It has been long enough since the first introduction of Amazon’s home Bluetooth speaker-housed, cloud-based virtual assistant Alexa that looking in to it is no longer “jumping on the bandwagon.” An act that might, if the Samsung Galaxy S7 has taught us anything, literally burst into flames in our face.
That’s the problem with the bandwagon. A lot of the time, we realize that the products are kind of useless several months afterwards, but it’s been over a year. Alexa and her systems have been tested, and they are still looking pretty cool. Instead of just one option, you now have access to Alexa on the Echo, the Dot, and the Tap, all provided by Amazon, and all featuring different disadvantages as well as selling points depending on what you want the most out of your Amazon Bluetooth plaything.
Let’s Get this Showdown Started!
Amazon Echo is like the original iPod. It is your all-around package, but there are smaller or more affordable brand options out there. The original Amazon Echo is not as portable as the Tap and not as affordable as the Echo Dot, but in terms of all-around performance, this flagship product still excels.
The overall problem with these Bluetooth products – all of them – is that they don’t sound as nice as you would expect for the price. The large cylinder shape of the Echo does give better sound radiation, making this the loudest model of the three. However, you can find better performance in sound for a fraction of the price in other Bluetooth speaker brands, but what you are paying for is Alexa.
Alexa, like in all of the products, requires a steady WiFi connection; however, it is quick to pick up spoken commands. The Echo was made to showcase Alexa, so they might have sacrificed some quality to focus on her functionality. Unfortunately, the mobility of the device is completely undermined by the fact that it needs to be plugged in all the time.
Essentially, the Echo is what you want if you live in a big space and you don’t need your Amazon Bluetooth speaker to move. It has great sound if you are in one room, but it can be difficult to hear throughout the house. You can listen to news headlines and weather reports just fine. Even FM radio has decent sound quality and volume, but if you are a real sound junkie, well, this is actually the best you can do if you still want Alexa-enabled.
As the name suggests, the Echo Dot is basically a smaller version of the Echo original. However, as with anything, making something smaller doesn’t always make it better. However, rest assured, Alexa still performs exactly the same. She’ll do anything she does with the Echo for the Echo Dot, and is still always-listening.
However, the shortcomings with the Dot come with the sound quality. Alexa’s voice, for example, is more feeble and just a touch tinnier sounding. As it doesn’t have the height of the original Echo, you also lose that great radiating sound. The Dot also still lacks a built-in battery like the original Echo, so it needs to be plugged in always.
So what is good about it? Well, the drop in price is good. However, those who will want the Dot are those who already have a speaker system set up, be it Bluetooth or otherwise. The Dot is awesome at pairing with other speakers through both Bluetooth and 3.5mm cable. Essentially, you can make your already existing and awesome Bluetooth speaker system Alexa-enabled.
So, in short, on its own, the Dot can’t compare to the original Echo. However, if you already have a speaker system, the Echo original is paltry in comparison to easily-synced Dot.
Now it is time for the last member of the Alexa family (for now, anyway), the Tap. Essentially, the Tap was probably created with other speaker options in mind, namely those like the JBL Flip 3 or the UE Boom 2.
It is a shapely, handsome little cylinder that keeps things light, and, unlike it brethren above, comes with a built-in battery. The battery itself lasts about nine hours playing music, which is pretty standard for Bluetooth speakers of its size. Amazon probably wanted the Tap to be the thing for people who like to travel with their speaker, but they probably should have included even a little bit of advanced water resistance if that was the case.
However, that’s not the only potential problem of travel for the Tap. While it does have a battery so you can move it, Alexa isn’t accessed as seamlessly with the Tap. You see, “always-listening” is an always-battery drain. So to combat it, you have to actually tap the Tap before talking to Alexa. Alexa also needs to be connected to WiFi still to work. So unless there is a hotspot in the middle of nowhere, don’t count on Alexa’s help.
Without Alexa, the Tap is a just-okay Bluetooth speaker. The JBL Flip and UE Boom are cheaper and provide better quality, but the Tap does have Alexa. If you fit the niche, it can be a great portable option, but there are better ones out there.