We first featured the Fabriq Wireless Speaker last fall as one of our New Toys of the Day. What particularly struck us about this product was its wide range of connectivity. We aren’t just talking Bluetooth here. It is also has AirPlay, multi-room connectivity, and support for Amazon’s popular Alexa Service. And at $50, it has big-time value.

The question is, can its compact design hang with the big boys like JBL and UE?

Design

Fabriq is currently available in three different colors, Earl Grey, Jack Plaid, and Splat. Aside from its handheld form factor, one of the things that first struck me was its bright and bold color scheme. As the name would suggest, the outside is wrapped in a thick cloth material and the speaker comes in at a tiny 3- x 3-inches.

However, I quickly learned that its small stature is loaded with tech. We’ll get to the breadth of connectivity options in a minute. But for me, the standout feature here is Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service. Although it has made its way to more devices in 2016 (and plenty coming in 2017!), it’s largely been limited to the Echo, Tap and Dot speakers. The last of which retails with the same $50 price tag as Fabriq.

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Features

Amazon has steadily improved the abilities and skills of Alexa over the last year. It’s now able to order dinner, tell you the news, turn on your lights and even play Jeopardy! Fabriq is arguably one of the strongest entry points into the world of Alexa with its affordable price tag and loads of features.

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Speaking of which, an AirPlay speaker for $50? As I’ve mentioned, the value play by Fabriq is top-notch. At this price point, you typically see Bluetooth connectivity. But support for Apple’s preferable AirPlay service puts this speaker over the top. The free iOS and Android app allows support multi-room connectivity if you choose to invest in more than one speaker.

Sound

As for the sound. Yes, it’s still a $50 speaker. Although the feature set is stronger than JBL, UE or Bose, you’re still talking about 5W drivers here that just can’t hang in large spaces. Fabriq is perfect for a bathroom or office, but in bigger areas it will struggle to produce booming sound. That’s the trade-off of a smaller footprint.

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Portability is a strength of this speaker. At just three-inches, this is one of the smaller ones that we’ve seen that is actually worth writing about. Between the handheld design and five hours of battery life, Fabriq is a great buy for your backpack or purse. It’s not going to take up much room and can still crank the tunes when you’re on-the-go.

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Conclusion

To sum it up, for me, Fabriq is a better overall buy than Echo Dot. And that’s saying a lot. We’re on record as loving Amazon’s smallest Alexa-enabled device but the wide range of features here wins out. AirPlay connectivity for $50 is just about unheard of, let alone all of the other ways to connect. Add-in the ever-expanding capabilities of Alexa and Fabriq is a winner.

Fabriq is available for purchase today at Amazon with a $49.99 price tag.

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