Alexa is tethered no more. As much as we love the Echo, you have to keep it plugged in to ask it questions, play your favorite tunes and control your smart home devices. Amazon is now looking to let you use its virtual assistant anywhere you are.
The retail giant has just introduced the $89 Echo Dot, which brings Alexa voice controls to your existing home speakers, as well as the $129 Amazon Tap, a portable Bluetooth speaker that lets you use Alexa on the go.
The puck-shaped Echo Dot is essentially an Amazon Echo, just without a dedicated speaker for music. It has all of the same smart features found on its $179 bigger brother, including the ability to read you the news, set your alarm and control your smart-home devices via voice controls. If you want to use the Dot to play music, you can simply hook it up to your existing speakers via Bluetooth or its included 3.5mm audio jack.
There's one awkward catch though; as of now, you can only order an Echo Dot via Alexa Voice Shopping. That means you'll need to already own either an standard Amazon Echo or an Alexa-enabled Fire TV in order to buy this bite-sized assistant.
The Amazon Tap, on the other hand, is what we've wanted all along: an Amazon Echo that you can take on the road . This cylindrical Bluetooth speaker lets you tap into all of the same Alexa commands you'd find on an Echo, so long as its connected to either Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot. To activate Alexa, you need to tap the speaker and ask for music from your streaming service of choice, whether it's Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio or TuneIn.
The Tap features Dolby-powered dual stereo speakers, which offer 360-degree audio thanks to the speaker's curvy construction. Amazon says to expect 9 hours of battery life, which seems sufficient for a road trip or a day at the beach.
Despite the Echo Dot's strange Alexa exclusivity, both of these new gadgets provide even more ways to take advantage of Amazon's neat virtual assistant. We look forward to seeing how well Alexa holds up throughout our homes and on the road once we put the Dot and Tap through our full review process.