The Echo by Amazon captured a great deal of media attention for its innovative ‘Alexa' technology coupled into a small, elegant form-factor. While we found the price a bit high for its capabilities at our time of review, Amazon has been working hard to add more features (like Spotify support), and the overall value for the price has significantly increased over time.
Just this morning, the company headed by billionaire Jeff Bezos has announced two additional Alexa devices at lower price points to satisfy different customer needs:
While the original Echo has a built-in speaker which offers excellent sound capabilities, the Echo Dot is designed for those who already have a reliable home audio system and wish to enabled it with ‘Alexa' technology. The Echo Dot is a compressed version of the original Echo with the same circular design just in a much shorter form-factor. It is primarily intended to be used in combination with an existing home audio system although it does have a small speaker for use with alarms, timers and other utilities which require audible feedback.
The Echo Dot is currently available for purchase exclusively for Prime subscribers for $89.99 through Alexa Voice Shopping. There has not been any further information as to when or how much it cost when it launches to the mass market.
One of the notable downfalls that I had given to the original Echo in my review was its reliance on a constant power source to function. This meant you couldn't carry it with you for on the go use or when camping. For those who wanted an Alexa-style portable speaker, Amazon has answered your prayers with their new Tap device.
The Tap is more like the original Echo than the Echo Dot, offering a cylinder design covered primarily by a mesh speaker material. Internally, the Tap harnesses Dolby speakers that provide a 360-degree omnidirectional audio output and a built-in battery that will power up to nine hours of playback on a single charge. Unlike the original Echo, this is not a standalone
Any modern Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet will be able to stream audio to this device, but you'll still need Wi-Fi access, or a mobile hotspot enabled to access the Alexa Voice Service while on the go.
Amazon is already taking pre-orders for the Tap at its $129.99 price-point with an estimated shipping date of March 31st.