Enlarge / Apple’s HomePod is the most hyped-up home speaker to hit the market in a long time. (credit: Jeff Dunn)
What is this thing?
That, in essence, is the question most onlookers have asked about Apple’s HomePod speaker since its unveiling last summer.

The natural inclination is to compare it to smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. It’s a speaker with a talking assistant in it, the thinking goes. Apple just wants a piece of that growing pie.
But that doesn’t sit right.
Sure, Siri, the assistant at the heart of the speaker, can answer questions, set alarms, and turn off connected light bulbs.

But the HomePod costs $350, roughly three times as much as the base Echo and Home devices, it sounds miles better than both, and Apple isn’t nearly as concerned with assisting you through every part of your day and controlling everything in your home.

The HomePod is decidedly more “speaker” than “smart.”
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