Apple HomePod is ideal in its own ecosystem
There was a surprise at the beginning of the year with the new generation HomePod from Apple. We spent a few days with it and here’s what we think.
With the world’s eyes on the new Mac mini powered by the M2 and M2 Pro processors, Apple took the opportunity to revive a product we thought was doomed to be forgotten. Here is the second generation of HomePod after the first generation was abandoned in 2021 in the midst of Covid. Although its younger brother, the HomePod mini, was launched under 100 euros, the HomePod is more ambitious with a price of 349 euros. Also, we tested it alone and in a duo with another HomePod, and here’s what we thought
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♬ original sound – Journal du Geek
On the design side, we’ll keep it simple, as Apple simply chose to carry over the design of the 1st generation. Therefore we find similar size and similar weight. Plus, speaking of weight, the HomePod is still 2.3kg, which is a nice baby, and we’re far from the empty corpses of some.
As expected from an Apple product, the finish is successful and we are dealing with a quality product. You only need to look at the mesh fabric that surrounds the speaker to understand the difference With its competitors in Sonos, Google or Amazon. If we find the cylindrical shape of the first generation, at the top of the speaker we also find the main controls of the speaker and a small LED band, which is great for visual feedback when using Siri. By the way, this watch face is taken from the HomePod mini.
Available in two colors (white and midnight), the power cord no longer attaches to the speaker like it did on the 1st generation HomePod or HomePod mini. Not to complain, some may find the power cable relatively short, only 1.5m. It will all depend on your setup.
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As a reminder, and as with the HomePod mini, the surface above the speaker is touch-sensitive and obviously allows you to control the volume. LED lighting is activated when the speaker is in use (white effect for music, color mixing effect for Siri). We also find the same controls as on the AirPods (one button to start / stop the music, two to go to the next track, three to return). Nothing very original in itself.
On the other hand, there is no physical button to mute the HomePod microphone, but according to Apple, the microphone only registers when you start the Siri command, but above all, the request is helped by a random ID, not your Apple ID. Likewise, there’s no Bluetooth streaming, no AirPlay or anything, and above all, there’s no input, so it’s impossible to connect an external audio source.
Easy setup and installation
What’s simple with Apple is that you know everything will be as simple as possible from an iPhone or iPad. Also, once HomePod is connected, you just need to bring your iPhone closer to the speaker to automatically recognize it and start the setup process. You just need to follow the steps and after 5 minutes everything is installed.
The same goes for a second HomePod if you want to set up two to amplify the audio signal in the room. Once a second HomePod is connected, iPhone will recognize and offer the option to pair it with another HomePod of the same generation during setup. Comfortable.
But that’s not all, if you are lucky enough to have an Apple TV 4K, the latter can serve as an eARC hub and therefore have the ability to stream any content connected to the TV connected to the HomePod on the HomePod.”Apple TV 4K , a less like a soundbar. Again, practical.
But what still impresses us is the room recognition technology, which will detect the reflection of sound waves to map the room and optimize the sound according to the room and the placement of the HomePods.
With a price position of around 350 euros, we are clearly not near an entry-level speaker. At this price, we have the right to expect a speaker that can be the main speaker in a room. And for once, without even going into technical details, it is necessary to admit that Apple is not wrong. We’ve already been impressed with the sound that the HomePod mini offers, and it’s no surprise that the HomePod also delivers great sound.
In absolute terms, this is not new, and it was already the case in the first generation, but in this new version, the bass is still present, but less intrusive than in the first generation. Moreover, sometimes we get the impression that there is too much bass, so we have to cut the cut, especially in the evening. It’s even more impressive that someone who doesn’t know what we’re trying to be sure that there’s a subwoofer. The highs and mids are always recorded well with a good portion of the vocals.
So, focusing on sounds, our biggest surprise was with movies and TV series, especially when the sound source offers interesting sounds like Dolby Atmos. If there is a lack of sound with one HomePod in a very large room, the lack of sound disappears completely when you have two. With two HomePods, we didn’t even think we needed a soundbar anymore. Yes, since two HomePods are 700 euros, the price of a quality soundbar from competitors. For example, Sonos has a budget of 1,000 euros for Beam and Sub mini. All of this suggests that if you don’t have bulky pieces and you’re into Apple, the HomePod is the more affordable option.
Siri, Matter, UWB, etc.
As you can imagine, Apple continues to promote its home voice assistant Siri. For some time, the personal assistant continues to improve, even if it lags behind its direct competitors, which are Google Assistant or Alexa. This may still be one of the HomePod’s major flaws, depending on what the user is looking for. Even though Siri lags behind its competitors, Siri is fast in execution and still handles related homework very well.
Speaking of connected homes, here we are in 2023, and as we already know, Apple supports Matter. So it’s no surprise that the new HomePod could become the hub for all Matter products. To date, we’ve only gotten a simple power outlet on Eve, and we’ll wait for others to gauge the range of a HomePod-based setup to control its Matter-connected objects. Likewise, Apple has sold us voice recognition, but not yet, we’ll have to wait until spring. Also, we prefer to schedule you in the spring for the whole Connected Home part.
And finally, for intimates, there are very useful little features such as UWB or Ultra Wide Band, which allows the user to “transmit” their music from the iPhone to the HomePod(s). Comfortable. Similarly, with settings and scenarios we can define, for example, we can define to stop all HomePods as soon as we leave the house. The HomePod is obviously AirPlay compatible, so you can play audio from your Mac, iPad or iPhone directly to the HomePod, and the advantage is that the audio is synced to a video, for example. Avoid undulating streams. I tried a live soccer match from Prime Video and the sound was delayed!
HomePod at the best price Base price: €349
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