Do you like wine? How do you know the wine you buy is a good wine? Price? Recommendation? Can you tell the difference between wine from a cardboard box of wine bought at Walmart to something more expensive– over $100 a bottle?
I’ll be honest. I like wine. I can tell the difference between wines, but I cannot tell which wines are expensive and which are dirt cheap. Most people I know have similar problems in a blind wine taste competition.
What about speakers? What about Apple’s HomePod?
I know enough about the basics of argumentation and debate– and life on the interwebs– that one can easily argue multiple sides of the same issue, and that means product reviews can be just as biased.
Kirk McElhearn on speakers:
The HomePod costs $100 more than the Sonos One, which is a comparable, and some would say better speaker. (I think the Sonos One sounds better than the HomePod.)
I’ve had both. I think HomePod sounds better. Not much. But better. And it does more and blends into Apple’s ecosystem, which allows it to continue to grow in value and usability.
What’s wrong with HomePod? Again, perspective is easy; negative or positive.
The HomePod doesn’t have a clear use. Is it a Siri device, or is it speaker that provides “consistent high-definition sound?”
Originally, it was not Siri, it was beautiful sound.
Hey, we’re talking about technology gadgets that have multiple use case scenarios. What’s the clear use of iPhone? Watch?
The HomePod doesn’t sound that good. Don’t get me wrong: it sounds fine, but not good enough. It’s better than pretty many Bluetooth speakers, but it doesn’t sound as good as it should for the price. It has a default sound signature that is very bass-heavy, which is not to everyone’s taste.
Bass is in the ears of the listener. I’ve had multiple Sonos speakers and they sound heavier on bass to me, but at least they can be adjusted via equalizer settings.
The HomePod’s fancy technology is wasted. Apple touts the HomePod’s ability to adapt to any location. “Equipped with spatial awareness, HomePod automatically tunes itself to give you optimal sound — wherever it’s placed.” This may be true, but it’s a mono speaker; the only adjustments it’s going to make are to the tone of the music, and, perhaps, to the output of the various tweeters (there are seven, in a circle).
If you use it, it’s not wasted. HomePod mono sounds fine, but stereo sounds awesome; highly recommended if you enjoy listening to almost any kind of music.
To be fair, McElhearn makes some good points about how Apple designed and positioned HomePod, and what influence former design honcho Jony Ive had– the guy was far more into form over function and it shows, so look for better user friendly designs from Apple in the future.
In any case, the market decides for products like this. The HomePod just seems like it wasn’t thought out for real-world usage. It has powerful technology, which is wasted, and its price is way above what people want to pay.
Fortunately, Apple has the ability to adapt products and make adjustments as needed, and, of course, it is much easier to reduce price to compete against Google, Amazon, et al, than it is to raise prices to make a profit.