Ministry of Supply is an intelligent heated jacket that learns your behaviors. In this review, we will discuss if you should really buy this new jacket.
This jacket is fitted with carbon fiber heating pads in the back and in the pockets to keep you warm, rather than rely on bulky padding or fluff. It’s made to look space-aged and is inspired by NASA spacesuits. One of the most intriguing features to most people is that it can sync up with Alexa, making it somewhat voice controlled.
This version is black, but when they reached their stretch goals, they put out a white option, as well. The white option has removable Velcro patches with different countries’ emblems on them. So, it’s not bulky, it talks to your Alexa devices, and it’s supposed to look like a space suit.
But what are the drawbacks?
Review and Discussion – Should you buy this Jacket?
Well, there are a few drawbacks, actually. Let’s talk about the heating pads first.
While carbon fiber heating elements sound like new-aged, advanced technology, they’re not. Most electric blankets use the same technology. Also, the heating pads are only in the back of the jacket and in the pockets. There are other brands of cheaper jackets like this one on the Amazon with similar designs that aren’t bulky and have heating pads in the left-chest, right-chest and mid-back all three.
The jacket comes with a warranty, which is good. But it only covers the hardware in the jacket.
That warranty may come in handy, however, as the jacket is supposed to be machine washed, with the hardware (minus the battery packs) inside. It will supposedly stand up to washing, but it’s only guaranteed that it will do so for 50 washes. And, that doesn’t cover the material the jacket is made of. So, if it starts falling apart, you’re just going to have to buy a new jacket because the warranty doesn’t cover that. Also, washing and care instructions are a bit complex.
It’s recommended that you wash it in cold water, then put it in the dryer on a low setting for 15 minutes, then air dry.
The Ministry of Supply has made this jacket semi-odor resistant by infusing coffee into the fabric to absorb odors, so you may not have to wash it often, which is good because it sounds like a pain to do!
The Alexa capabilities of the jacket are very sparse. The only thing Alexa can do is turn the jacket on. If you want the heat settings changed, you’ll have to do that manually via an app on your phone. Also, it doesn’t come with Alexa onboard, so you’ll have to connect it to an Alexa device. There aren’t other services, such as Siri or Cortana, that you can use to voice operate the jacket with at this time. But they are considering integrating them. However, if you have a Cortana device, there is already a Google jacket on the market made by Levi. (Yes, the jeans company.)
One of the things the developers are most excited about is the “machine learning” of the jacket. It will actually learn things about your preferences and such and do things on its own, after a while.
But, it does take a while for it to learn. In the beginning, the jacket’s charge will last for around four hours. After it learns, it can hold a charge for a week or more. That seems ridiculous, given that a battery is a battery and it can store the same amount of energy, regardless of what the mechanism learns. Why not make the battery last a week or more from the beginning?
Also, there’s no way to control what it learns. Say you wear the jacket a lot while you’re living in a cold climate, so it learns your preferences to that climate, then you move to a more warm environment the next year. And let’s add in there that you’re a hot- natured person who likes to be warm all the time, regardless. There’s no real way to tell the jacket to learn that even if it’s 60 degrees out, you still want it on the medium setting, without going into the app on your phone and manually changing the temperature setting yourself. So, in that case, why have the machines learning at all?
International buyers seem to get the short end of the stick with this jacket. International buyers don’t have to pay shipping for their jackets. But, that’s because they don’t get the battery packs.
That’s right, if you live overseas, batteries are not included in this purchase. And you can’t very well use the jacket without the batteries, can you? One can purchase the battery packs online and the Ministry of Supply has given recommendations as to what type to buy. But, they’re considering changing the specifications closer to manufacturing and then announcing the new recommendations later on. So, if you’re an international buyer, don’t go buying your batteries just yet. Wait until they release the newest recommendations.
Since this is a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter, one last reminder is that even if you spend the approximately $200 for the jacket, you won’t get one until November or December. If you live in a place where it starts getting cold before then, you’re going to have to buy two jackets.
So, is it worth paying the $200 for? You be the judge of that. Personally, I like the idea of the Google and Levi jacket better because it has more Bluetooth capabilities and I wouldn’t have to take my phone out as often.