Amazon Echo and Amazon Tap are two popular Alexa voice assistant gadgets that are very confusing.
In as much as they all support Alexa, they are designed to suit different needs. So, if you are using Amazon Alexa and you don’t know which device will cover your needs, you are at the right place. It is very important to know what they offer and their differences so that you don’t end up spending over $100 for a gadget that won’t suit your needs.
For this reason, we decided to do a review of the Echo and Tap, clearly highlighting the major uses and differences so that you may get the best voice assistant that matches your lifestyle.
Amazon Echo – Best Smart Home Controller
The Echo is always on ready to serve you
Controls Smart Home installations like heaters, fans, lighting, robot vacuum cleaners and so on
Connects to many 3rd party platforms
No monthly costs or subscription fees
Keeps you updated on news events and even weather
Offers great convenience for those with mobility issues and the old
Your privacy is not guaranteed
Can’t directly play music from iTunes; you have to import playlists to Amazon Prime Music
It is stationary
This device is best known for its music streaming capabilities, but again, there are so many devices that can stream music; so what’s the big deal? As an Amazon Prime member, I received the Echo from Amazon back in 2014. 3 years down the line, I must say that it is a very practical personal assistant. You just can’t get bored when alone in the house. You can ask it what the weather is like, the latest news updates or even stream the latest music from Amazon Prime Music, other music platforms or directly from your Smartphone playlist. The best thing about the Echo is its compatibility with Smart Home installations.
I have the Ecobee4 and Roomba 980 which are the Smart Home gadgets I use mostly. When I’m busy and I don’t have my Smartphone in my reach, I just tell the Echo to either turn off the heater or tell my Roomba to clean the floors and just like the perfect PA, it obliges. Switching on/off my bedroom lights is also very simple. I just tell Amazon Echo to do so. If it’s ordering Pizza or an Uber; no calls, no cumbersome ordering processes, the Echo does this for me. If you don’t have the Echo yet, you just don’t know what convenience you’re missing out on.
However, in as much as I find Echo a great assistant, there are a few things I didn’t like.
First, it sends all the data back to Amazon to tailor products just for you. For me, I love my privacy so this is quite a concern. I would also like it with a voice lock feature because right now, anyone can control it; from kids to visitors. Regarding sound quality, the bass response and treble is not as good as what the Tap offers.
Controls Smart Home installations
Connects to 3rd party platforms like Dominos, Uber, among others
Keeps you updated on weather forecasts and news events
Better sound quality
9 hours playback time
Can still be used in case of power outage
Free ‘always listening’ upgrade
As an outdoor gadget, it is not all-weather
Doesn’t have voice activation, you have to tap
While the Echo is best known as a home automation controller, Amazon Tap is a portable speaker courtesy of its portability. It remains my favorite outdoor companion; I hardly use it for the same purposes as the Echo – Smart Home control. When in an outing with it, at no time will I find myself tethering it to my Smartphone Wi-Fi just to check out the latest news or even order a Pizza or an Uber. Why would I go through all that? Instead, I’ll just do it on my Smartphone.
The good thing about the Echo is that it is always on and connected to the cheaper home internet so whenever you want something, it is instant! I will still insist that Amazon Tap is a great bargain for outdoor music.
One thing I liked is the powerful rechargeable battery that gives it a 9 hours playback time. If you find it expensive to listen to music from Amazon Prime, iHeartRadio, and other compatible online platforms, you can as well stream from your Smartphone using Bluetooth. When it comes to sound quality, indeed the Echo is a Smart Home controller while Tap is a portable speaker. Tap has been built with high-quality dual-stereo speakers with Dolby processing that deliver rich and robust sound.
On the downside, I find Tap to be quite hard to operate.
Unlike Echo that is always on, you have to tap Amazon Tap before giving it any prompts. As a portable speaker, I still find its performance wanting considering other portable speakers like JBL Flip 3 and Bose SoundLink Color 2 have better performance and are priced almost the same.
What’s the Catch with Amazon Alexa?
These two devices offer great convenience and that’s why they are so popular nowadays. Everyone wants to be part of Alexa and here’s why;
- You can use them to control Smart Home installations like fans, heaters, security cameras and so on
- Keeps you activated on news events, traffic, and even weather
- Plays music from Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Spotify and other streaming platforms as well as your Smartphone
- Acts as a personal assistant by answering your questions, creating task lists, adding products to your shopping cart and so on
- Connects to 3rd party platforms like Uber, Lyft, MySomm, Dominos, 1-800-Flowers and so on
Even though these are the major things Alexa can do, there are over 50 other tasks it can handle. What I personally liked about this versatile product from Amazon is that there are no access or subscription fees. Once you get an Alexa device; Echo, Tap or Dot, you’re good to go!
Tap vs. Echo: How do they Compare?
By now, it is evident that the Echo and Tap are two different Alexa devices. While the Echo is a great hands-off Smart Home controller, Tap is great for outdoor music enthusiasts even though it can also work as an automation controller. So, what brings this difference? This is what we are going to look at in this segment.
Even though they are all cylindrical, the Echo is much larger than Tap both in height and diameter. For this reason, it is clear that Tap is better when it comes to portability. Besides this, there’s also the Amazon Tap Sling that will cost you an extra $20 for easy portability and protect it while on the go. I feel this is a rip off considering brands like JBL and BOSE give a free carrying case. Worse enough, with this sling, you can’t access the charging port.
These two Alexa devices also have a different power approach. The Echo being stationary, you need to connect it to the mains via a 6-foot cord provided. On the other hand, Tap has a rechargeable battery that can last it for 9 good hours. Here, Tap is the best because even with a power outage, you are still covered.
All these two devices are very easy to operate but offer different approaches. The Echo is fully voice-activated while Tap needs to be tapped before giving it voice prompts. I really love the Echo because it stays on all the time so you only need to tell it what you want anytime. On the other hand, you will have to wake Amazon Tap by tapping it before giving it any prompts. In as much as most people criticized it for this, there’s a reason why it was built that way; it was meant for use outdoors and would be funny if it decoded other prompts unknowingly. The good thing is that there’s a new upgrade that allows it to stay on always so you won’t have to tap it first.
Tap being a portable speaker; it has been built with a more robust sound system for the best music experience. On the other hand, the Echo has a speaker system that focuses more on capturing voice prompts and not delivering the best music experience. The Echo packs a 360-degrees omnidirectional audio system with down-firing speakers. Even though it has a woofer, I didn’t like its bass response. On the other hand, Tap sports a 360-degrees omnidirectional dual-stereo Dolby audio system that delivers the best sound. However, compared to what JBL, BOSE and other portable speaker brands offer, its performance is still wanting.
The Echo and Tap come with different price tags. While the Echo retails at around $179, Taps costs $50 lesser.
Echo vs. Tap: What’s the Best Alexa Device?
If you’d ask me, this is a very ambiguous question because these two devices were meant to serve different purposes. While the Echo is specially designed for Smart Home automation control, Tap is built for music enthusiasts. For this reason, it is hard to say which one is the best Alexa device.
If you want a reliable Smart Home controller, then look no further; the Echo is your best deal. However, for those who want something portable and good music, then Tap will be the best.
In as much as these two devices were designed to serve different purposes, we have to give a verdict on which one is the best by looking at the primary goal of manufacturing them; Smart convenience. In this regard, the Amazon Echo carries the day!