Amazon’s Echo continues to drive smart home technology adoption, impressing users with the Alexa voice assistant, her growing usefulness at providing information and ability to control smart devices. The recent limited launch of the Dot and Tap give buyers two new ways to make use of Alexa and enjoy the features that make the growing Echo family popular.
The new Tap adds portability to the range, linking to your phone for a go-anywhere approach, while the Dot is useful for rooms around the home where you don’t need the original’s slender cylinder speaker.
But which is right for you? We take a look at the pair of new devices and consider which would be the most useful. What are the additional benefits and what could you miss out on?
Contents (Jump to)
Key Features – What Are We Comparing?
- Tougher and Portable: The $129 Amazon Tap offers a tougher, portable version of the original Echo. That pricing and portability aims it squarely at the younger and more active market, who like to belt out tunes on the go, but are also increasingly used to ordering pizza on the fly. They can also use it at home as their personal Echo, and then take it on or off the road.
- High Fidelity Speakers: There are lots of dumb portable rugged speakers on the market, but with its Dolby speakers and Alexa tagging along for the ride via your phone connection, it can do plenty more beside churn out the latest music, sports broadcasts or your favorite podcast.
- Optional Colored Carrying Cases: Like the original, it is only available in black, but to cater for the younger crowd, there are optional colored carry cases for greater protection in white, black, blue, green, magenta and tangerine.
- Solid Battery Life: It offers up to nine hours active battery life, which should see it through plenty of use.
- Lightweight and Compact: The $90 Echo Dot is effectively a smaller, slimline version of the Echo with hands-free, voice controlled interaction via its clever array of microphones for around-the-room voice recognition. In the shrink, it still requires mains power, but has lost the big speakers, with only modest audio.
- Best for Bluetooth: This change encourages users to run sound via Bluetooth or an audio lead, to hook the Dot up to your stereo, while it can also work as an alarm clock or play a radio show next to your bed.
- Smart Interface: The upper part of the Dot is its volume control, with a microphone off button to stop it from listening. The glowing light ring shows when Dot is working away and the diminutive Dot can easily fit on any surface.
Pros and Cons of the Tap vs Dot
- Pro – Mobility: The Tap helps take the Echo out of the living room and allows homes to have one in the bathroom or garden.
- Pro – More Rugged: What it loses in audio fidelity with the smaller speakers and lack of a woofer, it makes up for in ruggedness and flexibility. It is not waterproof so either bag it up or keep it away from the side of the pool.
- Pro/Con – Access Streaming Services/Need to “Tap”: You do have to tap the microphone button to talk to Alexa, but once there you can feed into your Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn streams and access other services.
- Pro – Extra Charger for On the Go: There’s a provided charger to refresh it when not in use, and you can still use it while it is charging.
- Con – Only Available for Amazon Prime Subscribers (right now): That aside, perhaps the biggest limitation is that Tap can only be ordered by Amazon Prime Subscribers for now, with a full launch likely later in the year.
- Con – Requires Some Extra Investment: Remember to add $20 for one of the protective cases, and good luck getting one just now if you’re not already an Alexa user. If you have a really active lifestyle then the $34.99 two-year warranty might also be a good move.
- Pro – Extends Your Echo Network: The Dot helps take the Echo out of the living room and allows homes to have one in the kitchen, bedroom or wherever. It can help as a cooking assistant or order supplies that are running out in the pantry, while it can be a smart alarm clock or reminder in the bedroom.
- Pro – Helps You Uncover Functionality: Promoting voice interaction, the Echo Dot helps users learn about the potential it offers, and should help drive sales of plenty of smart home products.
- Pro – Links to the Larger Smart Home Grid: The Echo Dot and Alexa are designed to be used with an iOS or Android app to connect to service and learn more about the device. As with the bigger Echo, it links to plenty of smart home devices and services to give you voice control over your home.
- Con – Only for Alexa Users: Currently, Echo Dot is still only available to Alexa users, but expect it to hit the full market soon.
- Con – No Battery and Needs Internet: The lack of a battery might annoy some, but this is still very much a home product and it is still reliant on your Internet connection, otherwise it is just a piece of plastic.
- Con – Interesting, But Needed? Functionally, Amazon Echo Dot is a clever and useful variant on the original Echo, but users might start wondering just how many devices Amazon expects users to own. And, of course, there’s the added cost of your Amazon Prime subscription and the all-too-easy risk of going on a voice activated shopping spree, as these things are made ever easier.
Comparison – Tap vs Dot Core Specs
|Specs||Amazon Dot||Amazon Tap|
|Dimensions||1.5” x 3.3”, 1.68lb
|6.2″ x 2.6″ x 2.6″ ”, 1.1lb|
|Color options||Black||Black with colored cases
|OS support||Fire OS, iOS, Android
|Fire OS, iOS, Android|
|Speakers||Small speaker, 3.5mm audio port||2 x 1.5-inch drivers with 2 x passive radiators for bass|
|Price||$90 (check here for latest)||$129 (check here for latest)|
|WiFi||Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi|| Bluetooth, WiFi
Final Recommendation – Which is Best for You?
If you own the original Echo, then your first in line to get the new members of the family.
So who are they best for?
- The Echo Dot adds greater audio flexibility for audiophiles, and makes it less expensive to expand the Alexa technology to other rooms. Check here for pricing on the Dot.
- The Tap – which anyone can buy – is great for more active or younger users who like to remain connected wherever they are. Check here for deals on the Tap.
Whichever form you need her in, the power of Alexa will help smart homeowners control their devices and systems, and encourage the sales of new gear as Amazon’s assistant gets even smarter.
Further read, Nucleus Anywhere vs Amazon Echo Show
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!