There is no denying that personal of virtual home assistant are becoming popular these days. Whether it is due to laziness or just plain convenience, more and more virtual assistants are finding their way into people’s homes. Amazon has been at the forefront of virtual home assistant devices with the Echo. However, now, it is being challenged by Apple with the HomePod.
On the surface, what the HomePod is is a high-end speaker device with machine or artificial intelligence features. It makes use of Apple’s Siri app to perform voice commands with varying complexities. This is pretty much the same with the new Amazon Echo show. The only differences are, the Echo Show does have a display but does not have high-end audio features.
Amazon Echo Show details
The Amazon Echo Show is basically an upgrade of the existing Echo and Echo Dot devices. The Echo Show still operates on the same features, with a few new ones, that the original Echo uses.
The newest feature on the Echo Show is the video support and calling support. Users will be able to make video calls to other users who have the Amazon Echo Show. Apart from this, the new virtual assistant will be able to send or make audio calls to other Echo devices as well.
The 7-inch touch screen is paired with a 5-megapixel camera sensor at the front of the device. These two, obviously, are used for making video calls with another Echo Show user.
Apart from making video calls, the Echo Show, as the name implies can also display various information on its screen. For instance, a weather forecast can easily be displayed on the 7-inch screen of the Echo Show.
Running inside the Amazon Echo Show is Amazon’s very own personal digital assistant, Alexa. Alexa is similar to Apple’s Siri in that it is also voice operated and able to perform various functions like web searches and making appointments.
With respect to audio, I would say that the Echo Show is pretty decent with is dual stereophonic speakers. However, would be buyers should not expect the device to have superb audio frequency response like most of high-end speaker systems.
The Amazon Echo Show will be available later this month for $230.
Apple HomePod details
So far, Apple has been kind enough to provide a whole lot of information about the HomePod. For one, it is powered by an Apple A8 ARM chip. The same chip that powers an iPhone 6 and the fourth generation Apple TV. However, unlike the Amazon Echo Show, it does not a in-built display.
On the other hand, what it has is an array of seven speakers in addition to 4-inch subwoofer. These, in addition to six microphones for active noise cancelling features.
As to be expected from an Apple-made virtual assistant, the HomePod runs a version of the Siri app. Therefore, those familiar with the virtual digital assistant will find it easier to adjust with how Siri works in real life.
What Apple intends for the HomePod to be is to become the center of audio entertainment in homes. With its high-quality speakers and active sound shaping algorithm, the HomePod is destined to outgun most, if not all, of wireless speakers in the market.
Unfortunately, its steep price of $350 may prove to be quite prohibitive for some. Furthermore, anyone who wants a HomePod would have to wait until the end of the year before they could their hands on one.
The HomePod and the Amazon Echo Show do share a few similarities with each other. For one, they are both virtual assistant speakers build for the home. Secondly, they each have their own versions of a virtual assistant that are heavily supported by developers. And finally, they are both high-valued devices. There are other virtual home assistants in the market that are way cheaper than both the Amazon Echo Show and the Apple HomePod. In fact, the Echo Show’s predecessor, the Echo is priced at $140. Even cheaper is the Echo Dot which is priced at only $40. However, since the Echo and Echo dot are so 2016, we’ll leave the comparison to more recent devices.
Apart from performing web searches, both the Amazon Echo Show and the HomePod are capable of connecting to smart home devices. WiFi-connected lights, thermostats, cameras, and other devices can be controlled by both virtual home assistant speakers.
The pros and cons
The first advantage with the Amazon Echo Show is the price. It is obviously cheaper than the HomePod by a considerable amount. Another advantage is the video and audio calling features. This feature is pretty similar to Apple FaceTime app.
On the other hand, the HomePod is capable of giving out more faithful sound reproduction with its array of speakers. Unfortunately, its lack of display is somewhat viewed as a lapse in Apple’s judgement on the HomePod.
Personally, I would say that the HomePod is unreasonably priced. Chiefly because while the prospect of having superb sound quality at home is quite attractive to some, most people would still prefer high-end headphones. This is mainly because in this day and age, most people are finding themselves mobile. For that, they would not want to be carrying around the HomePod just so they can enjoy good sound quality. They have the headphones for that.
This feels like the main weakness of Apple’s speakers. In addition to this, not including a display on the device is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes Apple has done on the HomePod. For $350, anyone would be expecting a bit more from a speaker that Apple sells.
The truth of the matter is, although one out of three people find the HomePod interesting, there is a high likelihood that they would still go for the Amazon Echo Show. Unless you are a hardcore Apple fan.
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