So you’ve decided you want to make friends with Amazon’s Alexa – but which device do you buy first? Here are the differences between the Amazon Echo, Amazon Dot, and Amazon Tap.
What is Amazon Echo?
The Amazon Echo is Amazon’s flagship Alexa device, and will give you the fullest experience with the company’s digital assistant.
It’s a cylindrical speaker that stands nearly 24cm tall, and has full support for voice commands. That means you can shout orders at it using the wake word ‘Alexa', and it will respond with 360-degree sound. A built-in seven microphone array means Echo should have no trouble picking up your voice from anywhere in the room.
Alexa can help you get things done, including answering questions, reading audiobooks aloud, reporting news, traffic, and weather, and providing sports scores and schedules. It also links up to third-party products and services, including Hive, Nest, Uber, and Philips Hue.
Amazon regularly updates the Echo over the cloud, adding new features and skills. And it even gave Alexa a British accent in the UK too.
Here are the Amazon Echo specs:
- Size: 235 x 83.5 x 83.5mm
- Weight: 1,064 grams
- Audio: 2.5-inch woofer 2-inch tweeter (360-degree)
- Power: Wall adapter with 1.8-metre cable
- Connectivity: Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) 802.11a/b/g/n support
- Price: £149.99
- Colours: Black, White
You can buy the Amazon Echo right now in the UK for £149.99.
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What is Amazon Dot?
Amazon Dot is the smallest of the Alexa family at just 3.2cm tall. It’s like the Echo in that it offers full Alexa functionality, but it’s only got a single, tiny speaker inside. That means you won’t want to use it as your go-to sound system. However, you can link it up to your existing speaker system (via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm jack) to get a more Echo-like experience.
Here are the Amazon Dot specs:
- Size: 83.5 x 83.5 x 32mm
- Weight: 163 grams
- Audio: Built-in speaker, 3.5mm stereo output
- Power: Power adapter 9W, USB charging cable
- Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi support for 802.11/a/b/g/n, Bluetooth connectivity
- Price: £49.99
- Colours: Black, White
You can buy the Amazon Echo Dot right now in the UK for £49.99. If you buy six, you’ll get one for free by entering the code DOT6PACK at checkout. And if you add 12 Amazon Echo Dot devices, you’ll get two of them for free with the code DOT12PACK.
What is Amazon Tap?
Amazon Tap is like the Echo, but it’s designed to be used on the go. That portability means you’re getting less impressive audio, but you still get the full Alexa treatment. However, unlike Echo, the Tap isn’t ‘always-on’, which means you’ll need to press a button to activate Alexa, rather than using a wake word.
The Amazon Tap is completely wireless, and charges via a dock – you’ll get 9 hours of continuous music playback, apparently.
Here are the Amazon Tap specs:
- Size: Tap – 159 x 66 x 66mm | Dock – 15 x 66 x 66mm
- Weight: Tap – 470 grams | Dock – 109 grams
- Audio: Dual 1.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators for bass extension
- Power: Charging dock (9 hours of music playback)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi support 802.11b/g/n Bluetooth
- Price: $129.99
- Colours: Black (with coloured cases)
You can buy the Amazon Echo right now in the US for $129.99. Unfortunately, there’s still no word on a UK release.
Which Amazon Alexa device should you buy?
Amazon Echo is the flagship product, and so it’s definitely the most impressive. It beats its smaller siblings on audio quality and features, but it’s the least portable. Plus, if you have an existing multi-room system like Sonos, you might not get much use out of the Echo as a speaker.
Amazon Dot is way cheaper, but you lose all of the Echo’s audio heft. That said, if you’ve already got a sweet sound system, the Dot is a very attractive choice – it’s basically an Alexa upgrade for your speakers.
And the Tap is great if you need a Bluetooth speaker and want Alexa while you’re out and about. But it’ll be a hard sell for customers who already own Bluetooth speakers, and are just as happy chatting away to Siri, Google Now, or Cortana on their phones. There’s also the problem of the Tap not being available in the UK – yet.
If you don’t have a home speaker, grab the Echo. If you do have a home speaker, grab the Dot. And if you’re willing to spend a little more on speaker quality, it’s worth considering a Sonos Play:1 (£169) or Bose SoundTouch 10 (£139), plus a Dot (£50).
If you’re in the US, the Tap might be worth the cash, but portable speakers are abundant in that price range, and your phone probably already has a great digital assistant anyway.
Related: CES 2017
Watch: Hands-on with the Amazon Echo
What do you think of the Amazon Echo? Let us know in the comments.