Amazon today announced two new lower cost voice-activated personal assistants that work just like the original Echo. The first one is essentially a portable version that’s called Echo Tap. The second one is the smallest and cheapest in-home model that you can connect to a speaker for music, but it doesn’t have one built-in. It’s called Echo Dot.
Both Tap and Dot work the same by asking Alexa to perform various app-related tasks or answer questions. The main difference with Tap, is that you physically have to press the button (or tap it) to initiate voice commands. However, it still needs to be connected to a Wi-Fi network to make it function if you take it around town. But it could also be handy to carry it to any room you need it. Tap boasts 9 hours of battery life, and sits on a charging base for easy recharging.
Echo Dot could be your starter entrant to Amazon’s voice-assist services. Amazon thinks you’ll want more than one, so you can place them in various rooms and know Alexa can be summoned with the least amount of effort. A 3.5mm audio out jack allows you to connect headphones, powered speakers, or an A/V receiver for improved audio listening. Dot also will stream music to a Bluetooth wireless speaker that is in range.
Alexa is the brain behind the Echos, built in the cloud, so it is always getting smarter. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo is always connected, updates are delivered automatically. Third-party skills from developers add even more capabilities like ordering a pizza from Domino’s, requesting a ride from Uber, opening your garage with Garageio, and more. Enabling skills lets your Echo Dot do even more—simply discover and enable the skills you want to use in the Alexa App.
Price and Availability
Amazon Echo Tap will be available March 31, 2016 and pre-ordered now for for $129.99.
Amazon Echo Dot is available for $89.99 in limited quantities and exclusively for Prime members through Alexa Voice Shopping. To order your Echo Dot, use your Amazon Echo or Amazon Fire TV and just ask, “Alexa, order an Echo Dot.”
Amazon Echo $179.99 (available now)