Now that Amazon's Echo has been launched locally, we have a full set of premium speakers that can be used as home assistants that can listen to our commands and pander to our beck and call. So, how does it stack up against Google's Home and the Apple HomePod, which hits the stores tomorrow? Let's take a look.
|Google Home||Amazon Echo||Apple HomePod|
|Dimensions||Diameter: 96.4mm, Height: 142.8mm, Weight: 477g||Diameter: 88mm, Height: 148mm, Weight: 821g||Diameter: 142mm, Height: 172mm, Weight 2.5kg|
|Colours||White with slate fabric base||Black||Black or white|
|Connectivity||802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5Ghz) Wi-Fi (WPA2-Enterprise not supported), Bluetooth||802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) networks. (Ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi not supported), Bluetooth||802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, Direct guest access and Bluetooth 5.0|
|Speakers||High excursion speaker with 52 mm driver + dual 52 mm passive radiators||63.5 mm woofer and 16 mm tweeter||High-excursion woofer and seven horn-loaded tweeters|
|Audio format support||HE-AAC, LC-AAC, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC, Opus||MP3, AAC, WAV/PCM, Vorbis, Opus||HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV and FLAC|
|OS Support||Android 4.4 and higher and iOS 9.1 and higher||Fire OS, Android, and iOS devices||iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation), iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or iPod touch (6th generation) running iOS 11.2.5 or later|
What's that all mean
In lots of ways, these three devices look to deliver similar functionality. But they differ in several ways.
The most obvious difference is price. You can buy two or three Echos or Homes for the cost of a single HomePod. Apple's big play isn't to compete to compete with Amazon and Google. The HomePod is another element in their walled garden (which brings its own customer base) but they are really competing with the likes of Sonos, pricing the HomePod straight between the Play:3 and Play:5 speakers.
Apple is charging the premium price because they've loaded the HomePod up with a bunch of powerful speakers and, well, because they're Apple.
The Echo and Home are also far more open. Both support Android, as well as iOS, with the Echo throwing in Amazon Fire support as well. And you'll find the Home and Echo also support lots more home automation gear with the HomePod only playing nicely with HomeKit compatible gear.
And while Apple is all about making the HomePod play nicely with their Apple Music service, you'll find the Echo and Home are a better choice if you're a Spotify user.
Pulling all that together, if you live and breath in Apple's ecosystem, using HomeKit, Apple Music and have a homogenous environment of iOS devices, deep pockets and are looking for a multi-room music solution, then the HomePod is worth considering.
But if you live in a world where not everything comes from one service provider, and you're happy with "good enough" rather than premium sound, then your choice narrows to the Amazon Echo, with it's tie-in to the Amazon store, or the Google Home which plays well with almost everyone and everything.