Amazon is adding another variant of Echo to its Alexa-enabled speakers in India. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant on Wednesday launched Echo Spot as the fourth addition to its Echo lineup. The Echo Spot joins the already available Echo Dot, Echo and Echo Plus as the battle for smart speakers heats up in the Indian market.
The launch of Echo Spot comes just weeks after Google launched its own Google Assistant-based Google Home and Google Home Mini exclusively on Flipkart. While Google Home and Home Mini match Echo and Echo Dot, the Echo Spot will stand apart as an unique offering. The Echo Spot is the second device in the Echo series to feature a touchscreen. The first such device, the Echo Show, won’t be coming to India anytime soon, the company executives told BGR India.
Amazon Echo Spot Features and Price
A look at Echo Spot makes it clear that this one is meant to replace your table clock. It has a circular display with a resolution of 480 x 480 pixels and it measures around 2.5-inches across the circular face. With numerous analog and digital watch faces, the Echo Spot has the real chance of taking a permanent place on your night stand.
Ahead of its launch, Amazon showed the device in a select media briefing and I can say that it produces decent amount of sound despite its compact form factor. Unlike the regular Echo devices, the Spot is meant to be even more personal device. It is supposed to be on your desk, on your kitchen counter and the sound output is good enough for such environments.
The display is the real deal here. While regular Echo can play back news for you, the Echo Spot can playback flash briefing from the TV Station. It can play back movies from Prime Videos or show trailers directly from IMDB. If you are at the kitchen and want a recipe, you can simply ask Alexa to show video recipes. Since the screen is circular in shape, Amazon has also added an option to zoom in and the video will occupy the entire circular screen rather than appearing in landscape mode. This is one neat feature designed exclusively for the Spot.
The Echo Spot also has a camera up front so you can do video call with another Echo user through Alexa app. It is going to be the biggest concern for any Echo Spot user. While you are sleeping with the Echo Spot on your nightstand, you will most likely end up wondering if the Spot is recording your sleep. The answer to that question is a no but we have started falling for misinformation like Facebook listens to your microphone. There is a possibility that we might fall for this as well. To curb that, Amazon has added a button on that electronically disengage the camera.
Apart from the form factor and that circular display, the Echo Spot is an Alexa-enabled device at its heart. It includes second-generation far-field voice recognition system to activate Alexa and Amazon says the assistant is listening only for wake words – Alexa, Echo, Amazon and Computer. Alexa can play music via Amazon Music or Saavn or tunein. It can also make phone calls and text messages and answer questions. Since it is designed by Amazon, all Echo devices are also voice enabled shopping devices. It works simply by saying, “Alexa, order mouthwash” or “Alexa, order haldi”. Further, it can also control smart home devices like thermostat or a smart bulb. Yes, it can also set alarms and wake you up with a tune of your choice.
Alexa also comes with skills (its own version of apps) which can be used by third-party developers to support the assistant. There are already a number of big name developers supporting the service like Uber, Ola, Zomato, GaneshaSpeaks and Goibibo. On Thursday, Amazon announced Blueprints, a new way for anyone to build skills. Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager – India, Alexa Experience & Devices told BGR India that Blueprints is not available in India but it is only a matter of time before it is enabled for Echo users in India. He added that Alexa has learnt a number of Indian phrases and accents since its launch six months ago. It is constantly improving and now has the ability to distinguish that haldi is Hindi for turmeric. The improvement has been phenomenal despite it being built with English as the base language.
Amazon started selling the Echo series six months ago in India, nearly three years after it first debuted in the US. Parag Gupta – Head of Sales and Marketing, Amazon Devices told BGR India that the company saw better than expected demand in the initial six months. He added that the devices were made available on invite-only basis to understand the readiness of India as a market for smart speakers. He also noted that it made absolute sense for the company to bring Echo Spot since the market is looking for different devices and the adoption will expand going forward.
With Echo and other smart speakers, the big tech companies like Amazon are trying to explore whether voice is the next touch. Whether consumers bring home these speakers and let them take over some of their work will be answered in the next few years. The Echo Spot is priced at Rs 12,999 but is available at a discounted price of Rs 10,499. Amazon is also offering additional discount of Rs 1,000 to those who purchase two units at once and 10 percent cashback on ICICI Bank Cards. The Echo Spot is available in black and white colors, could well convince many Indians to bring home a circular speaker that also has a voice.