One of our top family tech picks from CES this year was Triby, the wireless hands-free speaker phone that helps keep the whole family in touch, even without a landline. The preview got us giddy for the technology to come for those of us getting rid of landlines at home. And now there’s the Ily family phone, which is also billed as a way to bring everyone together and we’re excited by the options.

So what’s the difference between Triby and Ily, and which one is right for your family?

The biggest thing that Ily can do exclusively is make video calls, either to another Ily console or to the Ily app (iOS and Android). While many of us are pretty handy with Skype and Google Hangouts, our kids and their grandparents may not be. The Ily console makes it super easy for all of them to connect over video, without involving me or my laptop.

Of course Ily also lets you make voice calls, with pre-programmed numbers for everyone on your home screen. I like how all the connectivity options are associated with a name and face on Ily, so kids know they’re calling Dad or Aunt Susan — as opposed to just pressing the Phone 1 button on Triby and hoping that’s the one for Mom.

The Ily family phone: All your contacts are shown on the home screen

The Ily family phone: Video chat between Ily consoles or the Ily app and cut the landline

Another cool thing about Ily that it seems parents will like is the memo feature. You can leave kids a list of chores to do, what time they should be ready for carpool pickup, or a reminder that homework comes before screen time. Because the screen is big enough for a video chat, it’s also big enough to accommodate my grocery list.

You could send and receive messages with Triby instead, but they have to be pretty brief due to the small screen size, which makes the memo feature a smart workaround.

The Ily family phone: Send memos and create to-do lists

And for you music lovers, Ily and Triby work with Spotify, but until we try them out, we’re reserving judgment on speaker performance. In the meantime, Liz remains a staunch SONOS evangelist as far as music goes. 

Like Triby, Ily connects over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and you can also plug Ily into your landline and Ethernet jacks. Triby does last for up to a month on a full charge, so you can stick it on the fridge and practically forget about it. But unfortunately, this brings me to Ily’s one huge drawback: It requires outlet power since there’s no battery.

That’s not too surprising, given that Ily makes and receives video calls on an 8-inch touch screen, but it also means all the downsides of traditional plugs. The last thing my kitchen needs is one more cord strung across the counter. Then again, super simple video calls are a pretty big pro for Ily. I could be persuaded to deal with another cord if it means my kids can video chat with their grandmother who doesn’t “do” tech. Or travel.

If the Ily family phone sounds like it could be a good fit for your family,  jump on it now because the price goes up August 1, with shipment expected in time to show off this year’s cool Halloween costumes.

 

Right now, the Ily family phone is $199 for a single console, or you can get two consoles for $189 each (one for you, one for the grandparents) with shipments expected this fall.

Triby, is expected to launch this summer, also for $199.

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