Amazon Echo Dot will turn any speaker into Alexa the assistant

New Tap portable speaker joins the Echo party too
Amazon Echo Dot turns any speaker into Alexa

Amazon has officially unveiled the Echo Dot, a smaller version of its digital assistant packed into a speaker.

It's been rumoured for a few months now that Amazon was planning to make a dinkier Echo and the Dot is like a squished version of the first cylindrical speaker. It looks more like a remote for a surround sound system setup.

Essential reading: Amazon Echo Dot review

Crucially, it uses the same voice recognition tech as the bigger Echo with the blue illuminating ring on top letting you know when Alexa, the voice search assistant is listening. The big difference here is that you can connect the Dot up to an existing set of speakers via Bluetooth or the audio cable that's bundled in.

The sound performance on the first gen Echo wasn't great, so that means now you can enjoy responses to your questions and queries with better clarity. You will also be able to ask the Dot to play music from streaming services like Spotify and Pandora too.

There's still a small speaker on board too letting you use it as a smart alarm clock or as a way to control smart home devices including Nest's smart thermostats.

It retains the same Echo smarts as its bigger brother, letting you do things hands-free like order a pizza, call for an Uber, check in on a flights and a whole lot more.

Alexa on the move

Joining the Dot is the Amazon Tap, a portable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled speaker that promises "rich, full-range sound" and has a microphone button to activate the same Alexa Voice Service available with the other members of the Echo clan.

Taking care of the audio performance are dual stereo speakers with Dolby processing to help deliver the clarity and enough power for the 360-degree audio when you're out and about.

Essential reading: The best smart home systems

The Amazon Echo Dot costs $89.99, which is considerably less than the original Echo ($179.99), but it's still not cheap. The Tap meanwhile is priced at $129.99. Both are available for pre-order on the Amazon website now.

The two speakers are only going to be available to Amazon Prime customers though via Alexa voice shopping, which means you need to have an Amazon Echo already or the Amazon Fire TV to get hold of one.

Last year, Amazon opened up the Alexa API to developers, which means this might not be the last of the new devices we see packing the digital assistant.

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