Amazon is giving its Echo a family today with the debut of two new speakers that include Alexa, the Echo’s digital assistant.
The Amazon Tap is like a portable version of the original Amazon Echo. It includes Bluetooth and can be used as a speaker thanks to its Dolby sound processing and dual stereo speakers that offer 360-degree sound. Also included is Wi-Fi support that, when connected, will let you use Alexa by tapping the device's microphone button. This Alexa has the same features that you’d get on the Echo, enabling you to request an Uber, order a pizza, or get the headlines.
As I mentioned, the Amazon Tap is portable, and its battery is good for nine hours on a single charge. When it needs to be juiced up, the Amazon Tap and be places on its included Charging Cradle. And when it’s ready to go, you can slip it into the optional Amazon Tap Sling, a protective silicone sling that also includes a hook for connecting the Amazon Tap to a bag or other object.
The Amazon Tap is now available for pre-order for $129.99, and it’ll ship on March 31. The Amazon Tap Sling is an optional add-on that’s priced at $19.99 and is available in six colors.
The other new Alexa-powered device announced today is the Amazon Echo Dot. Think of this as like a mini Echo that you can connect to any speaker using the included 3.5mm audio cable. The Echo Dot can be used on its own as well, but Amazon says that it’s got a “small” speaker, so if you want high-quality audio, you should probably hook it up to some speakers.
Like the regular Echo, the Echo Dot includes seven microphones for far-field voice recognition. It’s got the same Alexa features as the Echo and Amazon Tap, just in a smaller package that measures 38 x 84 x 84mm.
The Amazon Echo Dot is available for $89.99, but not everyone can buy one. Instead, Amazon is currently only selling the Echo Dot to consumers with an Alexa-enabled device, which includes the Amazon Echo and Fire TV. If you’ve got one of those devices, you can say “Alexa, order an Echo Dot,” and your order will be placed.
When Amazon introduced the original Echo in November 2014, it was kind of a strange device and a lot of folks were unsure what to make of it. Would the Echo be just a slightly smart Bluetooth speaker or would it actually develop into a formidable product? The latter turned out to be true, with Amazon frequently adding new features, including Uber and Spotify support and the ability to control select smart home devices. Now Amazon is expanding its platform of Alexa-enabled devices, suggesting that we’ll continue to see new features added.
What do you think of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled family of hardware? Will you be buying an Echo, Amazon Tap, or Echo Dot?