Last night, almost like an assassin, Apple dropped the HomePod in India for a cool price of Rs 19,900. There was no noise about it and with good reason, as the HomePod has been somewhat of an orphaned child amongst Apple’s galaxy of gadgets. It is the one product that’s sold in the least number of markets because of its dependence on Apple’s local customisation of services and well, Siri. However, after using the Siri enabled HomePod for more than two years I’d beg to differ. Most people have always looked at the HomePod as a rival to Amazon’s Echo or the Google Home. It is a different creature altogether. It is more about the sound than the smarts. It is an appliance that sits in either your bedroom or living room, but it doesn’t gawk or snoop on your conversations but is more a sound system and a hub that connects everything smart in your household through HomeKit.
- Of all the smart speakers in the market, the HomePod is by far the nicest sounding one of the lot. Heck, it is in a different league as it competes more with products from Bose or Harman and Kardon as it provides stupendous sound quality and that too a big bombastic one cutting across genres. If you care about the music, then this is the one to get, as long as you have Apple Music as a bare minimum.
- It is also a computational speaker as it is powered by Apple’s A8 processor which was at the heart of the iPhone 6. This very processor is powerful enough to give the HomePod its prodigious spatial awareness as it can adapt its sound to the acoustics of the room you’re in. Within minutes it can optimise the sound as per where it is placed.
- It works well with Apple’s gadgets which is a given, so it is the ultimate speaker to have if you use an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, then this is it. The HomePod becomes even more useful if you have an Apple TV as you can use it to be your sound system. If you have two, then there you have stereo over AirPlay. Last summer, when the cricket World Cup was on I had hooked the Apple TV to my projector and all matches were experienced via HotStar with the sound coming from two HomePods.
- One of the coolest things about the HomePod is that you can pair two of them to get stereo audio. Heck, you can even get 3 or 4 to get even more sound, though it doesn’t do Dolby 5.1 audio, regardless, this makes for a powerful sound system.
- Last but not least is the fact that it is a hub for everything that’s hooked up via HomeKit, so be it smart bulbs, smart switches, air purifiers or whatnot, this is one of the best utensils for such gadgetry.
And then there is the stuff with Siri which is an added benefit. It supports the hey Siri hot word and can control pretty much everything you’d expect it to, but it doesn’t do the cool stuff like allowing you to book an Uber or order food via Zomato — that’s the type of smarts you expect from Amazon’s Echo or the Google Home.