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Featured Review: Zettaly Avy, The Android Powered Speaker

September 8, 2015 - Written By John Anon

Back at CES in January, Zettaly, announced the launch of the Zettaly Avy which was described as an “Internet-connected smart speaker powered by Android“. So in short, a smart speaker. However, the Zettaly Avy is much more than your typical run-of-the-mill smart speaker as it also comes sporting a 7-inch display built-in. The Zettaly Avy opened for pre-orders back in February and began a more commercial availability in May. Now you can pick up the Zettaly Avy from the likes of Amazon and other retailers for roughly $169.99. Here is a quick look at what you can expect from an internet-connect smart speaker powered by Android.

Specs

The Zettaly Avy comes with a 7-inch TFT display with a 1024 x 600 resolution. Inside, the Zettaly Avy comes equipped with 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage and powered by a quad-core processor (clocking at 1.3 GHz). The Zettaly Avy supports both Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and comes running on Android 4.4 (KitKat). Additional features on offer include a microSD card slot, 14.8Wh 2,000 mAh rechargeable battery, a HDMI port, a VGA front facing camera and twin 5W stereo speakers.

Design & Hardware

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The Zettaly Avy is uniquely designed in many respects. This is a smart speaker, however, thanks to the inclusion of the 7-inch display, this could quite easily be thought of as a tablet. Therefore, trying to pigeon hole Avy is a difficult task. It performs like a tablet but looks like a speaker and bridges the gap between the two rather well. If you were in the market for a tablet but always found the selection lacking, then this is the solution. Likewise, if you are looking for a speaker but don’t always want to connect your smartphone, then this is the solution.

In terms of the overall design, the first thing you will notice when picking up Avy is how light it is. In truth, the reason for the very lightweight nature is due to this largely being a plastic device. The entire outer casing is plastic and while this does provide a good level of portability, it also means that it does lack somewhat in terms of a premium feel. There are no major accents or design cues that make Avy feel like a premium product. Looking at Avy head on and the entire front is made up of the two 5W speakers. These are separated by the 7-inch touchscreen display in the middle. From here on and all round, the rest of the unit is a single molded unit which curved inwards on both sides until the back is reached. As this is primarily a touchscreen enabled device, there are no further controls on the sides of the device.

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Moving to the back and this is where the main connection unit resides. The back includes the DC Input, a single line out, HDMI port, USB port and a microSD card slot for additional expansion if needed.

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Above the connection panel is a small handle which simply consists of a cut out from the molded unit. In terms of the handle, this is not the most ideal handle. The cut out space is quite small due to the depth at the top of the unit and does not provide much room to grip the unit with. If you have larger hands, this literally will not be a way you can use to carry the device and more often than not, it was felt carrying the speaker by holding it underarm was far more reliable and comfortable than using the handle.

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The bottom of the Zettaly Avy is quite minimal with just a few rubber feet in pace to steady the unit.

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While the top houses the only physical buttons you will find on the Zettaly Avy. These are power on/off, volume up and volume down.

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Of course, the unit does conveniently come with a remote control which does alleviate much of the need to use the on-board controls. Although, like the build in general, the buttons are once again not the most stylish or premium buttons on the device. These are plastic buttons and do have to be pressed quite hard to activate the feature. Not to mention, their clicking sound is much more reminiscent of an older device than what you might find on a modern device. However, what it cannot do is open the device when in screensaver mode. Not to mention, it is not the most responsive remote control. You do have to point the remote very directly at the display to get it to work. Still, it is a good addition and one you will find yourself using.

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Overall, the Zettaly Avy does feel as though it is designed with pricing in mind. This is not the cheapest speaker you can find, however, as this is essentially a tablet as well, the actual build quality is where it seems corners have been cut to bring the price to where it is.

Software and UI Experience

Although, the hardware is not the most exquisite, it is worth pointing out that where the Zettaly Avy comes to life is in its function. This is a multi-use device and one which can emulate a wide range of products that you might consider buying. Need a Bluetooth speaker, you got it.. Need a small tablet for the kids room. you got it… Portable TV for the Kitchen, you got it. The limits with the Zettaly Avy are largely endless. Of course, what makes this multi-purpose use possible is the operating system underlying everything and in this case, this is Android 4.4 (KitKat).

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Overall, this is quite a close-to-stock experience. The Zettaly Avy does provide a minimalist approach to Android and this is probably in its favor. As the device comes sporting 1GB RAM, the use of a more lighter version of Android means that it is not troubled too much during heavier usage. Once booted up and running, the software will be extremely familiar to anyone who uses Android and comes with all the pre-installed Google apps you would expect.

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In fact, this is where one of the biggest features of the Zettaly Avy is noted. As Zettaly Avy runs on Android, as soon as you sign in to your Google account, you instantly have access to all your media outlets. This is the real benefit over a product which might arrive offering a similar level of functionality but not running on Android. Therefore, once connected, you can instantly open your Google Play Music, Spotify etc and immediate access to all your songs, videos and so on. Of course as this is Android, you can download whatever you need from the Play Store including the likes of Netflix and once these additional apps are installed Zettaly Avy essentially becomes a one-stop media solution.

Overall, the software on the Zettaly Avy is what you would expect from an Android device which sports 1GB RAM. It is fine and does handle navigating and usage to an acceptable level. This is not the fastest software experience in the world and at times can be a little on the laggy side and therefore, you won’t be doing any serious multi-tasking on this device. However, for what the purpose(s) of the device is supposed to be, the software is more than adequate.

Speakers & Performance

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Depending on how you view the Zettaly Avy will determine how you approach the quality of the device. In speaker mode, this is a good speaker and does provide a good level of audio quality playback. It is not great though, and for the cost involved you are probably likely to find better quality wireless speakers for the same money. In fact, the louder the volume goes the more the speakers begin to struggle quickly. This is also the case when playing anything too bass oriented.

That said, with the screen in play and the ability to use Android natively, this is no ordinary speaker and what sets the Zettaly Avy apart. Again, if comparing the android experience to that of other Android devices, you might be somewhat disappointing. The RAM and processor abilities are both limited and therefore, performance does suffer against more high-end Android tablets. However, you are unlikely to be multi-tasking on this device. It is just not one of those devices. For what you do use it for, the performance was good, the system was reliable and there was never any force closures or crashes noted.

Battery Life

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As this is essentially a Bluetooth speaker, this is a unit that is portable and works just fine off the charge. However, compared to some other Bluetooth units, this is a speaker which comes with a 7-inch display attached and therefore also works as a media player. Needless to say, the screen is something which does drain the battery much quicker than you might find on a standard Bluetooth speaker and therefore, depending on your usage will dictate the battery life.

During testing, when played as a music player the screen hibernates very quickly ensuring that your battery lasts as long as possible. This often resulted in usage well in excess of 6 or 7 hours. However, when used as a media player solely (primarily YouTube videos), then the battery would only last for roughly three hours per charge. That said, recharging was relatively fast with the 2,000 mAh battery fully charged in roughly 80 minutes.

Camera

It is worth pointing out that on the front of the Zettaly Avy, there is a VGA camera. Now this is not that functional as a normal front-facing camera and you won’t be taking many, if any, selfies with this one. But what it does do is ensure that as well as the myriad of functions, you can also use the Zettaly Avy as a video chat tool. Downloading Skype, Hangouts and the likes and utilizing the front facing camera means it is just as easy to video call someone on the Zettaly Avy, as on any other device. Again, this is only a VGA camera so the image is not lightning crisp, but keeping in mind, this is a speaker primarily, it is more than capable of doing the job for a quick video chat with someone.

Summing Up

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After spending a couple of weeks with the Zettaly Avy, it has left an interfering impression. The truth of the matter is if you are only interested in high-quality audio and are happy to have to use your smartphone all the time, then you’re better off buying a dedicated Bluetooth speaker. Likewise, if you are more interested in a portable video, gaming and surfing experience, then you are better off picking up a more high-spec tablet that can handle multi-tasking and stronger level of processing. However, if like most people, you are looking for an all-in-one device which can double as a speaker when you need, provide a small TV to use when you want or something which wouldn’t look out of place in almost any room in the house, then the Zettaly Avy does fit the bill. Build quality and specs aside, the Zettaly Avy’s biggest benefit is that it runs on Android natively. This means that you have so many options as to what it can be used for. Not to mention, running on a portable battery means you can pretty much take it anywhere you like and use when you like. On this note, a second-generation Avy would greatly benefit in having 4G LTE connectivity as when you are away from WiFi, you do lose much of the functionality. But for what it is and certainly for what it does, the Zettaly Avy has created an interesting position for itself in the market and is a device which has a seriously large number of possibilities.

Buy the Zettaly Avy Wireless Smart Speaker