Apple Homepod speaker + UE Boom2 review

Apple Homepod and UE Boom

It’s all new with a bit hype and every review says it sounds great. So here’s my review of the Apple Homepod speaker. Background: I wanted a home speaker mainly for the internet radio streaming for little while now and following the hype got one. Little did I know, I should have actually Not read the reviews and actually hear it for myself.

In terms of looks the Apple Homepod looks good but resembles the Sony LFS5OG speaker without the clock. It is not the first time Apple have copied Sony’s designs BTW. Unfortunately it does’t look that good or expensive no matter how much I wanted to like $500 AUD worth of speaker. The $150 UE Boom’s build and materials is just as good for example.  I’m putting this up as more information for potential buyers and a warning – you really need to try the Homepod before buying.

In terms of use the Homepod is pretty good because it doesn’t do much. You can only use an iPhone with it and only if you have a Apple Music subscription. This was in the fine print which was poor showing by Apple. I don’t so it’s very limited in term of daily use. Siri is integrated so works well as Siri which is just passable and it is limited to music so asking the wether won’t work at least with the version of software.

The UE Boom speakers works with any Bluetooth capable phone and has it’s own app you can download. Some models come with Siri, Google Home and even Alexa virtual assistance integrated. That makes it great value if that’s what you’re into. The Boom2 also has a AUX socket you can also plug it into your computer or connect it via Bluetooth or USB!

In terms of sound quality the Apple Homepod does sound good but to it is disappointing no matter how much I tried to like it and how fantastic the marketing material say it is. The sound has barely any music separation every blogger and review writes about. There are bass frequencies are exaggerated but it’s not tight and depends on where you put it. However it is pretty loud for it’s size which is nice. You also need a table as the sound is directional vertically. Musical instruments honestly don’t sound immediate or real and voices indistinct. Joshua Kadison sounds exactly like Elton John for example.

The UE Boom2 sounds just as good but different. The sound is clear and quite loud but most of all just as 360 degree even when facing vertically horizontally. However there is a sweet spot like the Homepod. The bass is sufficient and reasonably distinct rather than overly boosted so no complaints given the relatively small size. The sound quality seems focused on clarity than fuzziness. The equaliser settings can make them sound quite different. Overall it’s a different sound to the Homepod.

The main problems with the Apple Homepod is promoted sound quality than reality despite it’s advanced sound processing software, if you stand up it sounds different and not better furthermore if you have two or more people moving around the speaker it warbles. However the sound quality is pretty good for such a small speaker and if your standing or sitting in one spot. The sound quality overall focuses on quality fuzziness rather than clarity. The more I think about it the secret to the  the Apple Homepod sound quality and getting good reviews is that uses the Loudness setting as the default equaliser setting!

Overall the Apple Homepod is a shopping centre style speaker for the home and only if you have an iPhone and it is expensive for such a limited device. However it sounds great for what it is. However if really want a wireless speaker try the UE Boom or Boom 2 portable speaker (for example) as it looks and sounds almost as good and with 360′ sound although with a lower level of bass. But it  will work with any smartphone or music streaming website, completely portable, able to chain multiple speakers, water proof and has Siri, Google Home or Alexa built in. The UE Boom2 even sounds almost as good with the ends pointing at you! If you more bass and volume you can for the Megaboom version and if you want the UE Boom2 to sound like a Homepod simply adjust equaliser settings.

Choosing a new mobile phone operating system

This is a tablet not my new phone.

I’m buying a new phone and decided to share the journey. I currently have a iPhone 6 amongst others as a work phone and a Samsung Galaxy Note4 as a personal phone, after losing the Z Ultra. I’m replacing the Note4 because it’s over 3 years old and although still works perfectly and still being sent OS updates it’s time for a change.

The basis of how a mobile phone and the transition to smartphone works is related to how advanced the operating system is. Mobile phones have advanced so quickly over the last 20 years so it is surprising that  from all the frenzied development, in 2017 there are only two main operating systems to choose from. You have Apple’s iOS represented by the iPhone and the Google supported Android OS which runs on every other phone.

My experience with iPhones and iOS are very good. They work really well and mostly stable with only a crash every so often. It is easy to use but missing customisation options. I can see why non-tech inclined masses want this phone as it does most things, albeit in its own way. My experience with Android OS based phones has also been very good. They are stable and have less crashes than the iPhone. They literally do everything I want but also plenty more for the tech heads.

Over the years there have been some less successful efforts which included Windows Phone OS, Palm OS, Tizen, Symbian, all have failed to gain traction. Why they failed has to do with lots of factors which included Apple and Microsoft primarily suing everything that amounted to who dared ‘copied’ their ‘copied’ ideas. Of course it was all technicalities since for example the basis of Apple’s claim is similar looking rounded corners which have been around for decades. Thanks to their own shortsightedness they can no longer innovate by copying since everyone is registering patents for every single new idea and image. Has everyone forgotten about  Apple’s blatant copy of the Swiss railway clock.

Does it really matter which phone your operating system your phone uses? Yes and No. There are so many variants of Android OS each one has the positives and negatives although the basic operation remains the same. On the other hand Apple controls the iOS completely and it will only run on iPhone the good and the bad. Both operating systems have the Apps and they run the same on both systems. However Android Apps sometimes have more options. Compare the 2017’s most popular Apps, versions of Instagram, Facebook etc.. and they are virtually identical. However if you are into less popular interest such as ODBII you will find Apple iOS software lacking.

It is about choosing between Apple and the Other brands, in particular Samsung? Yes if you are brand conscious. However if you are a more sophisticated shopper other factors like the actual design, ease of use, novel functionality, performance, design, size, freedom essentially then an Android OS phone is what you need. Note that on a global scale it appears that Android OS is currently represented by Samsung and iOS by Apple and the iPhone.

Is the Apple iPhone iOS easier to use than an Android OS phone? Yes and No, the iPhone and iOS in the early years was easier to use due to the lack of options but not in 2017.  Android OS when released was hampered by the phone networks which it overcame. Of course the rest is history and now Android has the lead in terms of functionality because it can do things that the iPhone simply can’t do. Comparing the current versions of each OS if you equate more functionality as ‘difficult to use’ then it’s not the OS’s problem.

After thinking through the Operating System issue, I decided that either operating systems in 2017 is not as important as in the past. So I decided to look at the other features.