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Final week was a busy one for Apple. On Tuesday we acquired new chips, the Mac mini and the MacBook Professional, and Wednesday introduced the stunning return of the full-size HomePod, with the same design to the unique mannequin and the identical $299 price ticket, roughly two years later. it was discontinued.
And if you dig into it, issues get even weirder. The brand new HomePod is not a carbon copy of the unique mannequin, however in refined, complicated ways in which will not be as noticeable to anybody shopping for one. Listed here are 5 information concerning the new HomePod which have us scratching our heads:
Apple redesigned it to look the identical
At first look (and second and third), the second technology HomePod seems to be an identical to the unique mannequin. It has the identical round physique, mesh exterior, and display, however there are slight variations. For one, it is 4mm shorter and 200 grams lighter. The display on the high is now barely recessed, and the display is bigger and simpler to see. The “seamless mesh material” of the unique mannequin is now “acoustically clear mesh material” and stretches a bit extra on high. There is a new Midnight shade that appears rather a lot like a barely darker shade of House Gray. Not one of the modifications are going to make a lot of a visible distinction until you are evaluating a brand new one and an outdated one aspect by aspect, although, so it appears odd that Apple went to the difficulty of redesigning the HomePod so small.
You possibly can’t create a stereo pair with a 1st technology HomePod
Probably the greatest options of the HomePod is its means to create a stereo pair that “reproduces every channel in excellent concord, making a wider and extra immersive soundstage than conventional stereo audio system.” It is not a brand new characteristic, however there is a catch: You possibly can’t pair a brand new HomePod with an outdated one. For a stereo pair to work, you may want two of the identical HomePods: a first-gen with a first-gen; mini with a mini; 2nd technology with a 2nd technology. It makes logical sense for the reason that two have totally different specs, however it will have been good for Apple to discover a strategy to make the 2 work nicely collectively.
Makes use of an Apple Watch chip as an alternative of an iPhone one
The unique HomePod used Apple’s A8 processor, which had debuted within the iPhone 6 just a few years earlier, as “the brains behind superior audio improvements.” When the HomePod mini arrived just a few years later, Apple used the S5 chip from an Apple Watch Collection 5 to “obtain nice sound in such a compact design.” The second-generation HomePod additionally makes use of an Apple Watch chip, the S7 processor in Apple Watch Collection 7, “to ship much more superior computational audio.” That is all nicely and good, but it surely’s exhausting to not assume that an A12 or A13 would supply a little bit of future proofing.
It nonetheless has a inbuilt energy wire.
One of many largest shortcomings of the unique HomePod was the built-in energy cable, primarily as a result of individuals naturally tried to unplug it and generally ended up ruining their audio system. Apple could have modified the connector to stop that from occurring, however based mostly on the images, the HomePod nonetheless has the identical energy wire completely connected to the again of the gadget. A transfer to a magnetic connector just like the 24-inch iMac would have been a pleasant enchancment.
Helps Wi-Fi slower than iPhone 6
It is reasonably unusual that the brand new HomePod nonetheless has Bluetooth 5 as an alternative of 5.3 (as discovered on new Macs and iPhones), but it surely really has slower Wi-Fi than the unique mannequin. In line with the technical specs, the primary HomePod supported 802.11ac, higher referred to as Wi-Fi 5, whereas the newer HomePod makes use of Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n). Perhaps it is an excessive amount of to ask for Wi-Fi 6E when the brand new iPhones do not even help it, however we’re stunned to see the brand new HomePod use a Wi-Fi commonplace as outdated because the iPhone 4.
The audio specs appear to be inferior.
Here is the weirder factor: Primarily based on audio specs, the brand new HomePod is not practically nearly as good as the unique mannequin. Whereas it absolutely “delivers next-level acoustics,” as Apple claims, a fast comparability of the tech specs reveals two much less horn-loaded tweeters (5 vs. seven) and microphones (4 vs. six). In fact, all audio system and microphones will not be created equal, and audio processing counts for lots. We’re certain Apple will get equal or higher audio with fewer audio system and microphones, but it surely’s bizarre that Apple did not really say the HomePod 2 is best, and even weirder that the outdated HomePod is seemingly superior to the brand new one on paper. .
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