Ability to set alarms and reminders
Video phone calls
News and weather on the fly
Inability to set a permanent home screen
No option to turn off “Things To Try” screen
The Bottom Line
The Echo Spot is an excellent way to complement your independent living with a product that puts task management and convenience at your fingertips.
Echo Spot Review
Nearly one-third of American households have a smart speaker and it’s becoming a more common home accessory for seniors. It’s hard to beat the convenience of instant information whether it’s today’s forecast or the latest news. Amazon’s Alexa-enabled line includes products at nearly every price point.
The Echo Spot is one of the most powerful with a host of features that you’ll appreciate. And it’s not hard to fall in love with what it offers. That’s why most buyers can’t imagine a life without it. Let’s delve into the history and functionality of these products to see if you agree.
History and Popularity
The rise of virtual assistants like the Echo Spot have their origins in smartphone apps like Siri, Genie, and Cortana. They made it easier to access information on-the-go while improving productivity with task management.
Things changed in 2016 when Amazon introduced its first smart speaker, the Echo. They retained elements of the earlier technology and added a vast array of new features and capabilities. The Echo uses a virtual assistant named Alexa to answer your questions, give you reminders and perform other tasks from the Echo.
These things make them an excellent value and choice for seniors living on their own because they can manage some things for them with many options for hands-free use.
Specs of the Echo Spot
The Echo Spot is round and measures 4.1 inches by 3.8 inches by 3.6 inches. The display is 2.5 inches across. It weighs 14.8 ounces. You can use it with its built-in speaker or connect it to a Bluetooth device instead.
The sound output is decent, but we prefer an external device because it sounds a bit tinny and isn’t as loud as we’d like. The package comes with printed instructions, a speaker, and a power cord. It does not include any additional audio cables for use with a speaker. You can get your choice of either a black or white model.
If you have hearing or vision issues, the Echo Spot has several accessibility features that can make it easier for you to use. They include a screen magnifier, color inversion, color correction, and closed captioning. You can access the options through the Accessibility menu on the Settings tab.
You’ll find these features available on compatible Echo screen devices.
How to Use a Smart Speaker
You’ll find it helpful if you are somewhat tech-savvy to set up your smart speaker correctly. It’ll also allow you to take advantage of the full suite of skills. Amazon updates its product line every week. You can sign up for weekly emails that highlight some of the best ones.
Setup And Smartphone App
You’ll need a Wi-Fi connection for the initial installation and to continue to tap into its resources. You can use the Amazon’s Alexa mobile app or a web browser to walk you through the process. The instructions are straightforward and simple to follow.
Connecting your device to your Amazon account allows you to take advantage of other features such as buying online, tracking orders, and accessing additional perks if you have Amazon Prime. That will give you the ability to get the things you need without leaving the house.
Occasionally, the device may lose connectivity with the internet which will require reconnecting it with the app again. However, it’ll still retain your settings unless it loses power.
Features And Skills
We could easily write an entire manuscript about all the things the Echo Spot can do. We’ll focus on the ones that can support your independent living and improve your well-being.
Being connected is probably the most significant advantage of owning this product. That means you can call your grandkids without having to remember phone numbers. The device will scan your contacts for the right one. You can even make video calls to stay in touch.
If your children have a smart speaker too, you can connect them to act as an intercom of sorts with its Drop-In feature. You can communicate with them through it with real-time access.
Other skills you may find useful include setting reminders for things like taking medication or remembering birthdays and other significant events. You can set timers. You can listen to music if you have an account with a subscription service such as Pandora or Spotify.
And when the grandkids come over to visit, you can play games such as Animal Facts or 20 Questions. You’ll find a host of trivia games along with interactive quizzes and word puzzles to keep them entertained for hours.
Some of the things we especially like include the ability to raise or lower the volume of the speaker with a voice command. You can even adjust the bass or treble to your liking when listening to music.
You can also tell Alexa to stop if you’ve received the answer to a question you asked. It’ll brighten your day with jokes and limericks. And if it doesn’t have the necessary skill, it’ll tell you that it doesn’t know it—yet.
The Echo provides support for many businesses and financial services such as Paypal, U.S. Bank, and TD Ameritrade. You can check balances, transfer funds, and other everyday tasks without having to wait on hold for an operator. That can save you time and money with instant access.
It can also give you the peace of mind you deserve to make sure your accounts are safe with real-time updates on transactions and activity.
If you live alone, it’s hard to beat the ability of connecting your Echo Spot to a delivery service for food or groceries. You can place an order in the convenience of your home without having to fight traffic or look for parking.
You will need to set up individual accounts for any services that you’ll want to use. Availability is limited for some choices too.
You can also get recipes and ask Alexa about measurement conversions if you prefer to cook at home. You’ll find apps to help you plan meals if you’re on a restricted diet or special nutritional needs.
Health And Fitness
Being active is essential as you age to stay independent and remain healthy. You can create a regular morning routine with guidance from Alexa. You can manage your Fitbit and keep track of your stats with it too.
Sleep issues are a common complaint with seniors. You’ll also find several ways to relax and help to ensure a good night’s rest. Most music subscriptions include ambient music to provide the white noise you need. The smart speaker has many built-in programs too.
The Echo Spot can prove itself invaluable if you need to find a repairman to fix an appliance in your home. For example, you can locate a prescreened service rep using the HomeAdvisor skill. You can get instant advice on managing everything from your lawn to your HVAC system.
You can use the Echo Spot to manage your travel needs in several ways. You can order an Uber or Lyft ride through it. You can find out about public transportation stops with connected networks. You can find flights or hotels too. You’ll even see travel guides to help you plan your trip.
Smart Device Management
Another outstanding feature is the ability to manage other smart devices in your home. For example, if you have a compatible security system, you can communicate with it and have it do things like view exterior cameras or open locks.
You can use it with a smart thermostat to better control the temperature in your home for optimal energy-efficiency. And if you have a smart bulb, you can turn on a light to reduce your risk of a fall if you get up during the night.
Be aware that compatibility varies with different manufacturers and services. We’d suggest that you go to the Alexa Skills web page before you purchase any smart devices to verify whether it’ll work with your Echo Spot.
Privacy and Security Concerns
The Echo Spot and other smart speakers have also raised several issues that are worth noting. The essential thing to understand is that the device isn’t always listening to you and recording what you say to it. Instead, they work on a so-called hot word or phrase that activates it.
You can change it to anything that you’d like. The default is Alexa, the virtual assistant of the product. There have been glitches in the past that Amazon has been quick to remedy. Occasionally, it will detect something you say or is broadcast on TV that may trigger a response.
There are two other concerns that you need to understand, data collection and hacking.
The Alexa app and Amazon keep a log of your requests. Deleting this history isn’t intuitive. You’ll have to go online to Amazon.com to clear it. The concern rests with privacy and targeted advertising. However, with the connected world of the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s nearly impossible to avoid.
The Echo Spot has the ability for voice recognition. If you’re living alone, we’d recommend that you do not enable this feature. Its value rests in households where two or more individuals may use the device for different tasks.
Hacking poses an even higher risk, especially if you have one or more smart devices connected to the product. It boils down to someone knowing your Wi-Fi password and using it to control your setup without your knowledge or consent.
The best way to protect yourself is to use strong passwords or a password manager such as LastPass to safeguard your private information. We strongly urge you not to save any credit card information online no matter how convenient Amazon’s one-click shopping sounds.
You can also disable online shopping altogether through the Alexa app which we’d also suggest.
Bear in mind that when you add any new skills or enable certain features, you’re also giving access to third parties. Amazon has gone a long way to improve its transparency. When you go to its web page, you’ll see what permissions are necessary to use them to help you make an informed choice.
The Echo Spot offers an affordable way to make your life easier with a virtual assistant that can manage your calendar, contacts, tasks, and other smart devices. It is simple to use with many options for customizing it with new skills or subscription services to get the most out of your purchase.
It is affordably priced too, making it an excellent value that is worth the investment. It’ll allow you to stay connected with your family and loved ones along with providing you up-to-date news and information when you need it.