Huge news out of the Amazon camp today! First the announcement that the Echo will now work with Nest, then they announced Echo Dot and Amazon Tap, the newest Alexa enabled devices.
The Echo Dot, pictured left, looks like someone sawed the top off of an Amazon Echo, and that’s basically what it is. The Dot has all of the same functionality as the Echo, but without the big speakers. That’s not to say that Dot doesn’t have a speaker, because it does, but it is not meant to be used to play music. In fact, the Dot is actually meant to be connected to larger speakers via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable.
You don’t have to connect your Dot to any speakers. Amazon claims the built in speaker will work perfectly well to interact with Alexa, as well as an alarm clock or timer.
The Echo Dot has the same array of microphones as its bigger counterpart and will respond to all of the same commands. It also works with all of the same home automation devices. If you already have an Echo configured to control your smart home, this will automatically work with everything that is already set up. One thing that the Dot will not do currently is sync music with other Dots or your Echo. So Amazon isn’t eating Sonos’s lunch just yet.
Here’s the crazy bit, you can only order a Dot if you’re a Prime customer WITH an Amazon Echo. And the only way to order the Echo Dot is to ask Alexa to order it through your Echo. This only accentuates how much Amazon wants to show that the Dot is meant to be a companion to your Echo.
The Echo Dot is currently selling for $89.
Next, Amazon decided to address the problem of portability with Amazon Tap. The tap is a portable Bluetooth stereo speaker with Alexa baked in. The Tap sacrifices the omni-directional microphones that it’s cousins the Echo and Dot use in order to conserve battery. In order to interact with Alexa you have to push and hold the microphone button, similar to the voice remote for Fire TV.
Although you lose the always listening functionality, the positives of the Tap far outweigh the negatives. First, the Tap boasts 9 hours of continuous playback per charge and up to three weeks of standby time. When the Tap needs a recharge, it fits nicely into the included charging cradle. It can also be powered by a micro USB cable.
Amazon Tap requires wifi for Alexa to work, so it’s great when you’re in the yard at home, but what about when you’re on the go? Amazon has all the answers. You can tether the Tap to your phone and get all the goodness of Alexa on the road.
Since it’s meant to be carried around, Amazon is also selling multi-colored rubberized cases for the Tap for $19.99.
The Amazon Tap is available for preorder at Amazon for $129.99, with orders shipping on March 31st.