If you’re heavily invested in the Google ecosystem, using Google Assistant is likely second nature for you at this point. Whether it’s smart home commands or listening to music, Google Assistant is just useful to have around. So, why not have it around everywhere and the addition of great audio quality with a Bluetooth speaker that has Google Assistant built-in?
What to Look for in a Google Assistant Speaker
When it comes to selecting your speaker, there are a few things you should consider.
- Audio Quality: Obviously, this is the most important part of any speaker. You might have your preferences on how you like your audio to be tuned, but regardless of that, the speaker you buy should output audio worth its price tag.
- Connection Requirements: Google Assistant requires an internet connection for most features. You can still use the Bluetooth functionality without the internet, but if you want full access to Google Assistant, you’ll need to be connected to some form of network (whether that’s from the local coffee shop or your mobile hotspot).
- Build-Quality: You don’t want your expensive new speaker breaking within the first week. The speaker should be durable—able to survive a drop or two. After all, these speakers are built to be taken out of the house.
- Waterproofing vs. Water Resistance: Going along with build quality, it’s important to understand the difference between a speaker being waterproof and being water-resistant. A waterproof speaker can safely survive being submerged in shallow water for short periods of time. Meanwhile, a water-resistant speaker can only survive splashes of water and rain. Some manufacturers may also provide an Ingress Protection rating, which can clue you in to how waterproof the speakers are.
- On-Device Inputs: While you can use voice commands to control your speaker, that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful to have some tangible buttons to manage things as well.
- Size and Weight: If you’re packing a speaker in a bag, you want it to be fairly compact. Even cutting an inch or two can make a surprising difference, and the same goes for how much it weighs. It is worth noting that, generally speaking, smaller speakers have to make the trade-off of lesser sound quality to achieve their compact size, though.
- Battery Life: An obvious factor for sure, but you want your speaker to last a decent amount of time before dying.
A Line with Options: JBL Link Portable and Link 20
JBL is probably the most well-known for producing these sorts of speakers, and for good reason. Its lineup balances price, audio quality, and portability insanely well, and you even have a couple of options to choose between in the Link Portable and the Link 20.
Starting at the smaller option, the JBL Link Portable is built for, well, portability. It’s fully waterproof, lasts for about eight hours on a full charge, and still features the quality sound JBL is known for. Naturally, as a fairly small speaker, the audio quality can’t match larger speakers like the Link 20, but it’s still great for the size. The on-device inputs on the Link Portable are pretty simple, with a Google-Assistant button and volume controls on the top of the speaker.
The Link Portable comes in three colors: grey, blue, and black (pictured above).
If audio quality is your main concern, then the JBL Link 20 is the way to go. It’s significantly taller than the Portable at 8.26 inches, but in exchange for that increased height, you’re getting better audio quality. And, just like the Link Portable, the on-device inputs can be found on the top of the Link 20.
Alongside portability though, you’re also making a couple of other tradeoffs with the Link 20. It’s only water-resistant (Ingress Protection rating of IPX7) instead of waterproof like the Portable, and it only lasts for five hours on a full charge. There is also the Link 10, which is a smaller version of the Link 20 and is around the same size as the Portable. It has the same features and battery life of the Link 20, but when it comes to that size, the Portable is the better option.
The Link 20 comes in either black or white (pictured above).
You can’t go wrong with either of these speakers; it just depends on whether you prioritize audio quality or portability.
The Premium Option: Sonos Move
If having the highest quality audio possible is what matters the most to you, then the Sonos Move is the speaker to buy. It’s not cheap by any means, but the premium audio quality it delivers for that premium price makes it all worth it. The speaker is fairly large and heavy at six pounds, which can be a pain when it comes to packing, but that’s just a sacrifice you have to make for superior sound.
The Move is also fairly durable as well. It’s rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IP56, meaning it can survive most forms of tame weather (rain and wind mostly). Do note though, the Move is merely water-resistant, not waterproof—don’t want to get that mixed up on a $400 speaker.
All the controls you’d expect are found on the top of the Move, and it can last for about 10 hours on a full charge. The Sonos Move comes in either white or black (pictured above).
Sonos Move - Battery-powered Smart Speaker, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with Alexa built-in - Black???????
If quality audio is your main concern, this pricey speaker delivers.
Premium Portability: Bose Portable Home Speaker
The Bose Portable Home Speaker is your best bet if you want premium audio quality with better portability. Being from Bose, you know that you can expect high-quality audio (even if it does come at a high price), but besides that, the speaker’s small build and handle make it ideal for travel. It’s water-resistant and features a durable build, so you can feel good about taking it out of the house.
Alongside the portable-friendly build, you’ll also find your typical media controls and buttons all placed on the top of the speaker for easy access. This speaker lasts for 12 hours on a full charge, and you can get it in either silver (pictured above) or black.
Bose Portable Smart Speaker — Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa Voice Control Built-In, Silver
A better balance of portability and audio quality.
Super Small: TicHome Mini
When it comes to portability, the TicHome Mini reigns supreme. This speaker is small and light (0.6 pounds) enough to never be a concern when packing. And while larger speakers may be able to give you better sound, if portability is your main concern, the Mini is the speaker to go with.
Besides that, it’s a fairly basic speaker with some simple media controls on top and a hanging strap. The battery lasts about six hours, and it’s rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IPX6, which means it should handle rain and splashes just fine.
You can get the TicHome Mini in black (pictured above), white, or teal.
And Finally: Some Battery Bases
If you’re on a budget, getting a speaker like this that’s friendly to the wallet can be a hard task. However, if you already have a Google Home or Google Home Mini lying around, you can actually convert those into portable Bluetooth speakers with a simple battery base. Google added Bluetooth audio support to the Home line a while ago, and these battery bases make sure the speaker keeps running even when away from an outlet.
It is important to note that neither the Home nor the Home Mini is built to be portable, so you’ll have to be more careful with them than the other speakers here.
This base from Ninety7 is pretty simple, but it’ll keep your standard Google Home running for about eight hours. It also comes in three colors: black (pictured above), bronze, and white.
Ninety7 Battery Base for Google Home Audio/Video Product Carbon/Black (Loft Carbon)
A simple battery base for a simple purpose.
Another simple base, this time from KIWI Design. It fits your Google Home Mini nice and snug and can protect it from minor bumps and falls, too. This base will keep your Mini running for about 12 hours and comes in three colors as well: Light Stone Gray (pictured above), orange, and dark gray.
We want to make it clear that this base is for the Google Home Mini, not the Nest Mini. The Nest Mini would be a fantastic speaker for this as well, but, unfortunately, neither Google nor any third-party vendors produce battery bases for it. You could always rely on an external battery pack and MicroUSB cable to keep your Nest Mini running out of the house, but that’s a pretty lame option and far from elegant.
KIWI design Rechargeable Battery Base for Home Mini by Google (1st Gen), 7800mAh Portable Charger Accessories for Home Mini by Google (Light Stone Gray)
A protective battery base to keep your Home Mini running.