(I don’t usually write product reviews but the folks at Ninety7 sent me one of their new products to try out, and I like it. I hope they don’t want it back.)
Voice commands are so now right now, but with the exception of your smartphone, the current generation of voice-enabled devices — Amazon’s Alexa products, Google’s Home products and Apple’s HomePod — are mains-powered only. If you want to take one with you, you’ll have to either find a power outlet, or take along an external battery.
Which is weird, because these days so many things have an integrated battery. I’ve been using a battery-powered electric shaver and phone for decades but these days so many things have a battery power option. I even have a battery-powered coffee grinder and a battery-powered umbrella (don’t @ me OK? It was a Kickstarter campaign and they no longer make them because, I‘m sure, all their other customers had as much trouble remembering to charge their umbrella as I did).
Why should my use of “OK Google” be confined to the distance between the end of a power cord and a power outlet?
It is no longer, thanks to the nifty $59.95 JOT portable battery case for our Google Home Mini. They also make one for the Google Home called LOFT for $69.95.
The LOFT and JOT are a battery-in-a-base. Slot your Google Home device into it, click in the two-piece neck that holds them together, plug in the power cord your Google Home device came with it, and wait until the little row of LEDs says it’s fully charged.
You’ll get about eight hours of standby battery life from it, a bit less if you use it to play music continuously (I got about half that playing non-stop music from my Google Home Mini plugged into the JOT).
I found the JOT improved the sound of the Google Home Mini when sitting on a hard surface like a table or bench. The sound had more mid-range and bass. I think that’s probably because the base elevates the speaker, giving it more ‘air’ to reproduce lower frequencies.
Note that you’ll still need your Google Home device to be connected to the internet to do its voice-aware thing and Google Home devices will only remember one wifi network. If you’re planning to take it away to somewhere with a different wifi network, its not hard but a little tedious to go through the Google Home wifi setup process each time. You can always tether it to your phone if you’re going someplace without wifi, though your Home’s battery may last longer than your phone’s!
If Ninety7 don’t ask for it back, I think I’ll just leave the Google Home Mini in the JOT base all the time, since it improves the sound quality and and ensures the battery is always charged and ready to go.
It comes in colours that match the colour of your Google Home device and it’s available in Aussie physical and online retailers now. Here’s some more photos showing the way the two-piece collar clicks it all together.