UPDATE: Now get the Dot for $39 at Amazon.
Who is running the household? Your husband? The wife? The dog? No – it’s Alexa. Meet the Amazon Dot and Amazon Tap.
Amazon introduced two more devices to the Echo line, that are designed to control and assist in people’s homes and lives. All through voice activated commands. The two products unveiled Thursday are babies of Amazon’s Echo, called the Amazon Tap and Echo Dot. They cost less than the $180 Echo and offer different features and functionality in an attempt to solidify Amazon’s Internet-connected microphones in your home. The line-up is now 3 strong and each has different functionality in your household.
The Amazon Echo Dot
The Dot is the mini version of the regular Echo that looks like a hockey puck. But it includes a big new feature that the first Echo model doesn’t have: support for external speakers. While the Echo offered premium sound quality for a device its size, it was unable to connect to other speakers you own via line out nor bluetooth. The Echo Dot is now able to do both.
The $89.99 price-tag of the puck-shaped Amazon Echo Dot is much easier on the wallet than the Echo proper’s admission fee of $180.
Amazon made it difficult to get the Dot however, since it can only be ordered through the Amazon Echo by members of Amazon’s Prime subscription service. (Secret’s out: Here’s the link where anyone, Alexa user or not, can order the Dot)
The Amazon Tap extends the company’s embrace of the bluetooth capability. The Tap device is similar to that of speakers like the Beats Pill or UE Boom, but comes with Alexa support.
Unlike the Echo Dot that allows users to call out to Alexa, the Tap requires you push a button to summon Amazon’s assistant. Using Alexa will require that you connect the device to Wi-Fi as well.
Like the former two Echo devices, the Tap provides support for Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music and TuneIn, but notably lacks support for Apple Music. The speaker’s battery lasts for 9 hours on a single charge, according to Amazon. The $129.99 price tag is more expensive than the Dot, but less than the Echo.
Home away from home
The interest in smart homes appears to be rising as more people become enamored with their smartphones. A recent online survey of more than 4,600 adults in the U.S. by Forrester Research’s Technographics found 57% of them either had used or were interested in using a smart home device.
All three provide the ability to play music off of Spotify or Pandora, connect to Phillips Hue, summon Ubers and more are all available to every one of Echo users. And most recently, Amazon announced coming support for Nest and Honeywell thermostats, controlled by voice via the Echo. The competition for controlling your home is becoming very competitive.
“It’s starting to feel like ‘I Robot’ is entering the game”
What’s the HubBub
Alexa is competing against other voice-controlled services such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s search engine that are built into the operating systems of smartphones and other devices that do more than the Echo.
Amazon hopes to beat Google and Apple in their battle to build hubs in “smart” homes that are being furnished with connected appliances, electronics and other Internet of Things. Googles OnHub is essentially a router but is poised to be much more. Google states we’re streaming and sharing in new ways our old routers were never built to handle. But you can use the Google On app to troubleshoot at home or away, see who’s on your network, or enable a friend to help you remotely.
At the end of the day these are cool devices. The functionality increases day-by-day since Alexa learns and becomes intuitive by your conversations. Ironically, we buy devices to control our other devices. It’s starting to feel like I Robot is entering the game.
Amazon Tap and Dot