A couple months back I was looking for a nice Bluetooth speaker for my office. Specifically, something that was better sound than my Macbook speakers and better than the built-in speakers on the TV mounted on the wall.
I wanted it to be small, have good sound, and connect to anything. After some digging around I went with the Amazon Tap and have been pretty pleased.
What is it?
Here’s the official description:
- Just tap and ask for music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn
- Uses the Alexa Voice Service when connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot to play music, read the news, provide weather reports, and even order a pizza
- Streams all your music via Bluetooth from your phone or tablet
- Delivers crisp sound powered by Dolby, with dual stereo speakers that provide 360º omni-directional audio
- Provides up to 9 hours of playback
- Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills
- Includes Charging Cradle
It’s a portable Bluetooth speaker made by Amazon with some built-in Amazon features.
You might be familiar with Tap’s big brother, Amazon Echo. Echo didn’t meet my needs for my office for a couple of reasons. First, I just needed a speaker and not a personal assistant. Second, I’m not 100% sold that I want an internet-connected device listening to and recording everything it hears. Edward Snowden would tell you that’s a bad idea.
What I like about Tap is it’s simplicity.
- I like that it’s got a crazy long battery life… it’s listed at 8-9 hours but I regularly use it 12-14 hours between charging.
- I like that it’s portable. I can use it in my office all day. But I can (and do) pick it up and take it with me. So when I’m out working in the yard I can still listen to music or a podcast or whatever I want. It switches pretty seamlessly from being connected to home wifi and my phone’s Bluetooth. So I’m looking forward to taking Tap on vacation or the beach or anything like that.
- I like that it’s connected to all things Amazon. I ditched iTunes Radio when they went to a subscription service for Amazon Music, which is part of the Amazon Prime membership. I stream music all day, every day. Plus, I can add something to my Prime Now shopping list or ask when my next Amazon order will arrive.
- I’m learning to like Alexa. I’ve been kind of slow to find a real function to Alexa (or Apple’s Siri for that matter). But I’ve been learning to use her to set timers and add things to my calendar or any other number of small tasks. I know I can connect Alexa to all sorts of home automation things, too. So I look forward to telling Alexa to turn off the lights in my office and set the AC to 75 degrees.
Things I Don’t Like
There are a couple of things that kind of annoy me about Tap. First, it’s really hard to turn it off manually. I know I can press the button and say, “turn the power off” and it’ll power down. But I don’t think the actual power button on the back turns the thing off… just on. Second, Alexa can sometimes fail to deliver what you want on Amazon Music. She seems to be infatuated with recommending a couple of stations I don’t particularly like. Since I use Tap for background noise while I work (like right now as I’m writing this) I like to ask Alexa to “just play some music.” Instead of playing Amazon Music stations I listen to all the time, say the U2 channel, she’ll start playing some random alternative music channel. And if I tell her “I don’t like that channel, play something else” she gets confused and says “I don’t know what you want, Adam.” That’s a little too angsty and existential for me. Just play something else!
The Money Line
Is this worth $129? On the face of it, as a Bluetooth speaker alone, a better value would be found in the Bose or JBL portable Bluetooth speakers. Though I didn’t do a side-by-side comparison my assumption is that both would have a higher quality sound experience. So just as a Bluetooth speaker I don’t think it’s a great value… should be more like $70.
But when you add in the other stuff that it does… that it can connect to your home wifi to play music independent of another device, plus have all the benefits of Amazon Alexa, plus still be used as a Bluetooth speaker? I think it might creep into that category of being a good deal. Though, in all honesty, $99 would be a better price point.
Overall I’m pleased with it. I use it all the time.