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Apple HomePod Initial Review - Surprisingly GOOD!

This is HomePod. So, I've got a chance to spend the last of couple days with this, a lot of thoughts, a lot of impressions. The first of which being, it is way smaller than you might think. Out of the box, there's not a whole lot going on. You get the HomePod itself, a quick start guide, and a singular Apple sticker. I will say though, sometimes it's the attention to detail, the small things that really make a difference. The fabric on the power cord matches the HomePod, and that's kind of cool.
Apple HomePod Initial Review - Surprisingly GOOD!

Now setting up the HomePod is one of the nicer parts of the experience. If you've ever used AirPod, it's kind of similar to that, where you stick your phone out, a little HomePod icon pops up, you connect, you're never diving through any menus, you let it do its thing, and shortly thereafter you are good to go.

Also, first impressions, the Siri animation towards the top of the HomePod, which you will see throughout this video, are really well done. I think it rounds out the entire experience. Now when that Siri animation isn't engaged, you can use the top of HomePod for touch controls. Single tap to play a song, or single tap to pause a song. Double tap to go next song, triple tap to go previous song. Press and hold will activate Siri, and then you do, of course, have your volume up and volume down.

So from there I'm going to jump into sound quality, and I know some people aren't going to want to hear this, but the HomePod sounds really freaking good. Now, I'm not going to say it's this life changing, breathtaking, magical experience, but when you see the size of HomePod and then you hear the sound that comes out of it. To me what stands out is not only the amount of low end, but the quality of low end that comes out of HomePod. When you hear how much bass comes out of a speaker this size, that by itself is really surprising, but what's more impressive is no matter how loud you turn this up, and believe me, it gets really loud. It still doesn't break up or distort.

Now design-wise, HomePod as a speaker is kind of unique. For starters, the woofer, which is responsible for that low end, you would think, would be placed towards the bottom, but with the HomePod, it is actually placed towards the top. Then from there, the tweeters, which normally you would think would be placed towards the top, those are on the bottom. You have a total of six microphones surrounding HomePod and lastly, Apple's A8 chip, which is doing the processing, it's listening to the environment, adapting to real-time, and while things may seem a little unorthodox, whatever they're doing seems to be working.

Now HomePod was geared to work first and foremost with Apple Music and it does really well. Still, was kind of a good example of how well the microphones work within a HomePod? One, the music was really loud, and two, I'm actually talking away from HomePod facing' this way and it still picked up my voice really well.

Now initially I was under the impression that if you use Spotify, you're kind of out of luck with HomePod. That it was really only geared for Apple Music, but not only can you AirPlay from Spotify, which I'll do now. You can actually use the voice controls to change everything, like changing to next track. Well, you definitely want to use Apple Music to get the most out of HomePod. If you do use Spotify, there's a lot you can do with it.

Next, one of the biggest reasons you might be interested in HomePod is HomeKit. So far, testing out HomePod with HomeKit has worked extremely well. Behind me, I have a couple of Philips Hue lights, and then a non-Philips light bulb right there. And what I love about it is the ability to control things individually or altogether. Now beyond that was kind of cool is the ability to group things together and create scenes. So imagine, you walk into your kitchen, you say, Hey Siri, good morning. It turns on your lights, opens your blinds, and starts your coffee. That is all possible.

Now one down side with HomePod is that if you're looking to buy a pair of these to combine them into stereo mode that will not work at large. That will come later this year with AirPlay 2. It is a free update, but it's still a little disappointing that it didn't happen at launch, because that was honestly one of the most enticing features of HomePod.

Now it's also worth mentioning that if you don't have AirPlay 2, you don't have multi-room control. So, if you wanted to have different HomePods in different rooms throughout your house, you got to wait until AirPlay 2 comes out for them to talk to each other. When it does come out and HomePods can talk to each other, you can play the same song throughout your house, or have independent control and play something in your kitchen that is completely different from your living room. But again, if that's something that you were looking forward to, that is not available here at launch.

Also, I did see some initial fear that Siri was going to be extremely limited with HomePod launch, but from what I can tell, you can send text, you can make calls, create reminders, and create notes. So as far as that goes, the really big drawback, again, is the lack of AirPlay 2, which enables stereo mode. Aside from that, those are my initial impressions on HomePods.

It's got a surprisingly great sound, it's loud, there's a ton of low end, and it works great with HomeKit. There are definitely some really, really important features that are missing at Pod launch. But overall, if you pick one up, I think you will dig this.


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