As for voice commands, the Spot had few problems recognizing my voice, even when I was speaking from across the room. However, it did struggle to pick up what I was saying if there was a lot of surrounding noise. When I had the Echo Spot's volume maxed out playing a song, for example, I had to get a few feet closer so that it could hear me.
You can already make voice calls and send messages with the screen-less Echos, but the display and camera on the Spot means video calls are now possible. You can make video calls with anyone with an Echo Spot or Show, as well as anyone with the Alexa app installed on their phone.
I tested this feature by using the Spot to call two of my colleagues, Cherlynn and Nate, who have the Alexa app on their phones. Cherlynn also owns a second-generation Echo. When I tried calling her, her Echo rang, but her phone did not. While I could talk to her, then, we couldn't see each other. She tried switching the call to her phone, but it didn't work. It seems that if you're making a call from an Echo to another person, it prioritizes their Echo over the phone. That makes sense to an extent, but I'd rather be able to choose how I answer the call.
When I tried calling Nate, however, his phone rang. He answered by launching the Alexa app, at which point both cameras immediately kicked in and we could see each other. It worked well -- the video quality was crisp and smooth, partially thanks to the fact that we both had decent WiFi connections. The audio quality was good, too. I can see the Spot being useful for helping families keep in touch, though bear in mind that you'd have to force everyone to download the Alexa app to make it work.
The Echo Spot also doubles as an intercom when paired with other Echos in your house. So, if you're in the bedroom and you have an Echo in the kitchen, you can say "Drop in on the kitchen" and communicate with anyone on the other side. If the other Echo is a Spot or a Show, the cameras will turn on as well. If you'd rather not have the camera on but you still want to chat, you can always hit the camera off button or disable it in settings.
Another handy feature on the Spot (as well as the Show) is the ability to use it as a monitor for a webcam. That includes the Amazon CloudCam of course, but it also works with Nest, Ring and any other camera that has the "Works with Alexa" label. I happen to have a CloudCam already installed, so I could say "Alexa, show me the family room" to get a peek at what my cat was up to when I wasn't around.
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