As technology advances and Amazon’s empires evolves, here we have one of the first third-party companies to release Amazon’s virtual assistant into its Bluetooth speaker. Which is also cute and comes in a multitude of hipster-ish flavors. At $49.99 it promises more than the Amazon Echo Dot, which is priced the same. We shall see about that.
First about FABRIQ:
The take pride in stating that years of experience in the home audio industry went into the design and development of the FABRIQ speaker. Working very closely with their supply chain has enabled them to deliver an incredible smart speaker, at an even smarter price.
Price when reviewed: $ 49.99 via Amazon.com
This is the one we are testing today – The Earl Grey
And then depending on your taste here are a couple more:
*Courtesy of their website.
So, right of the bat it is more powerful than the Amazon Dot, at 5W and has a bigger battery life rated at 5 hours of playback.
Then it has another trick up its sleeve which personally I find very cool and handy, it can be synchronized up to 10 speakers ! Now that surround sound.
Of course, it has the aforementioned Amazon Alexa technology which is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon, made popular by the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot devices developed by Amazon Lab126. It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, and other real time information, such as news.
Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system. Most devices with Alexa allow users to activate the device using a wake-word; other devices require the user to push a button to activate Alexa’s listening mode, like our FABRIQ speaker today.
Currently, interaction and communication with Alexa is only available in English and German.
Now let’s get more technical and dwell into the specs:
– Maximum Sound Level: 92dBA
– Frequency Range: 60Hz – 18kHz
– Driver(s): A 2” Precision active driver and a 2” passive radiator combined with 5W of power fill your room with rich sound.
– Support: Both stereo and mono playback
PORTABLE SIZE:3.15” x 3.15” x 3.15” (80 x 80 x 80mm)
WEIGHT: 10.6oz (300g)
BATTERY LIFE: Up to 5 hours, 3.7V @ 1400mAh Capacity
WIFI CONNECTIVITY: 802.11b/g/n – 2.4 GHz
BLUETOOTH CONNECTIVITY: v2.1 + EDR
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Compatible with iOS & Android
WARRANTY & SERVICE: 1 Year Limited Warranty
Packaging, content & visual inspection
Comes in a cylindrical enclosure with a visual depiction of the actual product and all the main specs and features highlighted throughout the whole circumference of the box.
My “banana for scale” perspective given by an energy drink can.
Ok. Remove the duct tape and this is what you get inside:
* 1x FABRIQ Speaker
* 1x MicroUSB charging cable
* 1x Instruction Manual
* 1x Reset key
Our sample is the Earl Grey variant. The outside texture has a rough carpet-like, yet pleasant fell to it. Thus you can put it in your packpack and it will survive no doubt.
From this angle we also have the logo in matching colors and just where the fabric ends, there is a multi-color LED light ring for various notifications and music playback.
The bottom is rubberized for maximum grip. Here also the power ON/OFF button resides.
Opposite the logo, on the other side, we have the control panel. From top to bottom we have:
* Alexa/microphone button
* Volume up
* Volume down
Then underneath this rubberized flap we have even more functionality (top to bottom):
* Master reset switch – using the supplied key
* Paring button – WiFi & Bluetooth
* Light settings
* Charging LED
* MicroUSB port for charging
This thing is really small, not much bigger than let’s say an orange.
Testing and Impressions
Setting everything up:
Press for 3 seconds to turn on the FABRIQ speaker. The light ring will pulse in white.
Then head over to the app store (Android in our case) to get the FABRIQ one.
The app is really easy to set up by following the given steps. After connecting it to your WiFi, (the light ring is in blue before connecting) then you have full control over it via your smartphone.
By the way, only by WiFi the Alexa service will work. One drawback I have found that Alexa on the FABRIQ can’t play music over third-party sources such as a Spotify. Alexa can of course play directly from Amazon Music, but you need a full subscription and the library is limited. Compared to the Echo or Echo Dot, Alexa will happily play from any linked Spotify account.
Another main difference versus the Amazon Echo Dot is that with the FABRIQ you need to push the button first (no voice activation either), while the latter is always on. This can be depending on you, an advantage or a minus.
By Bluetooth, for music playback for example, the connection is really strong and reliable even up to 15 meters.
After I fully charged the speaker, I left it with the light ring off and manged to get a little over 5 hours of pure music playback. With the light effects on, the battery will drain faster. I got one hour less for the same test.
What else. It’s 2017 so lights everywhere. The light ring is fun and will sync with your music playback and pulse when inactive. Can’t fully close the light effects though and it will flash every minute or so to let you know that it is still on.
And the best for last. The sound quality coming such a small speaker is surprisingly awsome !
It is clear, has decent bass, it’s loud with no distortion and it sounds just amazing ! Have a look for yourselves. (Recorded via a Blue Yeti microphone at just 10 cm away, withthe sound set at 90% of maximum). Enjoy !
And this one is with my Sony DSC-WX50 at 30 cm away which can record stereo.
If you are in the market for an Alexa compatible wireless portable speaker at a good price, than the FABRIQ one is a solid choice. It brings its own nice and cool tricks to the table, with a very fashion statement-like appeal. Strong points for build and sound quality, battery life, bling and compactness with some minor bits regarding the software and playback. The ability to sync with multiple identical devices and the idea of an all-rounder dedvice, makes the FABRIQ a must have !
+ Very good audio quality playback and output
+ Push to talk (not always on like the competition)
+ Can be paired up to 10 other speakers for maximum surround effect
+ Great design and multitude of color and pattern options
+ Full Android and Apple (Airplay) compatibility
+ Great performance/quality/features to price ratio
+ Covered plugs to keep dust out
+ Great construction and overall build
+ Rubberized bottom for a better grip and stability on surfaces
– No waterproofing or ruggedness – but this is more for in home use given the stylish design
– No hands-free voice control
– No option to fully turn off the light ring – may be annoying to some
– No Alexa playback from third-party sources
Glob3trotters “Must have” Award – 4.5 out of 5