Editors’ Observe: This overview has been up to date to replicate adjustments to the Amazon Faucet since we reviewed it in April 2016. We have raised its rating from three.5 to four stars.
The $129.99 Amazon Faucet is a conveyable Bluetooth speaker with Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa. Mainly a battery-powered model of the bigger Echo or the smaller Echo Dot, the Faucet will be spoken to to be able to set alarms and timers, hearken to the information, site visitors, and climate, order objects from Amazon, and hyperlink up with good dwelling gadgets like Philips Hue lights. You initially needed to press a button on the speaker to activate Alexa (therefore the Faucet title), however it has since been up to date in order that the voice assistant works fully hands-free, similar to the Echo and Echo Dot, making the Faucet a compelling various. That stated, whereas audio high quality is healthier than with the Echo Dot, you will get higher efficiency for the worth with a devoted Bluetooth speaker.
Design and Options
The Faucet is an all-black cylinder that measures 6.2 by 2.6 inches (HW) and weighs 16.6 ounces. It is smaller than the unique Echo (9.three by three.three inches), and simply moveable. It’s also possible to wrap it inside an optionally available $20 rubber Tap Sling sleeve with a strap that you can then attach to a backpack. Out of the box, the Tap comes with a 0.6-by-2.6-inch (HW) charging plate and a micro USB cable.
Like the Echo and the Echo Dot, the Tap has a gray Amazon logo on the front near the bottom. There’s a micro USB power port, a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi button, a 3.5mm audio input, and a power button (which doubles as an LED indicator) on the back. On top, you’ll find a rubbery panel with play/pause, volume, and track navigation buttons, along with a row of five LEDs on the front edge. Below the LEDs—which glow blue when using Alexa or orange when in pairing mode—you’ll see the Tap’s namesake, a Microphone button you can tap to manually use voice control. It’s a simple, utilitarian design that looks more like a rugged Bluetooth speaker than the simple cylinder of the Echo or the clean white air freshener appearance of Google Home.
It doesn’t have a display, which is a feature you’ll only find on the Echo Show. The Show’s 7-inch touch screen and 5-megapixel camera allow for video chatting, among other multimedia capabilities like watching movies. The Tap—like the Echo and Echo Dot—is strictly for audio.
The Tap is powered by a rechargeable battery, which Amazon estimates will last for nine hours of playback or three weeks in standby mode.
Setup and App
Setting up the Tap is simple. Plug it in and download the free Amazon Alexa app on your Android or iOS device while the speaker charges. The app will guide you through the the setup process. We paired the Tap with a Samsung Galaxy S6 and setup only took a minute or two.
The app is the same as the one used for the Echo devices. The home screen collects all of your recent commands and questions in a timeline, and a tab in the upper left corner slides out to display options, including your Amazon Prime Music account, connecting to services like Pandora and Spotify, and accessing third-party voice-based apps and smart home integration. For a full breakdown of the app’s abilities, refer to our review of the Amazon Echo.
The Tap has the same Alexa capabilities as Amazon’s Echo devices. Similar to other voice assistants like Google Assistant and Siri, you can ask Alexa to locate nearby restaurants and services, set alarms and timers, play music, report the news, or order products from Amazon. Alexa can also connect with smart home products like the Nest Thermostat or Philips Hue light bulbs to control home automation tasks like adjusting the temperature or dimming the lights via voice.
An update in February 2017 introduced full hands-free functionality, so you no longer have to press the microphone button to use Alexa. This makes the voice assistant much easier to work with. Previously, you needed to press the button for every command that wasn’t a direct response to a prompt. Now you can say “Alexa, play music” or “Alexa, what’s the weather?” and the speaker will answer without your needing to tap it first.
Although the Tap connects to your audio device via Bluetooth, it also needs to be connected to Wi-Fi in order to use Alexa. That means you won’t be able to use Alexa on the road unless you’re connected to public Wi-Fi or using a hotspot.
From left to right: Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, Amazon Echo Dot
Don’t forget, the Tap is also a Bluetooth speaker. As far as audio quality goes, it sounds better than the tiny, tinny Echo Dot, but not as rich as the larger Echo or Echo Show. It also falls a bit short of Google Home, which has a richer sound, particularly when it comes to sub-bass. Google Home also supports multi-room playback, which the Amazon speakers don’t.
Listening to The Knife’s bass-heavy “Silent Shout” on the Tap, the low end is more apparent than on the Echo Dot, and there’s still some semblance of thump in less-intense tracks like Lana del Rey’s “Cruel World” and Daft Punk’s “Beyond.” That said, you’ll encounter some distortion if you push the volume to max.
You’ll get far better sound quality from a dedicated Bluetooth speaker like the Bose SoundLink Color or the Ultimate Ears UE Boom 2, both of which offer fuller, richer, distortion-free sound.
Comparisons and Conclusions
Google Home is available for the same price as the Tap, but it’s not portable. And while we like Google Assistant, it doesn’t have nearly the same level of third-party support and functionality as Alexa does.
Thanks to the addition of hands-free voice activation, the Amazon Tap is a very appealing alternative to the Echo, and its battery means you can use it anywhere instead of only plugged in, which no other Echo device can do. The Echo and Echo Show offer superior sound quality for a higher price, while the Echo Dot is much less expensive and can be plugged into the speaker of your choice. While the Tap doesn’t earn our Editors’ Choice, it’s a solid alternative if you value portability above all else.