Review: HomeSpot Bluetooth 5.0 audio transmitter (Hardware)
HomeSpot is a leading consumer electronics brand operating around the globe who creates products that help people realize the power of technology and make people’s lives smarter, better and easier. All HomeSpot products are carefully designed and tested to ensure they meet rigorous quality standards, and they have passionate ideas about what’s possible in this world, leading them to create experiences and realities that expand our world and inspire us.
The HomeSpot Bluetooth 5.0 Audio transmitter arrives in an extremely cheap-as-chips looking printed cardboard box, which I'm genuinely shocked didn't get crushed in the mail, and they clearly spared every expense in delivering this item to market. Upon opening the box you will find an instruction manual, the adaptor, a USB to USB-C socket dongle, and a soft pouch in which to stow it. The addition of the USB dongle allows you to plug it into the console while docked, and the soft pouch is a welcome addition to allow you to comfortably take it on the move with you—these are some nice little touches that elevate the contents of this little package to a superb level of customer care. The version I received from HomeSpot to review was in the neon red/blue colourway, which matches my second Switch perfectly.
Dimensions: 1.89" x 0.57" x 0.57"
Weight: 0.176 oz
USB Type-C Connector
Bluetooth 5.0 (Dual-Streaming Supported)
The audio transmitter itself is as ubiquitous as possible in its low profile design, and with next to no weight to it, the dongle is barely noticeable when carrying your console in handheld mode. As you can imagine, this is ideal. It slots simply into the charging socket of the console and sits solidly in there ready to connect to your Bluetooth devices. I tested a variety of devices, including Bluetooth speakers, Bluetooth headsets and even my Bluetooth soundbar, and it was exceptionally simple to connect, set-up, adjust, and disconnect. The adaptor itself also features a built-in microphone so virtually every headset, from virtually any manufacturer, is compatible with or without a mic for you to enjoy your expletive-heavy trash-talking on the go! The unit comprises of two buttons, each one will pair one headset, and 3 LEDs to indicate pairing/paired status and which codec is in use, whether it is utilising the traditional APTX or APTX low latency version. I love the fact you can visually see that you are using low power modes, it's akin to having an energy monitor in your house and being able to witness your money go up in flames to heat your house. This however just shows with codec is in use so you know you're using less power with compatible headsets. APTX is a codec able to wirelessly transmit up to 24-bit hi-definition audio with ease, and as a result, the HomeSpot transmitter never stuttered, sounded slow or bit-crushed, or cut-out even over some considerable distances. I wander off frequently with my headset still plugged into my skull and I was still able to hear in-game music and the ramblings of friends superbly even 3 rooms away (approx 12 meters from the unit). As mentioned on the site at the bottom, games such as Fortnite, Smite, Paladins, Friday the 13th and more all work superbly, but must be able to utilise in-game chat natively and not use Nintendo's ill-fated octopus-like mess of cables and a mobile phone app to communicate.
It's worth noting that during this review I didn't notice any significant battery drain during standard 4.x connected Bluetooth use, which is a fantastic piece of news for those specifically with the old battery model, and this transmitter can also draw next to nothing thanks to its use of Bluetooth standard 5.0 low energy method, providing the headset in question uses the 5.0 standard too (note that Airpods use 4.2). Bluetooth 5.0 also introduces dual audio which this little dongle handles too, allowing for two headsets to connect up and listen in at the same time. What a time to be alive!
As a bonus test I thought I would plug this into my trusty PS4 using the USB-C to USB-A dongle and see what happened, and to my utter amazement it allowed me to connect two headsets to my PS4, though the microphone was unsupported, neither in the headset itself or in the HomeSpot transmitter, but I could set the audio to "all audio" out of the headset to hear everything that was coming out of the console. This is quite interesting as the PS4 would not allow me to pair the headset to it directly, giving me an "Audio devices are not supported over Bluetooth" error when trying to connect the very same headset as a Bluetooth device in the device settings. I also tested it on PC and the HomeSpot identified as a "USB Audio Device" on my Windows 10 laptop, but again I couldn't get any microphone output from the device; it's possibly just my setup that accounts for this though.
With competitors like Genki and GULIkit out there I thought this one might have upped the ante and made it as solid and as premium as possible to set itself apart and justify its £10 price difference. Alas, both it and its packaging look and feel incredibly cheap, also wobbling a little when plugged in during handheld sessions. Amusingly, you can actually is it as a mini stand to set your Switch up on edge, instead of using the standard kickstand, and it's pretty sturdy. I have noticed that the first batches of these ever made didn't come in a variety of colours and didn't come in much more than a brown cardboard box, so HomeSpot clearly listens and perhaps they will read this and take note of my opinions on this product too.
+ Extremely easy to set up, even for two headsets!
+ Colour coordinated with six variants available
+ Bluetooth 5.0 ready & utilising APTX makes it future proof
+ Compatible with more than just Switch/Switch Lite consoles
- A disappointingly cheap aesthetic for the product and packaging considering the price
out of 10
I really like this product's simplicity to do what it says it will do, and to do it well. It's sleek and blends in brilliantly with the console, you can use it docked or in handheld mode out of the box, and it barely makes a dent in your battery with low powered BT 5.0 devices. My only major quibble is the £37.99 price point for such a cheap feeling product, though it is really a superficial complaint as it really packs in some amazing technology.