Review: FABRIQ – An Amazon Alexa Enabled Speaker
Amazon’s Alexa voice control assistant is undeniably amazing, but the initially limited availability and high price of the flagship Echo device kept it out of the hands of a lot of people. It’s been over a year since Amazon offered up its voice-activated virtual assistant “Alexa” to third-party developers.
Enter Fabriq, the maker of a new, small-sized smart speaker with Alexa functionality built right in. At just $50, it’s the same price as the Amazon Dot, but comes with a few additional features. For starters, it’s a more powerful, and features a built-in battery too, providing a few hours of truly wirless playback. You can also sync multiple speakers together over Wi-Fi for simultaneous playback.
The speaker is relatively compact, measuring 8 centimeters tall, long, and deep, with a unique fabric covering giving it a softer, cuter appearance. Despite the small size, the speaker offers a claimed frequency range of 60Hz to 18kHz, powered by a built-in 5-watt amplifier. Battery life is claimed at up to five hours of playback time. Though in practical usage, the speaker merely lasted 3.5 hours on a single charge at full volume.
A large rubber flap on one side covers the ports and other controls. The flap itself contains four buttons: mic, volume up, play/pause, and volume down. Pulling the flap back exposes the microUSB charging port and two programming buttons. The top button is only needed when initially pairing the Fabriq to your phone, while the bottom button turns on/off the optional light show that accompanies your music.
Setting it up is easy. Download the Fabriq app for iOS or Android, press a button on the device, and go through a few steps in the app. It took all of two minutes. Bluetooth pairing is the same as any other Bluetooth speaker, you’ll just have to tap the connectivity button to switch from Wi-Fi to Bluetooth mode.
We tested out the product in India, where Alexa is unfortunately still not available. We weren’t able to test out the niche Alexa features first hand, though an acquaintance in the States did, and he was pretty impressed.
The Fabriq requires you to press a button to activate Alexa. A quick press of the mic key pauses whatever the Fabriq is doing and puts it into listening mode. Speak your request, and the Fabriq responds instantly. From there, it works exactly like an Echo or Echo Dot. The only limitation is your network. Alexa won’t work out in the world when it’s just you and your phone; the speaker as well as your phone need to be on the same WiFi network.
Here are a few things that the Fabriq can do:
- Streaming music on demand from Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora or Amazon Music Unlimited
- Playing podcasts from iHeartRadio and TuneIn
- Reading off news, sports, weather and traffic updates
- Looking up facts and calculating figures
- Setting timers and recurring alarms
In addition, third party programs like ordering an Uber or a Pizza are also supported.
Even if you’re not into Alexa, the speaker itself is very good. It has a solid amount of mid-bass, treble is clear with crystal clear vocals.
Fabriq doesn’t show up in the Alexa app as a supported device, which means I wasn’t able to use that app to tweak any of the speaker’s Alexa-specific settings. For the price tag of $50, we would highly recommend this speaker over the Dot. As a Alexa beginner, it’s impressive. Even if we ignore Alexa, the design is above average and feels solid while the sound output is least disappointing.