Apple's HomePod gets a teardown: Two key takeaways

Andrew Hoyle  CNET

Apple's smart speaker, HomePod, will hit sales shelves on February 16, 2018.

Early on in the process, iFixit found that the HomePod is one of the more hard devices in existence to pry open. These songs are both largely acoustic, and I'd say that songs from this genre perform particularly well on the HomePod.

It's covered in a soft grill material that comes in Space Gray or White. While the device has been praised for its excellent sound quality, it's been criticized for locking users into Apple's ecosystem - indeed, for the time being, you can only set the smart speaker up if you already own an iOS 11-based device.

Jim Dalrymple, an Apple expert at Loop Insights, a tech news site, said he was "pleasantly surprised by how well the music in the room seemed to just kind of envelope you". Add a second Sonos One though, and the stereo separation is clear, plus the mid-range and high frequencies are more nuanced to me. The $449 HomePod is all of these things, and it drives me insane. Reviewers gave the HomePod audio a "Very Good" rating. But the HomePod played reasonably loudly in a midsized room.

Dalrymple claims the HomePod responded to his voice from at least 20 feet away.

After the HomePod is working, you are safe to delete the Music app if you really don't want to keep it around.

"I think Siri could be expanded". Siri also has a smoother, more human voice on the HomePod than it does on the iPhone and avoids repeating the entire inquiry back like Google Assistant and Alexa, making for a more organic experience.

Apple's HomePod has been well received by most critics so far, with audiophiles and regular people alike.

But it could do more. And via the Sonos App, owners can stream music from their service of choice-be it Spotify, Apple Music, internet radio or 80 other streaming services. Apple's warranty extension program costs $39 and drops the service price significantly, giving you up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a $39 fee.

Still, 30 million users is nothing to scoff at, and many of them are most likely looking for a way to get the most out of their music. Plus, everything syncs between the Apple Music you're enjoying on the HomePod and the version on your phone, so your preferences will carry over when you leave the house.

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