6 reasons why the Amazon Echo Spot is the perfect alarm clock - and 2 reasons why it isn't

Ready to upgrade your old bedside clock? Here's why the Echo Spot could be your perfect excuse...
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Amazon's first shot at a display-driven Alexa vessel, the Echo Show, didn't really showcase why we'd need a screen for the voice assistant – but the new Echo Spot is a much better effort.

Why? Well, it's clearly built to be an alarm clock, which gives the Spot a lot more dedicated purpose than its larger predecessor. Luckily, it's also a pretty great bedside companion, thanks to customisation features, ease of use, and the ability to pull in music from your library.

We've just reviewed the U.S. version of the Echo Spot and the UK release shouldn't be far off. Thinking about sticking this one near your pillow? Here are six reasons why it's the ultimate alarm clock, and two reasons that might make you reconsider the upgrade.

Why it's a great alarm clock...

1) Customisable faces

Normally when you buy a standard alarm clock, you're stuck with that aesthetic until it kicks the bucket – or you move on to something newer. But that's not the case with the Echo Spot, since the digital screen is quite like a blank canvas for you to customise.

The Echo Spot comes with a handful of analog and digital face options, each of which gives the main clock screen a distinctive look. We'd love to see more font and style options down the line, but this is a nice start.

And if you want something a bit more personalised, then you can even set your own photo from within the Alexa app on iOS or Android. Drop a photo of a kid, a pet, a vacation spot – whatever will make you happiest when you rise and shine.

2) You can choose your morning power song

Classic alarm clocks can be set to wake you up to a radio station, but you're taking a risk that the song that summons you from your slumber might be obnoxious trash – or worse yet, it'll be a commercial.

Worry not: the Echo Spot can play any song, album, artist, or playlist when you rise, and you can choose from Amazon's own music offerings alongside Spotify, Pandora, and other music services that Alexa is already friendly with.

This works with all Echo devices as of a December update, but it's particularly useful for the Echo that is inches from your head in the morning.

3) It's packing Alexa

Of course, Alexa is the star attraction of any Echo, and that's true even with a screen on the Echo Spot. Truth be told, Amazon still hasn't cultivated very many skills that really demand the Spot's screen, but that's OK: she's plenty useful with or without visual accompaniment.

For example, when you roll out of bed, you can say, "Alexa, good morning" to get a friendly welcome, a quick weather update, and your flash briefing – a quick video news roundup that gives you a sense of what's happening in the world.

Alexa can do plenty more, as well, such as take lists, help you order things from Amazon.com, find answers to random questions, tell jokes, and even order an Uber. There are thousands of skills: some useful and others simply entertaining. Find the ones that improve your daily routine.

4) It dims at night

Given that bright 2.5in display, you might worry that the Amazon Echo Spot will significantly illuminate your nighttime space, making it hard to fall asleep. But nope, it shouldn't be a problem at all.

The Echo Spot has a nighttime mode enabled by default, which automatically kills the colorful daytime clock face and replaces it with white text on a black backdrop, or something similarly toned down. And you can customise the timeframe that it's enabled, in case your sleeping patterns are a bit atypical.

5) You don't have to fiddle with buttons

Ever accidentally enabled an alarm that you didn't really want – or worse, disabled an alarm that you really, really needed? Luckily, the Echo Spot isn't packed with buttons, so you shouldn't bungle an alarm just by touching it the wrong way.

And since Alexa is running the show, setting alarms is dead simple: just ask her to set it for a certain time, and customise it with music (as mentioned) if you please. The Echo Spot does let you use the touchscreen to tweak settings, but you won't have to fumble around menus just to get an early wake-up.

6) Say goodnight, even from far away

If you have a smartphone ever within arm's reach, then you surely have a way to get in touch with loved ones if you feel like chatting. But here's another option that no other dedicated alarm clock (that we know of) can match: the Echo Spot can do video calls, too.

Thanks to the tiny camera above the screen, you can dial up anyone who also has an Echo Spot or Echo Show, as well as anyone using the Alexa smartphone app. And you can do voice calls with any of those folks, as well, along with anyone using a standard Echo device.

Even with the small screen, you'll be able to see and hear your friend or family member plenty well enough, and it's perfect for a quick goodnight before closing your eyes.

And why it's not such a great bedtime companion...

1) That camera…

Even if you're keen on the occasional voice chat, having a camera pointed square at your bed is bound to give most people pause. Doesn't Amazon know what you do in that bed? It's a new frontier, putting a camera on an alarm clock, and it's one that we're a little unnerved by.

Granted, we don't expect that Amazon is sitting back at the home base watching us snooze in our undies, but you never know. Thankfully, you have a couple of options.

The first is the easiest: there's a little button on the top that turns off the camera, mutes the mic, and puts a little red ring around the screen. That way, you can turn off the Spot's eyes and ears in case you're changing, you've got some bedroom shenanigans planned, or whatever else you might want to keep under wraps. Furthermore, you can shut off the camera entirely from within the settings.

And if you're really paranoid, you could put a stick or a piece of tape over the camera, although that sort of kills the minimal aesthetic (and its light sensor). Truly, if you're that worried about it, then don't buy an Echo Spot.