Technology Review: Amazon Tap

I’m a big fan of the idea of a smart home. Utilizing technology in my living space to manage lighting & energy, for monitoring & security, for convenience, and for entertainment appeals to both the geek and savvy consumer within me. Into my home, which is slowly getting smarter, I recently welcomed the Amazon Tap.

The Smart Home

For many, the first question might be, “what is it exactly?” The answer, my friends is that it is an Alexa – Amazon’s voice-controlled, virtual assistant – enabled portable bluetooth speaker.

Like any good virtual assistant, Alexa can read you the news, give weather updates, play music, serve as an alarm clock, tell jokes, answer queries such as, “Alexa, who was Abraham Lincoln?” and when paired with third-party devices – such as the three TP-LINK Smart plugs in my home – turn lights or appliances on and off.

Design and Features

  • Size: Amazon Tap: 6.2″ x 2.6″ x 2.6″ (159 mm x 66 mm x 66 mm); Charging Cradle: 0.6″ x 2.6″ x 2.6″ (15 mm x 66 mm x 66 mm)
  • Weight: Amazon Tap: 16.6 oz. (470 grams); Charging Cradle: 3.8 oz. (109 grams)
    Actual size and weight may vary by manufacturing process
  • Battery Life: Up to 9 hours of continuous playback. Battery life will vary based on device settings, usage, and environmental factors. Actual results may vary
  • Wi-Fi: Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or mobile hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security using password authentication. Supports 2.4 GHz wireless band only
  • Bluetooth: Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) support for audio streaming from your mobile device to Amazon Tap.  Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) for voice control of connected mobile devices. Media control over AVRCP is not supported for Mac OS X devices
  • Audio: Dual 1.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators for bass extension
  • System Requirements: Amazon Tap comes ready to connect to your home Wi-Fi. The Alexa App is compatible with Fire OS, Android, and iOS devices and also accessible via your web browser. Certain skills and services may require subscription or other fees. When tethering to a mobile device hotspot, standard data rates may apply

Alexa App

Portability is its Signature

The second question might be, “how does it differ from the [first voice-controlled device from Amazon] Echo?” Whereas the Echo – and Dot – are intended more as household, plug-in devices, the Tap is portable. Since they are always ‘listening’ the Echo and Dot need constant juice. Conversely, the Tap can be removed from its cradle and carried with you, and as the technical specifications note, last about nine hours. Since it isn’t always on, you have to push the talk button to deliver the same commands or ask questions instead of shouting them out as you would with an Echo or Dot.

My favorite way to take advantage of the Tap’s portability? Take it along to listen to the news or music when I go out to the back patio to enjoy my morning coffee.

Amazon Tap

The Alexa Family

While I am a huge fan of the Echo – In fact, I was among the first group to request and receive one, way back in November 2014, significantly before its wider release – I wasn’t initially sold on the idea of adding a Tap to my household mix, also joining the dot, which I bought about eight months ago.

The Alexa Family

The primary reason I decided to give the Tap a try was because I was able to get it at a discount during Amazon’s Recent Prime Day Sale, when it was marked down to $99 from its regular price of $129.99. And I’m glad I did! Amazon has done a nice of job taking the virtual assistant features and functionality that have made the Echo a huge success and incorporated them into a portable device.

Final Thoughts

While I haven’t had the Tap a long time, carried it around for a full day in different environments, or thankfully, dropped it, it feels like a solid device with good weight relative to its size and strikes me as very durable.

How about the sound quality? While I haven’t conducted any tests against similar portable speakers, the sound quality is very acceptable to me. It doesn’t sound ‘tinny’ like some might suspect and the bass is fairly robust, in fact, quite good in my opinion, for its small size and intended use.

On the RetirementSavvy Instagram page, I like to use the hashtag #LiveWell … the Tap certainly is a positive part of the endeavor.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.

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