Apple HomePod Smart Speaker Up For Pre-Orders For US$ 349

Jan 27, 2018, 19:17
Apple HomePod Smart Speaker Up For Pre-Orders For US$ 349

While the fanfare around an Apple product launch is enough for it to be sold out within minutes, the HomePod is still available for pre-orders. The Google Home is priced at US$129 while the Amazon Echo costs US$ 99. Amazon's Echo (with its voice assistant "Alexa") and Google's Home (with "Google Assistant") have many similar faults, whether we're talking about mishearing commands, not understanding them, or not being able to do what you want them to do.

The HomePod will be available for pre-order Friday, January 26 from the Apple Store in the UK. The main question is whether it's worth spending that over the other options in your case. "It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalogue and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, attractive design that is so much fun to use", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Pair your Sonos Ones together in the same room for stereo sound. It's impressively controlled while staying potent. Because it really does: With song after song - from the snare drums of Ariana Grande's "Side to Side" to the rat-tat-tat voices of "My Shot" from Hamilton to the of complex guitar of the Eagles' "Hotel California", the HomePod made them all sound visceral and suitably warm, whether the volume as loud or soft. It certainly looks good, and from what I've heard in my limited time with it, it sounds good. An interesting feature is the ability to automatically optimise sound for a given room.

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A big part of this is Apple's room-adapting tech and algorithms.

It can make the music sound fresh, with visceral sounds, perfectly distributing it across the room. While neither are particularly eye-catching, they're also pretty unobtrusive on the whole. Other than that, Apple has designed it to use as little energy as possible. Basically, it customises the output on a per-song basis to make it sound as close to the recording as it can. It wouldn't be wrong to say that the speaker houses advanced technology on the inside that not numerous competitors are offering.

Combine voice with the Sonos app to manage all your music in one place. Alarmingly for Sonos, it seems to outgun its own smart speaker, the Sonos One. It blows the second-gen Echo out of the water, as you'd expect.

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Google's best-sounding smart speaker is the Home Max, so - yet again - if top sound quality is what you're going for, then you'll actually save $50 with the HomePod, since Google Home Max is $399. The Harman Kardon Allure was its closest competitor (no surprise, since it costs £249), but lacked the fullness of the HomePod's sound - it just felt noticeably flatter across the range.

Yesterday, Sonos announced that it would be dropping the price of its two-pack of Sonos One smart speakers today, bringing it to $349. It can not connect to devices via Bluetooth and there are no physical inputs like the industry-standard optical and 3.5mm connections. Developers already know what the capabilities will be of AirPlay 2, so it's not like Apple couldn't have revealed some of its future features.

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