- Music Streaming via Wi-Fi
- Alexa virtual assistant
- Microphone has to be pushed manually for voice commands
- Speaker quality is average for Dolby enabled devices
- Price Tag
It seems like Amazon is getting very aggressive in diversifying its product lines, especially in the past few years. Previously known as an online shopping website, this multi-billion company stretched its offerings from e-book readers to smartphones. They also successfully ventured the smart speaker industry in 2014 with Amazon Echo as their entry. This product proved to be a hit with over 30,000 positive customer feedbacks and glowing critical reviews from tech sites. This is due to the fact that Echo has a virtual assistant named Alexa which follows voice commands and performs various tasks like creating a to-do-list, playing music and setting alarms and timers. Major concerns for the Echo were its portability as its quite large dimensions. This year, Amazon answered these concerns and announced its smaller version called the Tap, which will be available on March 31, 2016.
|Sound quality||Amazon Tap has two 1.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators for bass extension. Moreover, it is powered by Dolby to deliver a crisp sound and omnidirectional speakers (produce sound in all directions).|
|Connectivity||It is Wi-Fi enabled and supports both PC and mobile hotspots that use 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11g. In case internet connectivity is limited or disabled, the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) is compatible for streaming songs from your smartphones through Bluetooth. Audio/Video Remote Control Profile, on the other hand, is used for voice control but is not available on Mac OS X devices.|
|Extra features||Included in the box is the Amazon Tap unit, Charging Cradle, micro USB Table and adapter cable and a user guide manual. Multi-colored skins are also available but are sold separately from this product. The main feature which really sets this product apart - you can use with as a home automation controller. Other features derive from the presence of Alexa, the intelligent virtual assistant.|
|Usability||Amazon Tap is relatively easy to use. Just press the switch located at the lower back of the unit and use your smartphone (or PC) to connect it with Alexa App. Then tap the microphone switch at the upper portion of Tap for your voice command. Located just above is the light indicator of the battery status. The top has the volume control. When connected with Wi-Fi, it uses Alexa Voice Service to stream music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora or iHeartRadio. Amazon Tap is also compatible with iTunes for Apple device users. One can also ask for the latest news on the internet, as well as mundane tasks like ordering food from the nearest fast food chain. In the absence of internet connectivity, Amazon Tap utilizes Bluetooth in order to stream music from your mobile phone or tablet.
|Dimension and Weight||The Amazon Tap is 6.2 inches tall and has a diameter of 2.6 inches. The charger cradle is 0.6 inch high and 2.6 inches long and wide, respectively. The main smart speaker weighs 470 grams while the charger is 109 grams. The size is just enough for it to be used in outdoor activities without much hassle.
Normally, the battery can last up to 9 hours of continuous playback. However, actual battery life might vary depending on the device settings and the environment a user is in.
|Warranty||It has a 1-year limited warranty but can be extended by one to three years depending on the user options, for additional price.|
|Price||It costs $ 129.99 which is more expensive than most available smart speakers on the market. The colored skins cost $ 19.99 and the extended warranty for 2 years costs $ 34.99.|
The latest offering from Amazon’s line of smart speakers cater the sociable and outgoing persons for its portability and ability to connect to devices via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. For starters, Amazon Tap looks gorgeous and exquisite for a smart speaker. Tap maintains Alexa support, which enables you to engage in various tasks, such as asking info about the weather, calling a cab or placing a pizza order. The virtual assistant will also notify you if your unit’s batter power is running low. The Alexa App is available on Android, Fire OS and iOs and can be also accessed through its website. Be reminded that connecting Amazon Tap to a mobile hotspot will cost you standard rates as implemented by your network provider. In terms of sound quality, Tap is at par with Echo, which can be dull for discerning listeners but reasonable for casual users. As for the streaming websites, you have to be subscribed before you can stream music.
Amazon Tap’s price might be above the normal market price for other smart speakers available but its specifications have good value for money. Amazon speakers are only products of their kind which are compatible with a virtual assistant. This product also has a competitive advantage over its competitors, because of it can connect through Wi-Fi to stream music, unlike the traditional smart speakers which need flash drives or SD cards to play. The inclusion of a special unit charger is also welcoming. Unlike Amazon Echo last year, some trade-offs have to be assumed, for achieving portability. Its predecessor has a default voice command mode so a user can speak with it anytime. To optimize battery life without the additional weight, a microphone switch has to be turned on whenever you are going to send commands to Alexa in Amazon Tap. This may sacrifice usability, but it increases reliability. Another potential beef of this product is it price. While Amazon Tap is more affordable than Echo, it is still more expensive than other portable speakers available on the market. Last, no release date outside the United States has been announced so far, making its availability limited.
Amazon’s entry to portable speakers is bound to be a success, as this product packs features not normally found with other competitors. The price might irk some, but this gizmo still retains good value for money. Any questions? Don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments section bellow.