I’m a divorced dad, which is–let’s face it–not exactly an exclusive club. This means, despite shared custody and an amicable arrangement with their mother, I sometimes don’t get to see or talk to my children as often as I’d like. Again, not exactly an uncommon occurrence.
That’s why, when I stumbled across a device at CES 2015 that promised to serve as a simple, kid-friendly, Wi-Fi communication hub, I was delighted. Of course, I saw literally thousands of items at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, and, somewhere along the line, both my memories and my collection of helpful business cards from the event were lost, never to be seen or heard from again.
Thankfully, I got a PR pitch right before the holidays for the device in question, the Invoxia Triby.
The Triby–not to be confused with that hat you keep finding in Fallout–is a portable Bluetooth speaker, a mini e-ink billboard (with a delightful little “new message” flag), and a family VOIP communication hub all in one. All this functionality resides in a diminutive, unobtrusive 6″ x 6″ square held firm to your fridge or other such appliance via a strong magnet.
Setup is quick and easy: just use the companion app to connect the Triby to your home Wi-Fi, create a user group, and add in your family members. A pair of quick-call buttons–shaped like little telephones, naturally–can be assigned to two contacts, and other users (read: your kids) can press the corresponding button to make a call to the appropriate phone number using the Triby’s speaker and mic.
These calls take place through the same app, which can also be used for typed or drawn messages using a “Doodles” function. While the Doodles can only be sent from users’ devices to the Triby itself–with their arrival heralded by the aforementioned flag–calls can be made point-to-point either to the Triby base or between smart devices.
This means my son can send a note about a new Pokémon distribution to the integrated display, my daughter can use her iPod Touch to call my iPhone from the app to tell me about her school day, and I can call into the Triby to tell both my kids goodnight when I’m on the road. In short, it’s a great way to communicate with your loved ones even when you’re not always in the same house.
There are additional features, like the ability to listen to streaming radio or Spotify Premium via the integrated speaker–and its In Vivo Acoustic technology makes for some pretty astounding sound from such a seemingly simple device–but the big draw here is the ability for kids too young to own phones to have an easy, centralized, safe way to contact their caregivers.
My gripes are minimal. The Triby app functions well enough, but I’ve missed incoming calls from the kids a few times because of the low (and seemingly unadjustable) volume of its dedicated ringtone. Also, said app is currently iOS-only, though an Android version is slated for release sometime later this year.
Invoxia touts battery life as “up to one month before needing a recharge,” but, with moderate regular use, I seem to be recharging more like every couple of weeks. This is one reason I’ve elected to keep my loaner Triby stuck to the dishwasher rather than the refrigerator; it means I can plug in the USB charge cable without having to move the speaker.
There are lots of app-based, Wi-Fi communication solutions out there, and, at $200, this device isn’t exactly a spontaneous purchase. Still, there’s an elegant simplicity to Triby that’s really appealed to my family. It feels like a true shared device that makes the sometimes sad notion of talking to those far away seem fun and even enticing. Plus, it’s hard not to love receiving unexpected drawings from your geeklings.
Review materials provided by: Invoxia