HomePod Mini review: For Apple fans, this $99 smart speaker is a no-brainer

Apple’s latest system, the HomePod Mini, will pass on sale on November 16. Over the next days, the web will probably be awash in reviews on Apple’s bulbous system, dissecting its audio functions to the nth stage. However individuals who only have a look at the HomePod Mini from an audiophile’s point of view are passing over what makes the system so interesting.

I say that from the point of view of getting had two HomePod Minis in my space for slightly over per week now. Even though the HomePod Mini isn’t the primary clever speaker I’ve attempted—or the primary wi-fi speaker I’ve owned—it’s the most efficient one I’ve used. And even supposing it’s a latecomer in an international full of clever audio system from Amazon and Google, it’s a compelling product for someone who already lives in Apple’s ecosystem.

Why that’s the case comes down to 3 elements:

1. Tiny speaker, giant sound

In the case of audio, I don’t care concerning the minutia of debating a speaker’s “bass resonance” or whether or not it has “blank tones” or “crisp prime frequencies.” Subject of truth, that’s probably the most causes I by no means were given an unique HomePod. The chunky, small trashcan-size $299 HomePod sounds nice—indubitably about it. However its sound high quality isn’t one thing my ears are fine-tuned sufficient to comprehend each day. That’s why I’ve at all times opted for inexpensive, sub-$100 audio system. They’ve at all times completed the activity simply effective for me.

That’s the place Apple’s new HomePod Mini is available in. At most effective $99 and three.three inches tall, it’s minuscule in each worth and peak in comparison to the unique HomePod (three.three inches is slightly shorter than a espresso mug, and the entire system is concerning the length of a softball). But regardless of its a lot cheaper price and smaller length, the HomePod Mini sounds out of the ordinary in comparison to different in a similar way priced audio system I’ve used. Even with the amount at most effective 40%, the HomePod Mini’s sounds replenish my massive front room richly and calmly.

Certainly, the sound blew me away after I first began streaming tunes. It didn’t sound a ways off from the standard you listen from the unique HomePod, but it sounded two times as excellent to my ears to the in a similar way sized sub-$150 wi-fi audio system I’m used to listening to. After being attentive to the HomePod Mini for just a few days, after I went again to my outdated JBL wi-fi audio system—or even the audio system on my 16″ MacBook Professional (which might be unbelievable audio system for a pc)—each now appear tinny compared to the standard of the sound from the HomePod Mini.

But the terrific audio advantages of the HomePod Mini don’t forestall with steaming track. Apple has designed the HomePod Mini to paintings without problems as supplemental audio system for Apple TV homeowners. In the event you personal an Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K, you’ll use two HomePod Minis with the system to make a stereo pair, which makes the flicks and presentations you watch thru your Apple TV sound next-level superb. In case you have an Apple TV and depend only for your TV’s audio system for output, a couple of HomePod Minis are vital accent. With the HomePod Minis operating as a stereo pair, the flicks I watch have by no means sounded higher.

2. Siri is abruptly a really great tool

After I at the start won the HomePod Minis, I used to be positive I’d be the usage of them most commonly for being attentive to track and embellishing my Apple TV enjoy. But inside of a couple of days, I quickly discovered I used to be the usage of Siri greater than ever—extra during the last week than previously 5 years. And right here’s why: If you find yourself within the convenience and privateness of your home, you don’t really feel self-conscious about enticing with Apple’s voice assistant like you’re when the usage of it by way of your iPhone on a crowded side road or within the place of work. Thus, the HomePod Mini makes Siri a extra precious software than it’s for your iPhone.

It additionally doesn’t harm that Siri at the HomePod Mini appears to be a lot better at spotting my requests and returning the proper effects than Siri at the iPhone ever has been. Possibly that has one thing to do with the HomePod Mini in most cases being in a extra quiet setting: your front room as a substitute of the road. It additionally most likely has so much to do with the HomePod Mini’s microphone design.

As the times went on, I realized I didn’t want to shout my Siri requests to verify they have been heard.

I gained’t get into the technicalities of the HomePod Mini microphones, however it has 4 of them. 3 are particularly designed with complicated sign processing functions that permit the HomePod Mini to hit upon “Hi there Siri” reliably regardless of the place you’re status within the room. The fourth microphone is devoted to echo cancellation, which is helping the HomePod Mini listen your request even supposing the room’s noisy—or if the HomePod Mini itself is taking part in track. As the times went on, I realized I didn’t want to shout my Siri requests to verify they have been heard. With the ability to use your herbal tone and talking quantity makes interacting with Siri at the HomePod Mini a lot more natural and herbal feeling than it does for your iPhone.

Whilst I do use the HomePod Mini’s Siri to keep an eye on track playback a lot of the time, now that it sort of feels so a lot more dependable, I’m additionally an increasing number of turning to Siri to invite it how my day seems (“What’s on my time table?”), and asking it to present me an replace on information, inventory marketplace, and climate. And for the ones of you who regularly lose your iPhone in your home—agree with me after I say a HomePod Mini generally is a lifesaver. Now when I will be able to’t in finding my iPhone, I simply ask the HomePod Mini, “Hi there Siri, the place’s my iPhone?” It robotically sends a noisy audio alert to my iPhone so I will be able to in finding it between the cushions.

These types of Siri instructions have labored flawlessly by way of the HomePod Mini for me, which in flip makes it really feel like Siri is in the end a really succesful AI—and now person who lives within your own home as a substitute of for your telephone. And talking of domestic . . .

three. It’s a smart-home command heart

I’ve by no means been a “clever domestic” roughly man. I’ve at all times puzzled, as an example, why I’d want the facility for my telephone to activate my lamp when I will be able to simply turn the transfer at the wall. I imply, sufficient of my gadgets have already got far flung controls—why would I need to flip my telephone into but any other glorified far flung?

Nonetheless, I arrange a Nanoleaf Necessities lightbulb to check out out with the HomePod Mini. And boy, have I modified my music about clever domestic tech since. The HomePod Mini makes clever domestic tech really feel “clever” for the primary time. And it’s as a result of I now not want to use my iPhone as a far flung to keep an eye on stated clever tech. The HomePod Mini is designed to paintings as a keep an eye on heart for each system on your clever domestic—permitting you to keep an eye on the entirety, reliably, with simply your voice. It seems like magic now after I say, “Hi there Siri, flip at the gentle” and it comes on identical to that—no button-pressing wanted. I’ve since long past out and purchased more than one clever plugs to turn out to be my different lamps into clever domestic gadgets, they usually all paintings superbly with the HomePod Mini.

HomePod Mini has even allowed me to ditch any other far flung—the only for my tv. As a result of each the HomePod Mini and Apple TV are built-in with Apple’s HomeKit clever domestic platform, once you flip for your HomePod Mini it detects your Apple TV as a sensible system. Now I will be able to merely say “Hi there Siri, flip at the TV” when I am getting domestic, and each the Apple TV set-top field and the tv it’s hooked up to activate like that—no far flung wanted.

Agree with me: Most of the people it will likely be drawn to the HomePod Mini for its track options—however as soon as they are trying it with one clever domestic accent, they’ll need to package out their domestic with extra. Because of the HomePod Mini’s dependable Siri and its zero-setup HomeKit integration, the HomePod Mini will most likely do extra for the adoption of clever domestic tech than it is going to do for the development of streaming track products and services.

So, will have to you get a HomePod Mini?

Earlier than the HomePod Mini, Apple customers confronted a stiff access rate in the event that they sought after a sensible domestic speaker that slotted without problems into the corporate’s ecosystem of gadgets and products and services. For plenty of, the $299 worth of the unique HomePod was once (and nonetheless is) simply an excessive amount of cash—particularly for other folks like me who don’t want the most efficient imaginable audio machine in a sensible speaker. That prime access worth is why such a lot of Apple customers have became to Amazon or Google for clever audio system.

Apple will have simply selected to promote the HomePod Mini for $149 and even $179.

Because of the brand new HomePod Mini, that’s all modified. In the event you’re already in Apple’s ecosystem and need to department out into clever audio system, the HomePod Mini is now the clever speaker to get. But even so the options I’ve discussed already, it sports activities a ton of alternative cool functions, like integration with Apple’s CarPlay, FaceTime Audio calls, the brand new cross-device Intercom messaging machine, plus give a boost to for third-party streaming products and services.

Apple will have simply selected to promote the HomePod Mini for $149 and even $179. For the entirety it does—and the standard at which it does it—it might nonetheless be price it at the ones upper worth issues. But the truth that Apple priced the HomePod Mini at most effective $99 finds so much about the place the corporate sees this system slotting into customers’ lives: no longer simply of their domestic, however in each room in their domestic. Certainly, at simply $99 apiece, the HomePod Mini is a compelling purchase no longer simply in your front room, however for the kitchen, basement, and each bed room in your house. A community of HomePod Minis throughout your own home implies that it doesn’t matter what room you’re in, you’re most effective only a spoken command clear of controlling an array of items in your house, from lighting to track to messages and extra.

Given all this, I’m assured the HomePod Mini will probably be one in every of this season’s hottest vacation items—and some of the well-liked equipment Apple has ever made.

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