Apple “may not be the first to debut a new feature or product, but it almost always does it best,” Julian Chokkattu writes for Digital Trends. “Can the HomePod, Apple’s new smart speaker, live up to that expectation? We spent an hour with the speaker, and here are our first impressions.”

“Audio quality is beautifully warm, yet the bass is not overpowering, even though it was still quite rich. If you close your eyes, it’s easy to feel like you’re at a live performance. We could pick out the vocals and instruments clearly. The speaker allows each instrument to shine through; you can hear precise guitar plucks,” Chokkattu writes. “No, it doesn’t have that crisp sound you’d hear from very expensive high-end speakers, but then again, the HomePod doesn’t cost thousands yet still pushes brilliant sound quality out of a single, small enclosure.”

“What’s more impressive is how consistent the HomePod sounds wherever you are in the room,” Chokkattu writes. “Yes, the further away you are, the quieter it is, but not by much. It almost felt like the music was following our movement, and it consistently sounded great… We also got a taste of multi-room playback, where you will be able to play stereo music on more than one HomePod. Music easily filled a loud room, and it sounds brilliant. This feature is not included at launch, nor is the ability to pair two HomePods in stereo – both of these options will be included in a free software update later this year, as part of the upgrade to AirPlay 2.”

Apple's all-new HomePod

Apple’s all-new HomePod

“What is unique about the HomePod is Apple’s spotlight on privacy,” Chokkattu writes. “Siri is listening locally, and then any requests you make are encrypted before it reaches Apple. This data is also anonymized — through the same differential privacy method used on the iPhone — so the requests are not tied to an iCloud account. This is a strong advantage Apple holds over competitors like Amazon and Google if you’re worried about your privacy.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Did you get your pre-order(s) in, yet? Ours are in, with February 9th delivery – we can’t wait to set up our HomePods!

Hands on with Apple’s HomePod: Attractive, ultra-high-quality speaker, an excellent Siri ambassador – January 26, 2018
Apple’s HomePod, the iPod for your home – January 25, 2018
One hour with Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker – January 25, 2018
Apple’s iOS 11.3 beta delivers AirPlay 2 with multi-room playback – January 25, 2018
How Apple is positioning the HomePod and why – January 24, 2018
How I got talked into buying an Apple HomePod despite my reservations – January 24, 2018
Tim Cook says audio quality puts HomePod ahead of ‘squeaky-sounding’ competition – January 24, 2018
Apple’s HomePod arrives February 9th, available to order this Friday, January 26th – January 23, 2018
Apple delays HomePod release to early 2018 – November 17, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]