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Amazon Echo vs Echo Dot vs Amazon Tap: What’s the difference?

Amazon Echo vs Amazon Echo Dot vs Amazon Tap comparison review. We compare the new Echo, Echo Dot and Tap smart home devices from Amazon, which boast the smart Alexa voice assistant. What’s the difference and which is best for you?

When Amazon unleashed its smart assistant Alexa onto the world, very few would have guessed how popular it would be. We certainly wouldn’t have predicted that Amazon would package it up in three different smart home speaker systems, which would then take the world by storm.

One of the reasons for Amazon Echo and its siblings’ popularity is the Alexa voice controls. This means playing music, checking the traffic, asking trivia and more is now nice and simple, as well as hands-free. You can carry on cooking or working or generally living your life while also receiving essential info and controlling your smart home gadgetry. All without having to dig your phone out and unlock it, or even touch a single button. Surely this is the future of our home tech.

So with three Alexa devices available, which is the best way to get Amazon’s smart assistant in your life? Here’s what each Amazon speaker has to offer, so you can decide which one (or more) are best for you.

Amazon Echo

The big chief leader of the Alexa gadget gang is the Amazon Echo. This stands quite literally above the others at 235mm tall and packs the most impressive audio punch, with 360-degree sound from a 2.5-inch woofer and 2.0-inch tweeter. Like all three Alexa offerings, the Echo has Amazon’s 7-microphone array for picking up audio commands wherever they come from in the room. Yup, even over playing music.

The Echo plugs into the mains for power and is always on, which means it’s always listening for a command. That might sound creepy but the speaker won’t hear you unless you call it by saying “Alexa”. Then you can order it to do your bidding, from playing music and making to-do lists to setting alarms, calling an Uber or reading audio books and PDFs. The Echo will even check the weather or find out the traffic conditions for your commute.

Amazon’s Echo uses your home’s Wi-Fi connection via its dual-antenna Wi-Fi. But it also features Bluetooth connectivity and can playback music from a connected device like your smartphone or tablet.

Amazon Echo is out now in the UK for £149.

Amazon Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo Dot is the smaller accompaniment to the full-sized Echo, at just 84mm high. The idea here is to offer multiple versions of the full-sized Echo for cheaper, so you can have your entire home voice-controlled.

The downside is that this isn’t a dedicated speaker system. That means you’ll need to plug it into an existing speaker if you want to use it to play music. That said, it does have a small speaker built in, but this is reserved just for voice feedback from Alexa – rather than being music-level good.

Since the Dot is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-connected it can pretty much do everything the Echo can, minus that built-in speaker playback. If you want to be able to tell your Nest to heat up the house from wherever you are, this is an ideal solution. The Echo Dot is even smart enough to know which of your Alexa devices is closest to you at any given time. That means only one will listen, thus avoiding errors.

The Amazon Echo Dot is available to buy in the UK now and can be bought in sets, but a single one will cost you £50.

Amazon Tap

The Amazon Tap is a bit different to the other two Alexa options as it isn’t always listening. That means you’ll need to press the button on top of the speaker to issue a voice command. Yup, that sorta defeats the point of a hands-free assistant, but this is more about being mobile.

The Amazon Tap, which is US only at the time of publishing, is a battery powered speaker that stands between the Echo and the Dot at 66mm tall. You get 9 hours of charge before the Tap needs to go back to its cradle for a top-up. It uses dual 1.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators for 360-degree speaker power and also has the Echo’s 7-microphone array for listening.

If you choose the Tap you’ll still get full Alexa controls, since the device connects to Wi-Fi. However, it’s probably more useful as a Bluetooth connected speaker for when you’re out and about.

The Amazon Tap is available in the US now for $130.