Five years ago, Apple introduced what I unequivocally consider the best smart speaker of 2022. She arrived late to the party, was criticized by the tech press, and was discontinued early. It was the original HomePod and there is still nothing like it.
Of course there are five variations of the HomePod mini, but we wanted Apple to make a smaller HomePod to complement the larger one, not replace it. The big HomePod has big sound that's perfect for large rooms or as your best speaker in your main listening position.
HomePod mini is surprisingly compact in comparison, but the difference in sound is huge. HomePod mini is a starter-friendly smart speaker that makes the HomePods more affordable, but falls short of the original HomePod in terms of volume and bass.
We need the HomePods family. Instead, we're stuck with this easy one. That's why, my fellow Apple ecosystem citizens, the market for used original HomePods is so enticing almost two years after the OG HomePod was discontinued.
Don't get me wrong. The OG HomePod has a lot to learn from its little brother. The HomePod wins in sound and can even be used as stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos for your home theater. HomePod mini has several features that exist simply because it was the first version of the HomePod line.
The large HomePod has a detachable power cord that should probably never be unplugged. Kind of like the Apple Studio display. HomePod mini doesn't have a detachable cable, but ends up with a USB-C connector instead of power prongs!
HomePod mini connects to a removable USB-C power adapter. data port. This allows you to connect your damaged HomePod mini to your Mac or PC to restore its software should the update ever fail. The big HomePod just shows you the red ring of death as if it were the original Xbox, and all support needs to be sent to Apple.
Apple is also using a faster processor inside the HomePod mini, replacing the aging A8 chip with the newer S5 chip. This helps determine how quickly Siri responds to voice commands, and also likely helps keep HomePod mini's price down. A smart speaker doesn't need graphics power anyway.
Also, HomePod mini also has Thread radio support built in. The most recent Apple TV 4K boxes also include Thread. Thread just wasn't ready for the original HomePod.
That's all included in Apple's version of what a HomePod could be, but make no mistake, the original HomePod rules. as the best smart home speaker. The thing just has an audio performance that never ceases to impress. It's loud, full, deep, uncompromising.
My particular interest in the big HomePod now began with a family visit out of town for Thanksgiving. Many years ago, I gave them one HomePod, which they regularly use to this day. Meanwhile, I ditched the big HomePod as soon as Apple said the HomePod mini was the future of the line. Nearly two years later, I couldn't believe how damn great the original HomePod sounded.
Apple no longer sells original HomePods, but you can find used or refurbished OG HomePods on eBay and Facebook Marketplace priced between $200 and $300. Apple originally sold the HomePod for $350 before dropping the price to $300 with $250 being the regular selling price towards the end of its retail life. After paying taxes and shipping earlier this month, I bought a HomePod stereo pair for about $450.
I knew I'd love the big HomePod again, but I didn't expect the original to be better. You can whisper to call Siri across the room, ambient sleep sounds make you feel like you're there, and the overall volume can compete with some serious noise levels.
There are signs of hope for a new HomePod whose name is unrelated to the larger version that is no longer on sale. A few months ago, reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple would release an additional HomePod in Q4 2022 or Q1 2023. Based on the current timeline, this could mean we'll see a more powerful HomePod with modern versions by spring. I really hope this product exists, especially since the version announced in 2017 and released in 2018 won't last forever.