08 March 2018
Earlier this week, Apple confirmed that the company’s first-ever smart speaker, the HomePod, will go on sale starting February 9, 2018. However, the company has now opened its portal for users to pre-order the speaker in the US, UK, and Australia. The gadget costs $349 (£319 or AU$499) and is available in two colors – white and space grey.
The HomePod ships with features like AirPlay 2 that allows pairing and multi-room audio. The speaker is powered by Apple’s A8 chip (which first appeared in the iPhone 6) and includes built-in Siri, six microphones, HomeKit support for compatible smart home devices, and the ability to automatically optimize sound for a given room.
Julian Chokkattu from Digital Trends got his first hands-on the new speaker and mentions his experience as:
Audio quality is beautifully warm, yet the bass is not overpowering, even though it was still quite rich. If you close your eyes, it’s easy to feel like you’re at a live performance. We could pick out the vocals and instruments clearly. The speaker allows each instrument to shine through; you can hear precise guitar plucks. No, it doesn’t have that crisp sound you’d hear from very expensive high-end speakers, but then again, the HomePod doesn’t cost thousands yet still pushes brilliant sound quality out of a single, small enclosure. What’s more impressive is how consistent the HomePod sounds wherever you are in the room. Yes, the further away you are, the quieter it is, but not by much. It almost felt like the music was following our movement, and it consistently sounded great.
With a price tag of $349, the HomePod stands the most expensive one at its size. Rival companies like Google offer its Google Home Max at $399 and the Google Home at $129, whereas the Amazon Echo costs $99.99. Sonos is also offering two Sonos One speakers for $349 as a limited period offer. Right now, the Sonos One supports Alexa integration but it is also promising Google Assistant integration soon.