Rumors of the Amazon Echo getting a smaller sibling have been circulating since the beginning of the year, but details were slim with little more than it would be portable and coming soon.
Today Amazon has finally made the official reveal of not just one, but two new smaller Echo like devices; the Amazon Echo Dot is a miniature version of the Echo and the Amazon Tap is a portable Bluetooth speaker with Echo capabilities.
Amazon Echo Dot
The Echo Dot, as the name aptly suggests, is a considerably smaller version of the Amazon Echo. And to be clear, the size difference is significant: the Echo is 9.25-inches tall and the Echo Dot is a mere 1.5-inches. While it does have a small built-in speaker, it seems like the Echo Dot is much more geared towards the voice assistant and smart home functionality rather than audio playback. Amazon pitches it as a perfect fit for the bedside table or kitchen. If you do want to use the Echo Dot as a home audio solution, you can connect it to an existing home stereo with an audio cable or Bluetooth.
The Echo Dot is available now for $89.99, but only to owners of the Echo or a Fire TV with Alexa support by saying “Alexa, order an Echo Dot.”
The Amazon Tap is the device that was rumored previously, as it is a truly portable speaker, unlike the Echo and Echo Dot. The big question there was how would the always listening functionality work on a battery-bound device, and the answer is that it does not. This is perhaps why Amazon opted to drop “Echo” from the name of this product. The Tap gets its name from the method for calling up Alexa on the device, which is by tapping the microphone button on the side of the speaker.
In order to use Alexa functionality, the Tap needs an Internet connection, and this can be achieved either via Wi-Fi or with a mobile hotspot from your smartphone or tablet. When not connected to the Internet, the Tap is just a Bluetooth speaker. It has solid specs there, but we’ll have to see how it stacks up against some of our favorite Bluetooth speakers when we get our hands on one.
The speaker has up to 9 hours of playback on a single charge and comes with a charging cradle that makes it resemble a slightly smaller version of the traditional Echo when docked. At 6.2 inches tall, it is a few inches shy of its big sibling and a almost an inch narrower as well. On the top of the Tap are volume and playback controls.
Unlike the Echo Dot, anyone can order the Amazon Tap, but it’s a pre-order today and will ship on March 31st. The Tap is priced at $129.99, which compares favorably with mid- to high-end Bluetooth speakers, and of course, it has the added bonus of Alexa. For an extra $19.99 you can add a Tap Sling Cover in 6 colors that adds a loop and some protection for your Tap.
It seems odd that Amazon is limiting the sales of the Echo Dot, as the size of the original Echo does seem like it may have been a sticking point for some users, but perhaps it is attributable to Amazon being unable to produce the device in significant quantities at the moment.
Do either of the new options pique your interest?