Amazon's tiny speaker puts a personal assistant in your pocket

Amazon Tap

Last year, Amazon released an intriguing product called the Echo that was part smart assistant and part Bluetooth speaker. Now, the company has basically split the Echo's dual personality into two separate devices called the Echo Dot, and Tap.

One of the biggest limitations of Amazon's original Echo was that you couldn't take it anywhere because it always needed to be plugged in. Well now Amazon has a more portable solution coming soon called Tap.

As appearances go, the Tap looks like any other portable speaker, but it comes with a mind of its own, allowing you to take Alexa on the road. Like the Echo and Echo Dot, you'll be able to ask Alexa a host of questions. But unlike the Echo, which responded to you saying "Hey, Alexa," users will now have to hit a little microphone button on Tap's face instead.

What's more, you can take the Tap on the go and you'll still be able to chat with Alexa, so long as you pair it to your smartphone and use the Alexa app.

Amazon said the Tap is built with speakers that emit 360-degree sound to reach every corner of your room. Battery life should last for about nine hours of active usage, But what sets it apart from others is that it can pop off the bottom, enabling you to swap them out to keep the tunes going.

Amazon Echo Tap

A mini Echo

The Echo Dot is essentially a smaller version of the original Echo that does away with the built-in speaker, while retaining the brains to power Amazon's personal assistant, Alexa. The new device comes in a much more compact hockey puck shape and it still features the same signature ring of light to let you know when it's thinking.

The major difference between the Echo Dot and it progenitor is you can command it from any wired or Bluetooth-connected speaker.

Even if you're not speaking to Alexa in the same room where you placed the Echo Dot, it will be able to hear you, so long as you're within an earshot of your connected speaker –assuming it has a built-in microphone. Amazon promises Alexa will still recognize all the same queries from the basic, like the time and weather, to the more nuanced, like whether or not Leo finally won an Oscar.

You don't have to hook up a giant booming speaker to use the Echo Dot either, as it has a tiny tweeter so you can use it as an alarm clock or timer.

The Echo Dot is on sale starting today for $89 (about £63, AU$121), meanwhile, the Amazon Tap retails for $129 (about £91, AU$175) – comparatively, the Echo costs $179 (about £127, AU$243).

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.