Amazon Reveals New Alexa-Themed Devices

By: Nick Gambino

On Thursday Amazon unveiled two Alexa-enabled devices that you can add to your home to smarten it up.

First up is the Echo Dot which is basically a smaller version of the Amazon Echo, their version of a smart speaker. Well that’s not entirely accurate. It’s basically the Echo minus the speaker. So what’s the point? Don’t worry, it does things. Let me elaborate.

The Echo Dot looks like a little hockey puck, allowing you to place it pretty much anywhere in the house without having to worry too much about interior decoration. By plugging it into an existing speaker or connecting it to that speaker via Bluetooth, you’ve now created a voice-activated device.

Again, think the Echo but instead of the speaker built in, it uses Amazon_Echo3an existing speaker to do the same job. This is perfect if you’ve already got a great speaker system set up but want the lazy option of talking to it instead of pushing buttons with your fingers.

You and Alexa can speak right through the speaker. Ask her something and she’ll answer. Remember she’s a virtual assistant so you don’t have to only ask her to play music. Ask her to call you an Uber or turn on another smart product in the house. Let your imagination run wild.

Next up is the less impressive but still cool, Amazon Tap portable speaker. The Tap looks a lot like the taller Echo but as I said it’s portable. There are no wires or cables to contend with. Instead it’s batter-powered with 9 hours of audio streaming life per charge or 3 weeks of life on standby mode.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to tap the mic button to turn Alexa on (get your mind outta the gutter). I guess that’s why they call it the Tap, because it’s worthless unless you tap it. Once you’ve activated Alexa, though, you can access the virtual assistant’s full features.

Weirdly, Amazon has made the Dot a pain to buy. You have to be an Amazon Prime member but also own either the Echo or Fire TV. You can only purchase it by using Alexa voice shopping as featured on either of those two devices.

To make it worse you can only order one at a time and only two Dots per customer. I guess I see why they’re doing that but, I mean, c’mon. What a way to shoot yourself in the foot before you’ve even gotten out of the gate.

There is one workaround that some genius found, though I don’t know how long this will work. Search for “Echo Dot” on the Amazon iOS app and instead of clicking on the search result, just swipe right to add it to your cart. Now you can order it!

Thankfully, the Tap can be ordered right on Amazon without some fancy workaround.

The Amazon Dot goes for $89.99 and the Amazon Tap is $129.99. Both are available for pre-order now.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch.  He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.


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