Amazon has just announced two new devices that pick up on the success of the Amazon Echo speaker and Alexa voice assistant in very different ways. One is the Amazon Tap – the widely rumored smaller and (somewhat) cheaper portable version of the Echo itself. But the other, and potentially far more interesting and versatile device, is the Amazon Echo Dot receiver, “a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses the same far-field voice recognition as Amazon Echo,” which basically extends the Alexa service and integrates it with almost any home audio device or speaker system.
The Amazon Tap is a $129.99 “portable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled speaker” that has Alexa inbuilt and accessible by tapping on a button. It’s 6.2″ x 2.6″ x 2.6″ (159 mm x 66 mm x 66 mm), and comes with a charging cradle, as well as a micro USB socket for charging on the move. It’s similar in size but much cheaper than the $179.99 UE Boom 2 that Amazon compares it to on the Tap page, and of course, comes with the Alexa services that Amazon also trumpets extensively, including Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora TuneIn, iHeartRadio … and of course, Audible audiobooks.
At $89.99, meanwhile, the Echo Dot enables you to “add Alexa to any room,” with seven inbuilt microphones, Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream audio to a Bluetooth speaker, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, a 3.5 mm audio output socket, and a micro USB charging port. The puck-like device can sit next to a speaker, plugged into one, or simply stream at a distance. The many services advertised with the Alexa app include “see what books are available to read from your Kindle and Audible libraries.” Not to mention using “Echo Dot to switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or turn up the thermostat while reading in your favorite chair.”
As already mentioned in TeleRead, the Echo/Alexa combo can stream audiobooks, and some non-Audible Kindle books as well. Echo Dot allows you to implement this on any audio device that it can connect to, and doesn’t require a bulky and expensive dedicated speaker to do it. Amazon now has the device to make its Alexa home automation platform truly pervasive throughout the house, at a far more attractive price point. I’m betting you’ll be streaming your audiobooks, and doing just about anything else, through the platform soon.