The Amazon Echo is still yet to get a UK release date, despite Amazon adding two new Alexa-enabled devices to its line-up.
Yesterday Amazon unveiled two new Alex-enabled devices that do many of the same tasks as the company’s original Echo. The Echo Dot is a shrunk down version of the original Echo, while the Amazon Tap is a Bluetooth speaker with Alexa built-in.
Both of the new Alexa-enabled devices offer users a more affordable option over the traditional Echo speaker. They’re also completely different form factors, as the Echo Dot is short and stubby, while the Amazon Tap is a wireless speaker that doesn’t need to be constantly plugged in.
While the Echo Dot is the most similar in design to the original Echo, Amazon has stripped much of its functionality. Instead the Echo Dot is supposed to complement a separate speaker, meaning users don’t have to choose the Echo over the likes of Denon’s HEOS range or Sonos.
Plugging in the Echo Dot to something like Sonos will enable users to bark commands at the device, asking it to play music, without having to use an App on their smartphone. Essentially the Echo Dot makes other speakers smarter.
It should still be able to understand users over the music from that external speaker as well, as Amazon has included the same seven-microphone array which made it so good in the first place. It has also brought the volume ring, mute and action buttons directly over from the original Echo.
The Echo Dot work with all the third-party services the original Echo works with – which includes the newly announced Nest integration, as well as the likes of Ford and Insteon.
The Amazon Tap is a different affair however, as the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker is primarily for music playback. While it does include Alexa functionality, users have to physically tap the microphone button – unlike the Echo and Echo Dot.
Despite that it enables users to do things they wouldn’t be able to do with a Sonos or Denon HEOS system – such as play songs from Spotify without a smartphone connected to the network. That’s because the speaker directly connects to Spotify and users interface with the service using their voices.
It features two speakers for omni-directional Dolby-processed sound, while the in-built battery is supposedly good for nine hours of music playback and three weeks of standby.
The Amazon Tap can be acquired from the retail giant’s online store for $129.99 (£92). The same can’t be said for the $89.99 (£64) Echo Dot however, which can only be bought using Alexa Voice – meaning users will need to already own an Echo (or Fire TV) to buy an Echo.