UNBOXED: Reviewing Triby, the Alexa-Enabled Speaker by Invoxia

The good. Amazon Alexa-enabled; great sound quality; convenient family messaging hub

The bad. Not-so-great battery life; Alexa has a temper; spotty Bluetooth connection

The bottom line. 3/5

Meet Triby, the first-ever portable speaker to come with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant baked into it. Actually, Triby has the honor of being the first non-Amazon-made device to come with Alexa—a pretty cool honor for Invoxia. And really, when you get down to it, Alexa is the star of the show here.

Triby, in and of itself, is a Bluetooth speaker that has some unique, family-friendly communications features—like the e-ink message board and yellow notification flag. But beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot to boast about. Sure, you could sync up Spotify, get access to a whole host of local and national radio channels, and even make phone calls to a select number of contacts. But those things could already be done from the palm of your hand and without having to drop some dough on an extra piece of equipment.

But then you throw Alexa into the mix, and Triby becomes a whole new product. The virtual voice assistant still has her kinks—she’s a not-so-good listener and takes some getting used to—but so does Siri, and Cortana, and every other voice assistant out there at the moment.

So what does Alexa bring to the table?

Well, if you’ve gone all in with an Amazon Prime/Music account, you can simply ask her to play your favorite tune/artist/genre/etc.; she gives you personalized headlines; you can ask her to look something up in the myriad pages on Wikipedia; you can set alarms and timers; add something to your shopping list; request an Uber; control your smart home devices; and so on.

There is a catch, though. Having Alexa enabled impacts how truly portable Triby can be. I found that, with average use, battery warnings would start popping up in less than 24 hours. And sure, that might seem like a long time for a portable speaker (just charge it overnight, you might say), but this is a product that’s being pushed as something you can hang on your fridge and rely on at any given moment. It’s slightly annoying to have to remember to charge one more device overnight, and then have to remember to hang it back up in that central location. If you have the counter space and the outlets to spare, users might be better off leaving Triby plugged in and out on the counter or on a side or coffee table—akin to how the Amazon Echo would be displayed.

As for sound quality, Invoxia has been pushing their Vivo Acoustic technology, which it says delivers “state-of-the-art sound processing.” Triby has two built in speakers and a passive radiator that are managed by 3D algorithms that Invoxia says creates “immersive soundscapes” with high-quality bass and treble. I’ll attest to all of that. Triby, at just half volume, produces better sound than some of the Bluetooth speakers I’ve put through the ringer.

We also have to touch on the app, briefly. If family-friendly is what Invoxia is going for, they’ve hit the nail on the head. There aren’t too-many functions in the app—you can set favorite stations, assign the call buttons, browse radio stations, and more—but it’s just enough to get the product to do what you want it to do in a clean, intuitive, fun-looking way.

Overall, Triby is a unique, well-built product that serves, essentially, as a beefed-up Amazon Echo. Alexa is what really helps the Triby earn its rating, and the sound quality can’t be overlooked either.