Fluance’s new Fi20 is a portable, good-looking. omni-directional speaker that serves up audio that comes close, but doesn’t quite match, that of HomePod. Plus, Apple’s speaker does have more bells and whistles, but it costs $349 compared to the Fi20’s $99. You’ll have to decide if the bells and whistles are worth the extra moolah.
With an omnidirectional up-firing acoustic dispersion design (instead of the traditional front-firing configuration) and 15-Watt Class D amplifier, the Fluance speaker “radiates” audio in every direction. This means you can place the speaker anywhere in a room and the audio — with vibrant highs, clear mids, and deep, rich bass — remains constant.
The Fi20 accomplishes all this in a portable (three pounds and 12 inches tall), stylish design with responsive, top-mounted touch controls for power, volume, track skip, and play/pause. The triangular tower-shaped speaker is hand-crafted with engineered wood to suppress resonance for increased warmth and an overall more natural sound.
Did I mention portable? The Fi20’s rechargeable battery can last 24 hours on a charge; it takes about 3.5 hours for a full charge. And it has a carrying handle, which makes it easy to grab it and go.
The Fi20 has a discreet LED accent light (which you can disable if you wish) and more output options than the HomePod. In addition to Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, there’s a 3.5mm aux input. However, theres’s no USB port, which would have been nice. Also, like most Bluetooth speakers, you can use it as a speakerphone.
The Fi20 is available in three finishes: black ash, lucky bamboo, and natural walnut. While the speaker looks and sounds great for its size, you should note that its wood design means you’ll want to keep it away from water. In other words, if you’re looking for a poolside speaker, you need to look elsewhere. Otherwise, there’s a lot to love (including the price) with the Fi20.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★