Today (February 9), Apple’s first smart speaker, the HomePod, went on sale. So here are some thoughts after the initial unboxing.
You might have imagined that the HomePod is a relatively “small” device, and that’s not necessarily untrue, but it’s also pretty substantial in size, too. It’s bigger than the Google Home and the Amazon Echo, but it’s not anywhere near the size of the HomePod Max. It’s heavier than you might imagine, too. It’s not cumbersome, and it should still be easy enough to move around if need be, but it’s not the lightest smart speaker out there.
All that being said, I picked up the Space Gray HomePod, as you can tell from the picture above, and I can safely say I like the look of it. I went back and forth between the Space Gray and the White option, but I’m glad I went with this one. I was using the white-and-gray Google Home before this, and I always felt it just didn’t look all that appealing on the counter. The Space Gray HomePod stands out in all the right ways.
I will say that the Google Home’s unique design, with that slope, does make it really easy to see whether or not Google Assistant has been activated. I never really paid attention to it before, but now that I’ve got the HomePod, and the top of the smart speaker isn’t easily viewed from where I sit, I think I prefer Google’s implementation.
When you beckon Siri, though, and if you don’t say anything right away, the digital assistant will say things like, “Hmm,” or something similar, to make sure you know it’s waiting for a query of some kind, which is a nice touch.
Overall, the HomePod has a design that I like. Nothing spectacular by any means, but even the touch area on the top is really responsive, and watching the Siri waveform is pretty cool, too (when I can see it). It’s the small touches, but, as this is Apple we’re talking about, the small touches can usually equal something pretty great.
I’m going to keep this short, because most of the “first impressions” are just going to lead into areas where I’ll talk about in the review. I’m going to offer the full review in a couple of days, but then a few follow-up pieces as well. I’m a Spotify user who is going to subscribe to Apple Music (again) to test both, so I’ll give you my thoughts on that as well.
I will say this, though: Apple’s first effort into the smart speaker market is a win, at least after some very initial observations and usage. Did Apple set up some of its own roadblocks, in terms of its walled garden? Maybe. But as far as design and sound quality go, the HomePod is a home run. Let’s see if that remains the case after we dig into some “smart” features and start using Siri more.
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