Every once in a while a company will release a product that isn’t billed as the most ground-breaking achievement ever, nor even a life-changing technological marvel. No, sometimes a company will push out products just to help us take our lives a little less seriously, to add a little fun and lightheartedness. On this note, Boynq has a silly, albeit useful, speaker & webcam solution. We ran the Boynq Alibi through the paces to see if it’s got as much substance as it has irreverence. Read on to see how the Alibi performed.
Features and Design
The Boynq Alibi speaker & webcam all-in-one unit has a purely fun design element to it. From the packaging to the highly unusual shape, the Alibi is anything but stodgy.
Available in multiple colors (our review unit came in a Kermit-green), the Alibi blends in with desk accessories or nick-knacks on a shelf. The base stands roughly 7″ high with the webcam closed. When the pop-up webcam is engaged, the total height is about 8″. The very top of the webcam is a mirrored metallic finish. When the Alibi is plugged in to your computer and the webcam head is popped up, the power indicator glows like bioluminescent green.
The webcam head can be adjusted to many different angles. It’ll angle 25 degrees left and right, and it’ll even rotate 300 degrees, allowing you to record video of most of a room without having to move the body of the webcam itself. Sadly, the Alibi does not have a rotating motor to automate this process. You still need to manually rotate the cam. Also, it may take a little fidgeting to get the proper angle to stick but once it’s set, it’ll stay. The webcam records at 640×480 and features auto white balance and color management.
The volume control is pretty cool. Instead of volume knobs, the Alibi has a tall silvery ring around its waist line. Slide the ring left or right to adjust volume up or down. The built-in mic isn’t noise canceling, but it does cancel out incidental echoes from web chat activity.
On the very bottom of the Alibi is the 5 watt speaker, covered by a tough little metal mesh screen. The speaker has a frequency range of 20Hz to 20 kHz, which is pretty impressive. Of course, it’s only 5 watts. It’ll produce good quality sound, but you won’t be able to crank it up very loud.
The Boynq Alibi works fine with VoIP programs like Skype.
Setup and Use
Setting up the Alibi is dirt simple. Set the Alibi on a desk or table; plug the USB 2.0 cable from your computer into the back of the Alibi. Then take a look at the Alibi’s audio cable. One end will have a single 3.5mm plug and the other end will have two 3.5mm jacks. The single jack goes into the audio port on the Alibi and the dual jacks go into your computer’s analog microphone and speaker ports. That’s it. The Alibi is set up and should be instantly recognized by and accessible to your computer. (Make sure that the webcam head of the Alibi is popped up and that the green power indicator is on.)
To test the Alibi, open up a program like Skype. In the preferences/options screen, select the Video tab and choose the Alibi as the default video device. In a quick moment, the Alibi will kick into gear and video will appear in your Skype settings window. If all looks good, close the settings window and make a video chat call to someone else on Skype. Have fun!
The Alibi renders different quality video in different programs. On the MacBook Pro, for example, the Alibi renders “ok” video in Skype, but renders much nicer video in iChat. It’s not as good as video taken directly from the built-in iSight camera, but it’s actually very acceptable.
As for sound quality, I tested the Alibi with a few raucous beats. The first was Herbie Hancock’s Rockit from Future Shock. Without EQ settings employed, the Alibi sounded hollow and tinny. With “Bass Booster” selected from iTunes, the Alibi began to sound a little more genuine. It never pushed out a sound that was “impressive”, but for 5 watts, what can one expect? The song Beat Box (Diversion 1) from Art of Noise sounded pretty good – the highs were high and bright, the mids were pretty tight, but the bass was flimsy. Finally, I played the song No Brakes by The Bravery at various EQ settings. It sounded like the music was coming from a tin can at times. Highs and the upper end of mids were all strong, but bass seemed to be constantly coughing up fur balls.
To be fair, the Alibi’s sound quality for VoIP and audio chat is just fine. Voices sound natural and clean, and this is the way the Alibi will typically be used. For a good speaker set for music, look elsewhere.
One of the nicest things about using the Alibi is the fact that there’s no power brick. It’s all powered by the USB port. Very nice.
The Boynq Alibi is a fun, goofy and irreverent speaker and webcam combo unit that will appeal to pre-teens and those who have a light-hearted sense of humor and/or style. Even though the speaker isn’t able to produce impressive sounds, the camera works well and provides a quality image with clean movement – very good for VoIP programs. The pop-up, rotating webcam head is entirely unique. It’s also easy to set up on Windows and Mac systems. Plus, at only $60 USD, the Alibi is a decent bargain.
• Easy to set up and use
• Nice clean picture and smooth motion possible
• Unique design and functionality
• 5 watt speaker is very limited
• Image quality varies by software used