Amazon Tap, Echo Dot Extend Alexa Virtual Assistant Product Line

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Amazon Tap, Echo Dot Extend Alexa Virtual Assistant Product Line

For those who don't need all the features of the Echo, Amazon's designers have cut it in half to create two new products–the Amazon Tap and Echo Dot.

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Amazon Echo Dot Smaller Size May Be Appealing

The Echo Dot is designed for Amazon customers who like the idea of having the Alexa personal assistant in the home, but don't want the towerlike Echo. Amazon has simply shaved off the bottom of the Echo to create the Dot, leaving a 1.5-inch-tall device in its wake. The Echo Dot is designed to sit in any room without being noticed. Thanks to its small size, it should accomplish that without much trouble.

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Amazon Tap Is a Portable Speaker First

As the following slides will illustrate, the Amazon Tap comes with several features, but it's a portable speaker first and foremost. Unlike the Echo, which needs to be plugged in at all times, the Tap can be carried around town and, with a simple voice command, be told what songs or audiobooks to play.

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Amazon Echo Dot Is Mainly a Personal Assistant

The Amazon Echo Dot is all about Alexa, the e-commerce giant's cloud-based virtual personal assistant. The Echo Dot comes with a microphone that listens to voice commands. Users can ask Alexa to turn on the lights, look up their calendar, add items to their to-do list and much more. And by connecting the Echo Dot to Bluetooth speakers, Alexa can also turn on music.

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Portable Amazon Tap Needs WiFi to Call Alexa

Alexa support in the Amazon Tap may be a little spotty. Since it's a portable device, there may be times when the cloud-based Alexa isn't accessible depending on the availability of a WiFi connection. However, when the Tap can connect to WiFi or a mobile hotspot, it has full Alexa functionality, including voice commands to flick on music and even order pizzas.

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Echo Dot Connects to the Home Speaker Systems

As noted, the Echo Dot ditches the speakers found in Amazon Echo. However, by connecting the device to a Bluetooth speaker, users can still listen to tracks from Amazon's Prime Music library, Spotify and iHeartRadio, among other services. Having that flexibility could be appealing to people who already own a Bluetooth speaker.

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Amazon Tap's Battery Life Is Strong

A portable speaker needs solid battery life, and that's precisely what the Amazon Tap delivers. According to Amazon, the device can last up to 9 hours on a single charge during audio playback. It's unknown how long the battery will last when it's not being used for a continuous period.

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Amazon Promises Alexa Upgrades for Echo Dot

Amazon has promised that Alexa on the Echo Dot will receive ongoing updates in the coming months, so users can do more with the personal assistant. More recently, Alexa has added the ability to order Domino's pizza, request a ride from Uber and open the garage door with Garageio.

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Amazon Tap: Music Streaming Support, but Where's Apple?

Amazon Tap comes with several prominent music-streaming services, including Amazon's Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio. However, Apple has so far kept Apple Music off Amazon's devices, and there is no mention of the Jay-Z-owned alternative Tidal. Amazon Tap has more than enough music services, but the lack of Apple Music is a glaring omission.

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Amazon Echo Dot Pricing Is Straightforward; Buying One Isn't

While the Echo Dot's pricing is straightforward—it costs $89.99—actually getting your hands on one isn't so simple. The device will be sold exclusively to Amazon Prime members who pay $99 per year for free two-day shipping, among other perks. But that's not all. The Echo Dot can only be purchased through Alexa Voice Shopping via the Amazon Echo or Amazon Fire TV. Odd? You might say so.

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The Higher-Priced Amazon Tap Is Easier to Get

Customers may need to work hard to get the Echo Dot, but that's not the case with Amazon Tap. The Tap, which will launch on March 31, is available to all Amazon customers for $129.99. It's currently available for preorder on Amazon.com, and as of this writing, supplies are still available. Considering it's already one of Amazon's bestsellers, however, it's unknown how long those supplies will last.

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