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Amazon Tap review: Alexa's magic is gone

News Summary:

You don’t have to bother saying "Alexa" out loud anymore.

News Content:

If you own an Amazon Echo, or even if you’ve just seen Alec Baldwin’s commercials for it, you know that this gadget talks back when you address it by name. Alexa, what’s going on in the news? Alexa, play some relaxing music. Alexa, order more paper towels for me.

Last week, Amazon shipped a device that doesn’t answer to anyone, no matter what you call it. The $129.99 Amazon Tap is a standalone, portable Bluetooth speaker version of the Amazon Echo1. Except it only works when you reach out and tap a button on it before speaking — you don’t even have to bother saying "Alexa" out loud after you hit the button. 

Despite its disassociation with the "Alexa" wake word, the Tap still works with all of Amazon’s Alexa Voice Services, so you (or Alec Baldwin) can still use it to set timers, play music, order diapers, or dim the lights — after you press the microphone button.

The Amazon Tap is a black cylinder that measures about the height of a large glass of water. It’s a little shorter than the $149.99 UE Boom 2 and noticeably smaller, all around, than the $179.99 Amazon Echo.

My favorite feature of the Tap is its included charging cradle, which saves you the hassle of reaching behind a desk or couch to untangle a charging cable when this thing runs out of juice. Amazon estimates that the Tap’s battery will last for nine hours of music playback, and since it sleeps when it’s not being used, and I regularly dropped it back in its cradle to charge, I was never surprised by a dead battery.

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