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Smart Home

Get an Amazon Tap portable smart speaker for $79.99

It requires an internet connection if you're planning to leave the house, but it's still a great deal. Plus: a keyboard that's also designed for leaving the house.

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!


Rick Broida

Happy Monday, cheeps! Before we dive in, a question and a plug...

First, rate your overall interest in dash-cams. Mine is zero, which is why I've almost never shared any dash-cam deals here. I honestly just don't see the point outside of a few niche uses. But, hey, if you want dash-cam deals, I'll get 'em. (And, in fact, I'll run a poll on Twitter this morning where you can cast a vote.)

Second, as you may know, I spent nearly three years running an escape-room business. A few days ago I published a mini memoir about the experience. It's free to read if you're an Amazon Prime Kindle Unlimited subscriber, otherwise a mere $2.99. If you enjoy the work I do here, you might enjoy this as well. And, hey, if you want to tell a few thousand of your closest friends about it, I wouldn't object!

On to business...

Alexa, let's go to the park

Get Alexa "to go" for $80.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The Amazon Echo: Decent speaker, needs an outlet.

The Amazon Echo Dot: Crummy speaker, needs an outlet.

The Amazon Tap: Decent speaker, goes anywhere!

Not long ago I compared the Tap to Jan Brady -- the often-overlooked "middle child" in the Echo family. (In fact, it doesn't even share the Echo name; it's just "Tap.")

Now I feel more like it's the Rodney Dangerfield of Amazon's smart-speaker lineup: It don't get no respect!

But it should, especially at this price: Today only (but probably not for the last time), you can get the Amazon Tap for $79.99 shipped. Regular price: $129.99.

Why is there so little love for this little speaker? When it was first introduced, Tap's big shortcoming was that you had to, well, tap it to invoke Alexa; it wasn't a truly hands-free device. But thanks to an update Amazon rolled out in February, the Tap can now work just like the Echo and Echo Dot.

What remains, then, is a portable, voice-activated speaker that can do everything an Echo can do, and sounds, well, pretty good. I definitely recommend reading CNET's Tap review, which found its audio quality to be solid, though not exemplary.

It's important to understand, too, that unless it's connected to the internet (via your home network or your phone's mobile hotspot or whatever), Alexa won't work; it'll merely function as a Bluetooth speaker. I suspect a lot of buyers don't understand this, then get miffed. Indeed, if you look at many of the lower user ratings, you'll see some misconceptions about the device. 

Anyway, this is nearly as good as the full-size Echo, and has the added benefit of portability, but for today it's priced $100 less.

cafago-bluetooth-keyboard
Cafago

Your thoughts?

Bonus deal: Looking for a Bluetooth keyboard to use with your phone or tablet? They come in all shapes and sizes, but I'm partial to anything that gives you a full-size set of keys and a place to stand your device.

Like this one: For a limited time, Cafago (a Tomtop subsidiary) has this unbranded Bluetooth keyboard for mobile devices for $23 shipped. That's after applying promotion code STPA40 at checkout.

Able to pair with two different devices (a switch makes it simple to toggle between them), the keyboard very closely resembles models I've seen from well-known companies. Take note, however, that it'll be shipping from China, and therefore could take one to three weeks to arrive.