Amazon’s Alexa Family Expands With Echo Dot Voice Assistant And Amazon Tap Portable Speaker

EchoDot Receiver
As we first heard in early January, Amazon is expanding its Echo family, and today the company is announcing two new Alexa-powered devices. The first is the Echo Dot, which looks like a regular Echo that has been hit with a shrink ray to take on the form of a hockey puck.

The Echo Dot doesn’t have all of the speaker hardware of its bigger brother and instead connects to your existing speaker system. If you’re at all familiar with the regular Echo, all remaining functionality of the Echo Dot is exactly the same — you’ll even find the same blue glowing ring and a seven-microphone array. You can ask Alexa questions — including U.S. election results — and call on it to control your home automation products. And Like its bigger brother, the Echo Dot needs to be plugged into a wall outlet at all times.

AmazonTap Charging
Amazon Tap

The Echo Dot is priced at $89.99 and is currently available exclusively for Amazon Prime members. For comparison, the standard Echo is twice as expensive at $179.99. If you already have an Echo or a Fire TV, ordering the Echo Dot is as simple as saying “Alexa, order an Echo Dot.”

The second new addition is the Amazon Tap, which is a portable Bluetooth speaker with built-in Alexa functionality. Unlike the Echo and Echo Dot which are always plugged into a wall outlet, and thus can provide “always on” listening capabilities, the Amazon Tap is primarily a battery-powered device. Thus, in order to ask questions, place an order for food, or control your thermostat, you’ll first need to tap the microphone button. On the hardware from the Amazon Tap includes dual stereo speakers with Dolby processing and produces 360-degree omni-directional audio.

AmazonTap ask

The Amazon Tap is available for pre-order right now, and will ship on March 31st, 2016.