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Triby review: Alexa transforms a silly gadget into a family-oriented digital assistant

Theo Nicolakis | May 3, 2016
The Triby outperformed any other speakerphone I’ve had in my kitchen. Its speaker function was smooth and clean: People on the other end of a Triby VoIP call could hear me clearly, and their voices consistently sounded intelligible.

I’ve been living with Invoxia’s Triby kitchen gadget ($199 MSRP, available at Amazon) since December 2015. Essentially a niche-market Bluetooth speaker with some kiddie appeal, I just didn’t find it to be all that compelling. But now that it’s become the first third-party device to include Amazon’s Alexa digital voice assistant, it’s gone from dust-collector to prima donna status. I’m not exaggerating.

A modern spin on the kitchen radio

My early impression of the Triby was that it was a modern interpretation of the transistor radio that graced many kitchen countertops in the last century. Maybe it was the look? Maybe it was because the Tirby’s features assume you’re placing it in your home’s central thoroughfare? Whatever the case, the Triby is a far cry from that tinny, mono-speaker experience.

The Triby is a modern spin on the kitchen radio 
The Triby is a modern spin on the kitchen radio. Credit: Theo Nicolakis

The Triby has two custom-made 35mm transducers that sit on either side of a 63x52mm passive radiator used for bass amplification. There’s a four-microphone array and a Bluetooth radio onboard too, enabling the Triby to respond to voice commands and perform as a VoIP speakerphone. Invoxia says that the Triby’s mics eliminate background noise, enabling it to pick up your voice from as far as 15 feet, and my experience confirms that claim.

The Triby outperformed any other speakerphone I’ve had in my kitchen. Its speaker function was smooth and clean: People on the other end of a Triby VoIP call could hear me clearly, and their voices consistently sounded intelligible. And when it came to voice commands, a 12- to 15-foot distance (15 feet was pushing it) was doable so long as I was willing to speak loudly.

The Triby features what Invoxia calls In Vivo Acoustic technology. Vivo Acoustic, in a nutshell, is the combination of a driver array and 3D algorithms that address a loudspeaker’s directivity—the manner in which it radiates sound into a room. As I was playing music or talking to people with VoIP calls, I detected little distortion or coloration even when listening nearly 90 degrees off axis.

Connecting the Triby to my Wi-Fi network or via Bluetooth was simple and pain-free. 
Connecting the Triby to my Wi-Fi network or via Bluetooth was simple and pain-free. Credit: Theo Nicolakis 

This isn’t a high-end speaker by any stretch. It has a good timbre, but with something of a lower-midrange bump to deliver the sensation of deep bass—a trick that tends to add a bit of bloat. The top end, unsurprisingly, isn’t crisp. Nevertheless, the rest of the audible range is satisfactory, albeit with a hint of boxiness.

 

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