, reviewing multiple devices. In her downtime, you can usually find her at poetry slams, attempting to exercise, or yelling at people on Twitter.