Apple Homepod, $349
Apple's long awaited, Siri-powered smart speaker is a gorgeous object – and an even better music player, featuring seven high-frequency drivers and a four-inch long-throw woofer. As a speaker, it is simply unbeatable – especially when compared to anything close to its price or size. And in classic Apple fashion, there is some serious tech hidden behind a seamless user experience: set your HomePod up in anywhere in any room, and it will automatically adapt itself to the acoustical environment. The downside to that simplicity is also classically Apple: it only works as a smart speaker with Apple Music (although you can also use it via Airplay as a regular wireless speaker with other services). It also requires an iPhone for setup and full functionality, and Siri is still a much less capable virtual assistant than Google and Amazon's versions.
Killer Function: The rich, crystalline, room-filling sound. Apple completely rethought the speaker, placing the seven horn tweeters in a ring around the bottom and a single beefy woofer firing upwards from the center of the unit. Its virtual assistant tech might lag behind the Sonos One's, but as a music player it is way smarter – it is essentially a powerful little computer dedicated to making music sound excellent. And privacy-minded fans will likely feel more comfortable in the hands of Apple – which is much more focused on the issue than any other major tech company – when it comes to a device that includes microphones that are always listening.
Bottom Line: If
you're already deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem, and care more about
sound quality than virtual assistant capability, HomePod is hard to beat.