Here's another way to bring the power and convenience of virtual assistant Amazon Alexa into your home: the FABRIQ wireless speaker. This budget-friendly portable speaker runs $49.99, putting it at the same price point as Amazon's miniature Alexa device, the Echo Dot. The two devices look similar on paper. They're both small, circular speakers just over three inches in diameter that use Wi-Fi to let Alexa answer questions, control your smart home devices and even order pizza for you.
FABRIQ is a bit more focused on speaker features than the Echo Dot. Its slightly larger size gives it more sound power than the Dot, and it can reach volumes up to 92dBA with 5 watts of power, a 2-inch driver and a 2-inch passive radiator. The Dot, in comparison, touts its ability to connect to external speakers for audio playback. The larger Amazon Echo and Tap do better than the FABRIQ for sound—the Echo uses a 2.5-inch woofer and a 2-inch tweeter and the Tap uses dual 1.5-inch drivers and dual passive radiators—but that bigger sound comes with a bigger price. The Taps costs $129 and the Echo $179.
While both Echos need to be plugged in, but the FABRIQ can be used wirelessly with a battery life of about five hours (the Tap gets 9 hours of battery life). That makes the FABRIQ easy to carry from room to room at home. You can connect multiple FABRIQ speakers for surround sound. If you're on the go, carry your FABRIQ with you and pair it with your mobile device for listening.
While $50 puts this device on the high end for a portable Bluetooth speaker, FABRIQ's stand-out feature is definitely Alexa and its slew of super-convenient voice control features. Ask Alexa what your commute time will be or what's showing at the nearest movie theater, and tell her to play your favorite Spotify playlist, look up appointments on your calendar, control your smart thermostat or (of course!) buy things from Amazon. If you've used Apple's Siri or Google Now, using Alexa will feel familiar, just better integrated with Amazon features. If you use Amazon a lot, you'll appreciate that Alexa can play Amazon Music and read your Kindle books, too.
FABRIQ comes in three styles, tones of gray with a linear pattern, a red and black plaid and a blue and yellow paint splatter. Though it's not the most portable speaker we've seen, at 3.15 inches square (well, cylindrical in this case) and weighing just 10.6 ounces, it's easily held in a single hand and certainly not too bulky to carry around. You can control one or more networked FABRIQ speakers through an app that's available for both iPhone and Android devices.
FABRIQ is available for preorder on Amazon now and will begin shipping Oct. 30. If you're in the market for an Alexa-enabled device and a portable speaker, this fills both roles for a modest $49.99.
Updated on 10/20/2016 with information on Amazon Tap
[Image credits: Suzanne Kantra/Techlicious, FABRIQ Technologies]