A few thoughts about Apple’s new smart-home hub, the HomePod…
Hey, Apple. You’re late. Way late.
Review of Apple HomePod Price
Hey, Apple. Your price is high. Way high.
Now, for a bit of opinion about the Apple HomePod.
Long after Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home have won legions of fans, have dropped down in list price, Apple decides to introduce the HomePod, Cupertino’s belated, allegedly “much-anticipated,” voice-controlled Siri smart phone hub. In doing so, Apple joins what could arguably be called “a rush,” or perhaps “a cloud” of companies now producing hub speakers that respond to voice commands.
Announced last June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, the Homepod will be officially released on Friday, February 9, 2018. The Hughes Brothers believe that first shipment of the H’pod will arrive without some advertised features.
It happens when one is late and expensive.
Is “speaker quality” worth $250 to you?
Near as the brothers can tell, the only justification for the difference in manufacturer’s suggested retail price arises from superior quality in the speaker. Much abused word “quality.” Much abused, in our opinion, in a HomePod price of $349 versus the Echo at a hundred bucks and Google Home at $129.
So, are we to believe that the audience – an audience sophisticated and then some – willing to spend three times as much for speaker quality in a home hub do not already have an in-home sound system approaching recording studio status?
Apple HomePod Comparison
We mean, sophisticated shoppers who have probably already hooked an Echo Dot or a Google Home Mini (at just fifty dollars each) to their existing speakers, thereby achieving smart-home functionality at a fraction of Apple’s cost.
Okay, okay, to be fair: Apple has decided to be a bit more speakerly than smartly.
Early Apple advertising is hyping the HomePod as, above and beyond all else, a music speaker, emphasizing in its messaging, again, the quality of the stereophonics, the technology all spatially aware, the Pods tight, tight ties with, its embeddedness in, Apple Music.
Apple, have you by chance heard of Sonos One?
On the other hand, the smart shoppers described in the two paragraphs just above may very well have purchased the Sonos One, voice control and audio of the highest magnitude at only two hundred dollars. Sonos works with Amazon’s Alexa, while delivering nice compatibility with Apple Music.
Time for some features, those to be shipped and perhaps some arriving in later iterations.
Apple HomePod Form
The Hughes Brothers mean, well, we just don’t know right now, do we? As we warned above, please give Apple another chance if the announced features of 2017 do not for the moment, you know, happen.
· A cylindrical design, just like Home and Echo and Sonos – a bit, oh, squattier than the competition
· Covered in what Apple calls a “seamless 3D mesh fabric,” with but enough space at the top of the cylinder for a touch-sensitive display used to control the speaker – and to show forth that familiar Siri waveform when your personal assistant, that Siri girl, is hard at work on your behalf
· Available in two old Apple standby colors: white and the Huntington-Beachesque space grey.
· Back, again and again, to sound quality: a four-inch upward-facing woofer and seven beam-forming tweeters, each with its own amplifier, to drive what Apple calls a “breakthrough home speaker.”
· The above feature now bringing automatic bass equalization and dynamic audio modeling, all powered by an A8 chip – the same processor that powers the iPhone 6 and iPad mini 4 – whew, oh whew
· More about the A8 chip: its ability to scan ambient space, to optimize audio output factoring in the size and shape of the space, and any obstacles therein
· Built to make full, rich, diverse use of Apple Music – taking requests for specific songs or albums or artists, of course, but also ready to identify names and dates and places: Poison’s drummer, for example, or Kendrick Lamar’s birthday, or Elton John’s Colorado studio
Apple HomePod Siri
· Full Siri functionality – the already expectable stuff – plus service as a hub for every Apple-friendly smart appliance in your home
Apple will still be playing catch-up, even after launch.
At announcement, Apple made much about multi-room use and support, about wide and true stereo separation. Two considerations here: first, these features will not operate at launch, waiting on a software update to come; second, to take advantage of those features, you’ll be buying more than one HomePod, that’s for sure. Three-hundred-plus-bucks all over again.
The Hughes Brothers will not be running out to be among the first in town with a HomePad.
Who are some guys from Kansas, and our sister, to be anything less than effusive about the Apple monolith? Who indeed?
Well, for starters, some down-to-earth guys with better uses for our money.
We’ll be back in touch soon.