Apple HomePod Mini assessment: This $99 Siri good speaker will promote like hotcakes


The HomePod Mini is Apple’s latest good speaker.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Apple’s long-awaited HomePod Mini is lastly right here. The smaller Siri-enabled good dwelling hub bridges an odd hole between good audio system, with a $99 (£99, AU$149) price ticket like Google’s Nest Audio and the Amazon Echo however in a small package deal just like the Nest Mini and Echo Dot. (This is how Apple’s HomePod Mini compares to the Amazon Echo and Nest Audio.) Apple unveiled its unique HomePod two years after Amazon dropped its first small good speaker. Cumbersome and costly, it did not sweep the market. Now, Apple is again at it with the HomePod Mini, a smaller, extra reasonably priced good speaker providing. 

In brief, in the event you like Apple — and if Siri is your good assistant of selection and HomeKit is your most well-liked good dwelling hub — you are going to love Apple’s latest good speaker. In the event you’re already residing with an iPhone, Apple TV or unique HomePod the Mini is sensible as your subsequent small good speaker. If not, properly, we now have a couple of extra concepts on learn how to spend that $99. 

Learn extra: HomePod vs. HomePod Mini: Which Apple speaker is greatest?

LikeIt sounds greatIt’s smallIt’s beneath $100

Do not LikeSiri nonetheless is not one of the best assistantHomeKit wants extra suitable accessoriesOther small good audio system are $50 or much less

Design

The HomePod Mini is small and spherical like its rivals. It is wrapped in an acoustics-friendly mesh material, and is available in white or house grey. The contact management pad with LED indicators is sort of similar to the unique HomePod.

In brief, Apple did not wow me with a rethinking of the small good speaker. Nevertheless, the HomePod Mini is handsome. It is adorably apple-shaped and predictably modern. It matches the Apple aesthetic and at three.three inches, the HomePod Mini is so small it hides itself simply in your bookshelf, desk or kitchen counter.

The HomePod Mini subsequent to the unique HomePod.

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One word: the material on the speaker and the spherical form are designed to reinforce audio high quality. I can not show that it does, however the HomePod Mini actually would not sound prefer it’s being muffled or hindered by any design options.  

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Apple HomePod Mini is the small good speaker for Siri

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Options

We have reached some extent within the good speaker timeline the place there is a normal expectation of what good audio system can do. If I mentioned, “Nicely, it does all the fundamental good speaker stuff,” you’d just about know what I meant. Climate, commute instances, normal information questions, making calls and taking part in music are all commonplace fare for good audio system from each model.

That is the story right here. The HomePod Mini does the Siri issues we have come to anticipate. Options are software-based and up to date as Apple sees match on each the HomePod and HomePod Mini. I will define among the options I examined on the HomePod Mini. A few of these are additionally coming (or already current) on the bigger HomePod. 

The HomePod Mini is small and modern.

Chris Monroe/CNET
Intercom

Apple’s new Intercom function catches as much as Google’s Broadcast and Amazon’s Drop In capabilities. On the HomePod or HomePod Mini, you may ship a voice message to different Apple gadgets in your house. Different customers can ship a voice reply again by saying, “Hey, Siri, reply…”

Intercom labored rapidly in my testing. You may select to show off Intercom within the House app settings for every machine. You too can choose when to obtain notifications. Your choices are “By no means,” “Once I’m dwelling” or “Anyplace.” Nice information for fogeys and horrible information for teenagers — Intercom can ship voice messages to all of the iPhones‌, ‌iPads‌, Apple Watches ‌and AirPods within the household. (That is nonetheless not almost as unhealthy as when your father may walkie-talkie squawk you in your Nextel in 2005.) 

Handoff transfers sound out of your cellphone to your HomePod Mini and again once more.

Chris Monroe/CNET
Handoff

Sending audio out of your iPhone to your good speaker and again once more is straightforward with Apple’s handoff function. It really works with HomePod or HomePod Mini when your machine has Bluetooth turned on and is on the identical Wi-Fi community as your good dwelling audio system.

Hover the cellphone near the speaker and you will really feel haptic suggestions and see a notification seem to let the audio is transferring to the HomePod. Once you’re able to put the audio again in your cellphone, the method works in reverse. 

This is likely to be my favourite HomePod Mini function. It is easy, and it really works with out tapping or asking Siri to do something. Because of the HomePod Mini’s U1 extremely wideband chip, handoff will get higher in future updates with improved visuals, haptic suggestions and audio results.

Stereo pairing

You may pair two HomePod Minis collectively for stereo sound. I examined this with a third-generation Apple TV, and a nature documentary crammed with scurrying animals and majestic theme music. Left and proper channel separation is straightforward to arrange whereas creating the speaker pair and it really works properly. 

Two HomePod Minis could be paired for stereo sound.

Chris Monroe/CNET

This is not an Apple-only function. Google and Amazon good audio system can do that, too. I actually loved the sound and channel separation of two Nest Audio audio system once we examined them earlier this yr. Whereas two HomePod Minis may not compete with a high-end surround-sound system, they’re actually an improve out of your TV’s inventory speaker, particularly in the event you can place them strategically in your leisure house to make the most of that channel separation.  

Audio high quality

Apple packed loads of audio energy right into a small speaker. It is loud sufficient to fill a room with sound. Bass, mids and treble are all distinct and simple to detect. In comparison with the most recent Echo Dot and Nest Mini, the HomePod Mini is clearer and fewer distorted. 

Evaluating the sound between the HomePod Mini and different $100 good audio system is a little bit of an unfair combat. Clearly a much bigger speaker just like the Echo or Nest Audio will ship larger sound. Whereas the HomePod Mini is certainly loud for its measurement, the comparability in audio continues to be a lot nearer to the Nest Mini or Echo Dot. Nevertheless, these audio system normally price lower than $50. 

From left: Amazon Echo Dot (2020), Nest Mini, HomePod Mini.

Chris Monroe/CNET

In the case of pure quantity, the Echo Dot was the loudest in our exams, however at full quantity it additionally generated sufficient distortion to distract from the listening expertise. The Nest Mini is not as loud, and it would not have the identical distortion points, however it lacks highly effective bass.

In the meantime the HomePod Mini hits the candy spot. It does a great job of balancing audio. You continue to get loads of bass with out sacrificing readability. I even discovered myself noticing components in songs I hadn’t observed earlier than because of its clear sound separation. 

In the event you’re actually into music, likelihood is you are not betting your listening expertise on any of those pint-size audio system. You would be proper to maneuver alongside. To your identical $100, you may get higher sound from the Nest Audio and Echo. In the event you should have an Apple speaker, and should have top-notch sound, it is likely to be prudent to search for a deal on the $300 unique HomePod.

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House candy HomeKit

The HomePod Mini, just like the bigger mannequin, Apple TV and iPad, is a House hub. Meaning you can arrange a complete Siri-controlled good dwelling with the assistance of this little speaker. The query is — do you need to?

Arlo Professional and Professional 2 cameras work with Apple HomeKit. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

HomeKit nonetheless provides the fewest suitable good dwelling merchandise in contrast with Google and Amazon. Your choices for cameras, thermostats and good locks are restricted. There are no good show choices except your iPad can serve the aim.

In the event you’re into DIY good dwelling experimentation, you may create workaround with plugins from Homebridge, a server you may run on your property community that bridges non-HomeKit gadgets to the iOS HomeKit API. That resolution is not going to be snug for everybody, however it does exist. 

Siri additionally is not probably the most intuitive, smartest or most private voice assistant. In our HomePod Mini testing there have been nonetheless normal information questions that Siri did not perceive or could not reply.

This is a current, however admittedly trivial instance. I requested all three assistants, “Who performs Batman?” Siri’s response was, “Sorry, I can not enable you with that, however in the event you inform me the title of the film or television present, I can lookup the forged for you.”

In the meantime, Alexa solely supplied up Ben Affleck, and Google knowledgeable me, “Batman has been performed by 51 actors. Listed below are the primary three; Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck.” Certain, I need not know the chronological checklist of Batmen in my each day life, however in the event you’re attempting to settle a household argument, these kind of smarts matter.  

For anybody who’s hung out with Siri on their iPhone or Apple TV through the years, these shortcomings may not flip you off. Maybe you’ve got vowed to stay with, love and cherish Siri as your voice assistant, character flaws and all. In that case, keep on. Add a HomePod Mini or two to your life and luxuriate in nice sound with the Siri you already know. 

HomePod Mini is Apple’s reasonably priced good speaker for nearly everybody.

Chris Monroe/CNET
Conclusion

In the event you’re an Apple fan, you are going to love this $99 good speaker. It is as low-cost as Apple merchandise will probably ever be. It sounds nice, seems good and delivers the good speaker performance we have all come to anticipate because of its rivals. When you have an iPhone and an Apple TV, it is a no brainer to go the HomePod Mini route for establishing your good dwelling. 

It is not for everybody, although. In the event you’re an Android cellphone consumer, the HomePod Mini will not invite you into HomeKit. That is OK, as a result of you will have a plethora of extra reasonably priced choices to select from. Spend the identical $100 and get two (and even three if a sale is occurring) Echo Dots or Nest Minis. Pair them in stereo sound, join 1000’s of suitable gadgets to them and luxuriate in. You could possibly additionally splurge on the Nest Audio or Amazon Echo for larger, higher sound in a single speaker. 

In the event you’re an iPhone consumer, however you haven’t any different Apple gadgets, your soul-searching might be a bit extra difficult. You will want to contemplate what good dwelling gadgets you really need in your house and whether or not or not Siri can help them. Google and Alexa good dwelling apps work properly on iPhones, so you’ve got received three succesful suitors on the lookout for the keys to your good dwelling. 

The excellent news right here is that there’s lastly an reasonably priced Apple choice for HomeKit and Siri fanatics. The HomePod Mini is as on-par as Apple desires to make it with Google and Amazon’s choices, and I would suggest it to anybody invested within the Apple universe. 



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