By Gregg Ellman
The latest Alexa voice-assistant gadget to make my morning coffee is the Fabriq portable Wifi Bluetooth speaker. Before the speaker was turned on I was impressed with the size, 3.15-by-3.15-by-3.15-inches, 10.6 ounces and style, portable enough to toss in a backpack and even fit in some cargo pants pockets.
If you’re not familiar with Alexa, she is a personal assistant who can do a growing number of smart home control commands. Just press a button on the Fabriq and the assistant performs your command. It’s really that easy.
It also works as a standalone device without an Amazon Dot or Echo.
Voice assistant features pop up daily, so if ordering a pizza, adjusting the thermostat or turning on your surround system with a voice command aren’t enough, wait until tomorrow.
Oh, I do have to add that this is a nice sounding speaker (5w) with the great clarity and sound you want. And if you are shopping for a simple, small portable speaker, this would make a great choice.
A few other features of the Fabriq include a 5-hour build-in rechargeable battery, cool exterior fabric finishes, and the ability to connect multiple speakers for a multi-room system with each having Alexa controls.
What got my attention when reading about the new Starbrick Be4 earbuds was that they are made with Beryllium, which the company states is the fourth lightest metal element and four times stronger than steel.
There was also something I hadn’t heard of: they are the newest type of Beryllium earphones and as far as my memory can stretch, I don’t recall hearing about a Beryllium product, known as Be4 on periodic table.
Beryllium in the earbuds lowers the distortion at the highest volume without sacrificing the lows, mids, and highs.
So after these tidbits got logged into my brain, I just had to give them a try. Of course, facts like these can impress me all they want but it’s the sound that counts and that impressed as much as the technology.
I used the earbuds in three totally different environments; while biking, watching a movie on my iPad at 36,000 feet and poolside. I came away from all three equally impressed with the sound quality. Obviously I had background noise on the plane, so I just cranked up the volume to compensate. The clarity was consist and sound equally smooth at any level. This was the same while on the streets or poolside.
Starbrick stated, “The earphones’ dynamic driver with Beryllium diaphragm have a wide frequency response and provide a unique soundstage atmosphere.” I’m sure I can attribute my listening success at the variety of locations, volumes and music types to this.
Other features include an in-line mic control for handsfree calls, volume and music selections, a 3.5 mm gold stereo mini jack and choices of black, rose gold and silver. Each Be4 headset is individually handcrafted and subjected to stringent testing to ensure the optimum product every time.
http://starbrickinc.com $179, available in August
When you have a simple product like the TwelveSouth BookArc, which is designed with an Applye-esque space gray finish to match their high fashion products and it works like a champ — you have a big winner.
The hardware is a vertical stand that turns a MacBook laptop into a desktop computer, assuming you have a monitor, mouse and keyboard.
Once the laptop is in the stand’s silicone slot, everything easily plugs in and you have a fully function desktop system. Plus, it takes up a lot less space vs a desktop computer. The bottom has a cable-catch design, so everything stays clean and organized.
Assuming you have this setup at work, when the day is done, just unplug everything, take the laptop home and you’re off with everything you might need.
According to Twelve South, “BookArc will work with most MacBook models – from the ultra light 12-inch to the new MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C).”