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HomePod mini review – big sound and big features from a tiny smart speaker

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  • VERDICT

The new Apple HomePod mini is tiny but mighty and offers remarkable sound when you play your music as well as incredible versatility as an intelligent assistant and to control your smart home devices.

The new Apple HomePod mini might be small in size but it’s big on sound and big on features and can also connect to and control your home’s smart devices.

The unit stands just 8.5 centimetres tall and its dwarfed by its big brother, the original HomePod.

But don’t let the small size fool you into thinking It lacks power.

Quite the opposite.

It provides q room filling 360-degree sound and all of your favourite music and playlists. podcasts and audiobooks are just a voice command away.

On the design side, HomePod mini has the same seamless mesh fabric coating as the original HomePod and a small light display on top.

Powered by Siri, HomePod mini is an extraordinary digital assistant should you need a question answered, to make a phone call, set a timer or an alarm or message the entire family at home with the new intercom feature.

One of the most popular uses for the HomePod mini will be listening to music and that’s pretty easy with by asking Siri to play individual songs, artists, genres and playlists.

Naturally it supports Apple Music and offers access to your entire library and playlists just by asking HomePod mini.

That also extends to podcasts, radio stations and other music services.

And boy does the HomePod mini sound great.

Under the hood is an acoustic waveguide that channels the sound down and fires it down out of the bottom of HomePod mini – the result is a stunning 360-degree sound.

Through the Apple-designed drivers and you force-cancelling passive radiators, HomePod mini also delivers satisfying bass and nice high frequencies.

Even at high volume the sound is remarkably clean.

What does most of the heavy lifting is the Apple-designed S5 chip which enables computational audio to apply tuning algorithms 180 times a second.

This optimises the sound, loudness and dynamic range depending on where the HomePod mini is positioned in the room.

Later this year Apple will add another feature to HomePod mini called Proximity Control which allows you to hand off music to and from your iPhone to the HomePod by holding them close to each other.

This feature is expected to be part of a firmware update in the near future.

HomePod mini can also be used as a home hub to take control of your smart devices and also set various scenarios to activate multiple smart devices at your command.

This is all done through the Homekit app where the HomePods are registered and located along with all the other smart devices in your home.

Each HomePod and device is given a location to make it easier to specify the device you’d like to control using Siri.

Products that can be controlled will include lighting, smart plugs, thermostats and even door locks and garage doors

For example, you can say “Hey Siri, turn on the bedroom light” or “lock the front door” or “make the temperature 22 degrees”.

In our review we also tried the new Nanoleaf A19 smart bulb which uses new thread technology – an alternative to Bluetooth and similar to a mesh network for a more reliable connection and responsiveness.

With our voice we were able to control the light, turn it on and off and even change the colour just by asking Siri.

This bulb also has adaptive lighting which means the light temperature can mirror the current time day to keep you focused and not interrupt your circadian rhythms.

The Homekit app is where you can combine several smart products to create a different scene.

You might want to be able to turn multiple lights off at once when you go to bed.

or turn all the lights on when you get home.

These devices can all be grouped together and triggered by a simple phrase like “Hey Siri, goodnight” or “Hey Siri – I’m home.

Like the larger HomePod, HomePod mini can answer all of your questions and provide information in an instant – all you need to do is ask Siri.

But one of our favourite features has to be intercom which allows you to make announcements to individual HomePods add Apple devices or to all of them at once.

And you can make those announcements through one of the HomePods or HomePod minis, through the Homekit app, via your iPhone and even through Apple Watch.

After a few seconds your voice is heard to the designated speakers so you can now easily announce when it’s time to go, when dinner’s ready or if someone has a visitor.

HomePod mini is available in space grey and will be priced at $149 and go on sale on November 16..

VERDICT

The new Apple HomePod mini is tiny but mighty and offers remarkable sound when you play your music as well as incredible versatility as an intelligent assistant and to control your smart home devices.