What's so Great about Amazon Tap?

The Amazon Tap is one of the premier devices which provides access to the Alexa voice assistant.  Most people have heard of the full size Echo and the short Echo Dot.    Yet, as I speak to others, I find not as many people are familiar with the Echo Tap.  This article takes a look at it in comparison to the other Echo devices.

Here are the highlights of the differences present:

  • It has buttons for Play, Previous and Next on the top of the device.  The other Echo devices do not have these controls.  You still have voice commands for this functionality.
  • It is battery operated. The batteries last about 8-10 hours on a full charge.
  • It comes with a charging stand, which you use to 'juice it up'.  You need to place it in the stand to charge.  I do like the charing stand, as the Tap always has a place to sit.
  • The Front light indicators are different.  It is a set of 5 lights next to each other.  Not the circular, rotating blue light which is on the Echo and Dot.
  • It has a 3.5 mm audio input.  The Dot has a 3.5mm audio connector but it is for output only.  The full size Echo does not have an input or output audio connector.
  • Volume Controls is similar to the Dot, there are two buttons for up and down.  On the full size Echo (and the first generation Dot) there is a ring that you rotate to change volume level.  There are always voice commands to control volume.
  • The Tap does NOT have the 7-microphone sensor that the other two devices have.
  • Button for giving Voice Commands.  You press a button down to speak.  Unlike the Echo and Dot, which use a wakeword, the Tap does not use a wakeword. There is no hands-free mode on the Tap. UPDATE 2/7/2017: A new firmware enhancement has made the button optional.  You can enable a "hands-free" mode to have the Tap respond to the Alexa wakeword, just like the Echo and Dot.  The default is to use the button.
  • The Tap does NOT have the Action button on the top, which the regular Echo and Dot have.  The function of this button is primarily to turn off alarms and timers, which you can also do with voice commands, simply with "Alexa, stop".

Those are the main differences.   

It still has the great selection of Skills, like all versions of the Alexa.  You can stream from the same music sources on all three devices.  You can play music from your phone using bluetooth.  However, you cannot send the output of the Tap to another bluetooth speaker (which can be done on the Dot).

In my opinion it is nice to have the charging stand come with the device.  How many electronic devices have this ability, let alone don't require you to pay extra for it as an add-on?  You can purchase an extra charging cradle from Amazon as well.  

One other area of customization available to Tap owners is a special cover, of which you can pick of one six colors!  There is Blue, Orange ('tangerine'), Pink ('magenta'), Green, White and Black.  A case costs an extra twenty dollars.  This may or may not be your thing, but it is a nice option for those who like to personalize their device a bit.  

There are no cases available from Amazon for the full size Echo, although there are cases (in six different styles) available for Echo Dot users, the colors are more suited for the living room or bedroom.  

Summary

When consider purchasing this device, you should probably consider your use case.  The Tap is intended a portable device.  Remember that to use Alexa you need to have WiFi capability.  If you are out of range, you have no Alexa, no voice streaming.  What you have left is using as a bluetooth speaker from your mobile device.  

If you are always around a WiFi signal you should be fine.  However, when on the road, you might need to open up WiFi hotspot on your phone or try to make use of an open hotspot.

It is a great device, and has high reviews on the Amazon Store.  It is just important to be aware of it's capabilities before buying it over one of the other models of Echo.

 

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