The folks at Zettaly have been busy in the last couple years, taking to crowdfunding to help get a few products to market. One device that has succeeding in finding its way to a retail outlet near you is the Avy, an Android powered 7-inch tablet built right into a speaker dock.
We’ve been playing with the Avy for the better part of the last month, and we are prepared to offer up our verdict, join us as we explore if the Zettaly Avy is the device for you.
You will notice straight away that the Avy is not your typical tablet. Despite providing a competent 7-inch display and offering up the full Android KitKat experience you might find on an outdated Nexus 7, Avy is more music box than tablet.
A pair of speaker grills sandwich the display, creating an almost 14-inch by nearly 5-inch flat front surface. The large half circle designed casing of Avy is made more for optimal audio and posture, it is certainly not made for comfort in the hand, unless you count the convenient finger slot handle on the back side, which makes carrying Avy simple and comfortable.
The overall design gives the display and speakers a slight upward slant, making Avy ideal for setting on the table beside you. The back side houses an arrangement of ports you are not likely to find on a typical tablet, including a microSD slot and HDMI port. There is also a headphone jack, micro USB port and a power plug, but we’ll talk more about that later.
The back casing has a shiny plastic finish to it, which looks pretty nice in white, but we haven’t seen the black version up close just yet. As mentioned, there is a comfortable slot-style handle near the top of the back that makes carrying Avy very easy. The bottom of the device has three rubber pads to land on, providing a sturdy and quiet stance, but also allowing Avy to transfer sound vibrations into the table, enhancing the lower tones of your music.
The top edge of Avy houses three buttons, simply your power and volume controls.
The 7-inch display offers up 1024×600 screen resolution, which is again fairly comparable to your first generation Nexus 7 tablet. Display brightness ranges from not too bright when viewed in the dark of night, to slightly visible in direct sunlight.
Although the brightness abilities are a little lacking as compared to modern tablets, the viewing angles are right on the mark. That is, viewing side to side and from the top down is crystal clear, but viewing from the bottom up does fade out a bit. Assuming you have your Avy sitting in its proper position, this shouldn’t cause you any problems.
The Zettaly Avy is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core SoC made of ARM Cortex A7 chips. Combined with 1GB of RAM, Avy is capable of processing 3D acceleration and up to 1080p video. I did put 1080p video to the test and it performed flawlessly, even if the display is not 1080p itself. The same can be said when pushing the same video over HDMI out to a proper 1080p external monitor, making Avy a surprisingly good set-top box.
Now, to the point of Avy, music playback. With the built-in 10 Watts of power pumping to two speakers, audio is crisp and clear. The device is more than capable of pumping out your favorite mp3s for hours on end. This performance does not change when you are plugged to the wall or running off the internal battery, which is enough to keep your screen on for a couple hours, or music playing for over 5 hours at a moderate volume, at least in my testing.
It is important to note that we all have different tastes in sound when determining quality. For me, Avy is a wonderful device that pumps out pleasant sounds at lower volume levels, it sits beside me now playing my normal ‘thinking’ playlist of instrumental and low-impact music.
I choose to plug my favorite headphones into Avy when I need to listen to my ‘get-stuff-done’ playlist, Avy’s built-in speakers distort more than I’d like when you really push them, and overall bass output is less than you might find from the more expensive Sonos or Bose speaker systems.
I suppose those conclusions are to be expected, Avy is a unique device with no real direct competition from mainstream manufacturers. So, allow me to say that, as a gut reaction, I would rank Avy as good as a typical $50-$60 Bluetooth speaker dock, in terms of sound quality.
In the hardware department, Avy rocks that 7-inch TFT display, quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. As this is a music player, it is good then that you can expand storage with up to 32GB microSD.
Audio is driven by 2x5W speakers, and a built-in microphone. Enabling video conferencing from the device, Avy packs a front facing VGA camera. Do not expect miraculous quality out of it, but it is more than enough to say hi to mom.
Rounding out the specs list is that HDMI port, headphone jack, microSD slot, and micro USB port. The device is powered by a proprietary plug, leaving that micro USB port exclusive to OTG connections for peripherals or external storage. On the inside you’ll find Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity.
Finally, and possibly something I should have mentioned much sooner, Avy comes with a 15 button remote control. Control your music, volume and more with a single press, or use the directional buttons to manually navigate your device. Speaking for myself, I use the remote a lot more than I thought I would, and I think you will too.
We’ve already mentioned that the Zettaly Avy is powered by Android 4.4.4 KitKat. This version of Android did not change during a very recent OTA update, but the smattering of bugs proves the company is backing their device. They informed me that Android 5.x Lollipop is in the works for the device, but no ETA was provided.
In addition to your standard Android KitKat experience for tablets, Avy adds a few little tricks. Hidden in the Settings menu you’ll find a HDMI section, to take control of your external display settings. You will also find a Screenshot Settings entry. Avy does not take screenshots by way of pressing physical buttons, instead there is a software button that lives with the added volume control buttons alongside your Home button and more in the navigation bar.
The folks at Zettaly have been very receptive and responsive to a few little concerns I have had with Avy. Bug reports have been submitted for a little issue with Android’s Daydream feature not keeping the display turned on. Just one of those cases where the default actions of Android are not good enough. Considering how great of a digital photo frame Avy makes, I am happy to see this update sooner rather than later.
From there, they were very patient helping me diagnose a frequent audio skipping issue, turns out it was my fault, I must have just had a corrupt file on my microSD card. Of course, it possibly relates to a headphone audio routing issue that they are already working on repairing.
Expanding on your expectations, I will specify that Avy provides access to the full gamut of Google software. This includes Google Play Services, the Google Play Store and everything in between. My point is, whatever your other Android devices can do, Avy can also handle.
When all else fails, try ignoring the fact that Avy has its own operating system, connect to it via Bluetooth and stream your favorite music straight from your phone.
Pricing and final thoughts
The Zettaly Avy is a very respectable first entry from a new company. Especially one that found its start on Kickstarter and is now producing gear on scale to sell through Amazon. As I can best describe Avy as a dream product from and for its designers, it is easy to see the passion that has gone into it, but I can also see the acceptance of some lower-end hardware to make this product a financial viability.
Despite the compromises, Avy is a solid unit that provides a complete and fluid Android experience as well as providing great sound for your small audience settings. The going price is $199.95, and can be had from Amazon.com or Amazon EU.
Bottom line, if you are picky about your audio quality and accustomed to high-end audio gear, please give Avy a listen before you expect it to perform as well as similarly priced portable speakers. Remember that Avy includes a display and all the benefits of Android, in addition to being a set of speakers, which makes the overall package well worth your consideration.
Have you seen the Zettaly Avy in action yourself, what did you think of it? Are you willing to buy an all-in-one Android tablet and music player?
For more details, visit http://www.zettaly.com/avy/