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.
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.
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