Amazon's Echo product line is getting two new gadgets: the smaller, portable Echo Dot voice assistant and the Amazon Tap, a portable Bluetooth and WiFi speaker that plays music, provides news and information and can even let users order a pizza delivery.
Amazon launched the Echo Dot and the Amazon Tap, both of which include Alexa voice-recognition capabilities, in a March 3 announcement. The devices extend the Echo lineup with new ways for users to manage their lives through electronic personal digital assistants that can help them simplify tasks and get more accomplished.
Like the original Echo, which Amazon began offering in late 2014 by invitation only and that became available to all customers in June 2015, the Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa voice recognition to help users with a variety of requests, from playing music to controlling smart home devices and more.
The Amazon Tap is more specialized, serving as an Alexa-enabled portable Bluetooth and WiFi speaker that users can activate with a tap of its microphone button to then ask for music, news reports, Web searches or more, using verbal commands and Alexa.
Both products are available immediately for preorder through Amazon, with the Echo Dot priced at $89.99 exclusively for Amazon Prime members through Amazon Digital Services in limited quantities. The Amazon Tap is priced at $129.99 and is expected to be released March 31.
The Echo Dot
The Echo Dot uses the Alexa Voice Service to play streaming music from Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn, and provides access to information and news for users. The device can also function as an alarm clock and can control smart home devices.
The Echo Dot, which features a built-in speaker, can be configured to operate through a home WiFi network, and its companion Alexa App is compatible with Fire OS, Android and iOS devices. The app is also accessible via a Web browser.
The device is designed to accept voice commands from users from across a room using its far-field voice-recognition capabilities, even while music is playing, according to Amazon. The Echo Dot looks like a hockey puck, measures 3.3 inches around and 1.5 inches tall, and weighs about 8.8 ounces.
To operate the Echo Dot, users can wake the device up by uttering the wake word, "Alexa," for almost instant response, according to Amazon. Once activated, users can give their commands to set the device into action. Multiple devices can be set up with different wake words.
The Alexa voice-recognition application gains accuracy and knowledge as it adapts to the speech patterns, vocabulary and personal preferences of users, according to Amazon. Software updates are delivered automatically to the device.
The Amazon Tap portable Bluetooth and WiFi speaker system includes dual stereo speakers with Dolby processing and 360-degree omni-directional audio, as well as up to nine hours of use on a full charge. Users can stream music from their smartphone or tablet with the device, which can be connected to WiFi or a mobile hotspot.
An optional Amazon Tap Sling is available for carrying the device while protecting it against bumps and drops. The Tap is 6.2 inches tall and 2.6 inches around and weighs 16.6 ounces.
The original Amazon Echo sells for $179.99 and has so far received more than 33,000 consumer reviews on Amazon.com. The device has received generally high ratings from users.