The Amazon Echo is a $180 internet-connected speaker that can answer your questions, stream music from the internet, add items to your shopping list, and much more. People who have them seem to love them: the Echo has over 33,000 reviews and an average rating of about 4.5 stars.
But $180 is a lot of money to spend on a speaker that basically does what Siri or Google Voice Search might already do on your smartphone.
Amazon Tap is basically a smaller, slightly less capable version of the Amazon Echo.
The $130 device is a Bluetooth and WiFi-connected speaker that offers up to 9 hours of battery life. But unlike the Amazon Echo, the Tap speaker isn’t always listening for voice commands. You have to tap the microphone button it before speaking to it.
That means it’ll be harder to use Amazon Tap from across the room. But since it’s basically a portable Bluetooth speaker, it might be a bit more versatile than Amazon Echo, which is really designed to sit in one place.
Amazon Tap has stereo speakers designed to offer 360 degree audio.
Amazon Echo Dot
Echo Dot is about half the price of an Amazon Echo, and it’s a much smaller device too. It looks kind of like a thick hockey puck. But it offers many of the same features as its big sibling, including far-field voice recognition that lets you speak to the Echo Dot from across the room.
As you’d probably expect from a smaller device, it doesn’t offer the same kind of sound quality you’d get from a bigger speaker. But while Echo Dot does have a built-in speaker, it can also be connected to other speakers via an audio cable or Bluetooth connection, essentially adding Alexa voice assistant capabilities to speakers you may already have.
It’s like a fancy, voice-controlled alternative to a Chromecast Audio. Except it also has its own speaker for times you may want to use it without an external speaker. Amazon says you could buy multiple Echo Dots and put them around the house for use as a smart alarm clock in the bedroom or a digital assistant in the kitchen, for example.
How to get one
One weird thing about the Echo Dot? Right now you can only order it using Alexa… so you’ll need an Echo or Amazon Fire TV with Alexa capabilities to order a Dot. You do that buy saying out loud: “Alexa, order an Echo Dot.” You can’t order one from the Amazon website.
At launch Amazon is only offering 1 Echo Dot per order, and only two orders per customer.
The Amazon Tap, on the other hand, is available for order from Amazon’s website. It’s up for pre-order now and should begin shipping March 31st.