A Closer Look at the Amazon Tap

Last year’s introduction of the Amazon Echo garnered some buzz in the consumer tech industry. Essentially a voice-activated, Internet-connected wireless speaker, the Echo tries to create its own niche as a net appliance suitable for your kitchen or bedroom. The increasing availability of voice-activated smart TVs lessens the need for the device in your home’s entertainment center.

Now the technology giant recently introduced the Echo’s little brother, known as the Amazon Tap. With a smaller footprint, the Tap is aimed at a mobile audience.

Amazon Tap and Sling

Will you need to worry about it consuming too much bandwidth from your wireless account? Let’s take a closer look.

A Handheld Voice-Activated Portable Speaker Set

Amazon is marketing Tap as a device for folks when on the go. As it doesn’t come with its own cellular service, Amazon expects owners to use the Tap by accessing a mobile hotspot, your own wireless account, or your home’s Internet service over WiFi. When on the go, it will be important to periodically check your Internet speed to ensure the hotspot in question provides enough bandwidth to stream music without extra buffering.

Unlike the Echo, you actually have to press a button to turn on the Tap’s voice control, thus the name of the product. This design feature was probably added to conserve battery power. Amazon promises nine hours of operation after charging it on the included docking station.

You also need to use the Alexa app to connect to the Internet. This is available for the iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire mobile operating systems. Most mobile users will also opt for the Tap Sling, available in six colors, to protect the device and enhance its portability. Additionally, the device supports Bluetooth connectivity.

Amazon Tap Delivers Sound from Dolby

The Tap houses two stereo speakers oriented opposite from each other to provide omni-directional sound with extra bass response. Dolby processing is also used to enhance the overall sound quality.

Since playing music is the device’s most obvious use-case, support for Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and other Internet radio services is included. The Bluetooth feature means you can stream music from a mobile device. Like the Echo, the Tap’s Alexa service answers questions, similar to the iPhone’s Siri, and you can even order a pizza from Domino’s.

Is the Amazon Tap a truly revolutionary niche-busting device? Since you still need to use a mobile app to connect to the Internet, maybe a cheaper Bluetooth speaker combined with a voice-controlled iPhone or Android smartphone works better for some users. It remains to be seen if the Tap will be sold in retail stores where you can actually compare the speaker sound quality with similarly priced models from Bose or JBL.

However, if you already own a Kindle Fire and subscribe to Amazon Prime Music, the Tap is definitely something worth exploring.