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Amazon Tap ReviewPrice: $130 List | $79.99 at Amazon
Pros: Good sound quality, includes Alexa voice service
Cons: Lacks some bass, Alexa can complicate simple music listening
Bottom line: Great if you want an Alexa enabled device first, and like that you get a decent portable Bluetooth speaker as a bonus
The Amazon Tap takes all the capabilities of Amazon's virtual helper, Alexa, and packs it (or is it him? her?) into the body of a portable Bluetooth speaker. As a speaker it performs fairly well. It performed at or slightly above average in all of our testing metrics. However, in the same price range there are speakers that sound better (the Bose SoundLink Color II) and are more portable (the UE Roll 2), so the Tap's real selling point is its integration with Alexa.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Amazon Tap is fairly capable as a bluetooth speaker but, viewing it through only that lens, it wouldn't be our first recommendation to anybody. If you're already looking for an Alexa capable device and would like one with a bit more versatility, then the Tap may be just the ticket.
A Note About Alexa
We tested the Tap side-by-side with other Bluetooth speakers as a Bluetooth Speaker, not as a voice activated smart device. Therefore our scores represent its ability as a portable speaker and nothing else. However, the Tap's Alexa capabilities are a clear draw for this product, so we'll share our thoughts on it.
Should I Buy the Tap Because of Alexa?
The answer to this question depends on which direction you're coming from. If you want to get an Alexa device anyway and like that the Tap doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, then by all means get the Tap. It both performs relatively well as a portable speaker and has all of the capabilities of the Echo. Just remember that Alexa only works when you have a wifi connection, so don't be expecting Alexa to be following you wherever you go.
If want you really want is a Bluetooth speaker but think having an Alexa capable device might be fun, we would suggest steering clear. Alexa is fun (office Jeopardy became a daily occurrence while testing the Tap) but it adds an awful lot of complexity to the device. This can feel like a hinderance when all you really want to do is play some music. There are also speakers in the same price range that sound better (Bose SoundLink Color II), are more durable (UE Boom 2), and are more portable (UE Roll 2) than the Tap.
The Amazon tap occupied the middle ground in our spread of overall scores (shown in blue in the graph below).
Below we further expound upon its performance in each of our individual tests.
The Tap performed relatively well in our sound quality testing, picking up a score of 7 out of 10. This put it towards the middle of a metric that saw scores ranging from 3 to 10. The Tap has quite good clarity. Even in complex melodies where some speakers muddle notes together, the Tap kept most of them sounding crisp and well defined. Its biggest weak point was its bass. Its bass was much deeper and more powerful than the budget speakers we tested, but couldn't match the resonance of the higher scoring speakers, making its music sound somewhat thin in comparison. This weakness probably isn't glaringly obvious when listening to the Tap in isolation, but is clear in a side-by-side comparison.
The Tap's results were about average in our portability testing. It scored a 6 out of 10 in a metric where scores ranged from 2 to 10. We weighed the Tap at 16.6 ounces, which put it towards the lighter end of the spectrum. It is of a relatively small size and its cylindrical shape is fairly packable. It mostly lost points due to the mesh covering on the speaker, which didn't feel too durable to our testers. If we were to take it out and about we would invest in a Tap Sling to keep things more secure. However, the sling can be a bit of a pain as you have to remove it to return the Tap to its charging base (though you can still charge via the mini USB port with the sling on). The Tap also has no water resistance rating.
The Tap was again average in our volume testing, picking up a score of 6 out of 10 in a metric with scores ranging from 4 to 9. The speaker struggles with higher volumes, with static and a tinny quality taking over the music when you turn it up very loud. At volumes where sound quality wasn't degraded the Tap was plenty loud enough for a group of friends hanging out, but struggled to cut through ambient noise and didn't quite fill our testing apartment with sound.
The Tap lasted 8.5 hours in our battery life testing, just short of the manufacturer's claim of a 9 hour battery life. This was a bit below average, but is probably still plenty for all but the most demanding users. This performance earned the Tap a score of 5 out of 10.
The Amazon Tap lists for $130. As we've mentioned before there are a number of more capable Bluetooth speakers available in this price range, making the Tap a poor value when viewed in isolation as a Bluetooth Speaker. However, if you're going to get an Alexa device anyway, the Tap is an inexpensive way to essentially get a portable Bluetooth speaker as well.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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