Amazon made a big splash last year with their Echo home assistant. With beta testers getting the sleek hardware for a cut-rate price, Amazon has put their virtual assistant, Alexa, into thousands of homes. Knowing a successful product when they see one, Amazon has now unleashed the Amazon Tap on the world as the Echo’s smaller, simpler, cheaper counterpart.
The Tap is, at heart, a simple bluetooth speaker with some nice design points to set it apart from the rest of the huge competition in the landscape of bluetooth speakers. Amazon’s Tap doesn’t just pump out sound from any of your bluetooth-enabled streaming devices but, when it’s connected to a wifi network, it gives you all the capabilities of Alexa. And that’s a wide range of capabilities since Alexa connects Amazon users to their own shopping site, music store and a host of other streaming and shopping sites like Spotify or even Dominos Pizza.
If you’re reading this and wondering to yourself what the difference is between this and a full-blown Amazon Echo, it comes down to size, use as an independent, portable bluetooth speaker and requires you to actually push the button - hence the Tap name - instead of Echo’s always listening convenience. That seems like a small difference in discussion but in practice it’s a big strike against the ease with which Tap users can initiate the AI assistant. Then again, for those on the more privacy-minded end of the spectrum, it’s may ease your mind knowing that you can still get all of Alexa’s functionality without her listening to you at all times.
The nuts and bolts of the Tap are a boon to its overall quality. Extensive battery life makes for nine hours of music playback, the most consistent thing you can do with a bluetooth speaker. The included charging dock is an easy way to keep the Tap in its place and powered up, ready for you to take it out with you. As summer approaches, the Tap is a best of both worlds solution for music on the go and convenience in the home. They’re available only from Amazon.com for $129.