Alexa goes mobile with new Amazon Tap and Echo Dot for smart homes

Amazon now has a portable version of the Echo, along with the Echo Dot, which are designed to augment existing installations with the Echo.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

Amazon Tap and Echo Dot

Alexa, aka the Amazon Echo, is coming to two new members of the product line. The Amazon Tap is a portable version of the Echo to allow taking Alexa everywhere. The Echo Dot is a small device designed to augment existing Echo installations.

The Amazon Tap looks like a shorter Echo and has a battery (nine hours music playback, and three weeks standby) allowing it to go mobile. It's reminiscent of portable speakers from other vendors, but with Echo capabilities. The Tap has a microphone button that is pressed to speak commands.

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The Tap has Wi-Fi, and can also be used as a Bluetooth speaker. It looks like many other portable speakers on the market, but with Echo smarts. It features stereo speakers with Dolby.

To use the Echo features in the Tap it must be connected to the web. This can be done without available Wi-Fi by using a smartphone hotspot, allowing interacting with the Tap virtually anywhere.

Amazon Tap is $129.99 and is available to order from Amazon. Shipping is expected to begin later in March.

First look at Echo Dot: Add Alexa anywhere

Joining the Tap is the Echo Dot, a device that looks like a hockey puck. Unlike the original Echo and the new Tap, the Dot only has a small speaker to handle functions like sounding alarms.

The Dot is designed to install in homes that have an Amazon Echo. It's essentially an extension of the Echo to put in rooms outside the Echo's reach. It can eliminate the need to have multiple Echos in rooms to control smart home appliances. Put Dots in each room where control is needed and connect the Dots to the network.

The Echo Dot has the far-field audio technology used in the Echo along with a ring of lights on top of the device to indicate what is happening. The small speaker allows the Dot to work well as an alarm clock that operates by voice.

It has a line-in connector so any speakers can be plugged into it. This enables using the Dot to add voice control to audio systems.

The Echo Dot is available now to order, but only for Amazon Prime members that already own an Echo or Fire TV. In fact, the only way to order one is by issuing a "Alexa, order Echo Dot" command to an Echo or Fire TV. It is $89.99 and will start shipping shortly.

Amazon has turned the Echo into a platform by previously adding skills to Alexa. It furthers that by now releasing APIs that allow Alexa-enabled devices to control thermostats, including those from Honeywell and Nest.

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