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You can finally order Apple’s HomePod, but should you?

Apple’s HomePod digital assistant is a bit of a conundrum. The company’s timing is way behind both Amazon and Google when it comes to offering this kind of device.

It announced the HomePod last summer and was supposed to be out before the end of 2017. However, its release date was delayed and we didn’t know when it would be available. Until now.

The tech giant announced this week when the HomePod will finally be released.

Apple announces HomePod release date

Apple has long been on the cutting edge of audio devices, from the early days of the iPod on through the current high demand for the wireless AirPod headphones. Combine that with the company’s mature Siri voice assistant technology and anybody in the market for a home assistant should at least give the HomePod some serious consideration.

After a brief delay, Apple announced the HomePod will be released on February 9, 2018. Pre-orders for the device will begin Friday, January 26. Keep reading for pros and cons to purchasing Apple’s new device.

Here’s why you might want to crack open your pocketbook and buy Apple’s upcoming gadget:

1) You already live and breathe Apple

You have an iPhone in your pocket, a Mac on your desk, a MacBook at home, an Apple TV in the living room, and an iPad in your briefcase. You’re on a first-name basis with Siri, who sets your wake-up alarms, times your microwave popcorn, and conducts internet searches for you. You’re a certified Apple fan, therefore, you’re a prime candidate to be an early adopter of the HomePod.

The HomePod will fit right into any existing Apple ecosystem. You will already be comfortable with the device’s “Hey, Siri” wake words and should feel right at home using the new gadget. Apple is counting on its core users to embrace the HomePod.

2) You prize sound above all

Both the Amazon Echo and Google Home do a reasonably good job of playing music, but Apple is already on the offensive with the smart audio technology tucked into its HomePod. Early reports praise the HomePod’s sound quality.

It also adjusts itself to best fill the space of any particular room. That’s like having an automated audio engineer to tune your device. This places the HomePod into direct competition against high-end connected speaker systems like Sonos.

If you have any doubt about Apple’s intentions to lure customers through sound quality, you just need to check out the music-focused advertising pitch on the company’s HomePod page.

3) You have privacy concerns

The HomePod will operate a little differently from Alexa and Google Home. Data from the HomePod will be anonymous, so requests and commands won’t be connected to you personally. Apple says the HomePod uses this anonymous ID combined with encryption to protect your privacy.

Now that you’re all hyped to become an Apple HomePod owner, here are a couple reasons why you might want to skip on the new assistant:

1) It’s too expensive

When it comes to big-name digital home assistants, Amazon has been the most aggressive in its pricing. You can get started with Alexa for under $50, which nets you an Echo Dot. It’s small and it doesn’t feature the higher-end speaker array of a regular $99 Echo, but it can be attached to external speakers and is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase. Apple’s HomePod, like most Apple products, comes at a price premium with a cost of $349.

The Google Home assistant doesn’t quite descend to Amazon’s bottom-line price tag, but it still costs an affordable $129. That means the HomePod is unabashedly positioned as a premium product and that expense may turn off bargain-hunting buyers.

2) It’s too early

Apple’s HomePod will be the first generation of an as-yet-unproven device. Both Amazon and Google have a head start when it comes to third-party products and apps. There’s a massive library of Alexa skills and both of the incumbent devices support a variety of music services, including Spotify and Pandora.

HomePod will reportedly only support Apple Music at launch. Apple’s closed-system approach could eventually open up, but it may put a damper on enthusiasm for the already pricey product.

One more consideration:

You can have your Alexa or Google Home and still bring a HomePod into your life. These devices won’t play together, but they can peacefully coexist.

Speaking of Amazon Echo and Google Home, which one is better?

There comes a time when you have to make a big decision. When you call out to your home voice assistant, will you start with saying “Hey, Alexa” or “OK Google?” Amazon’s Alexa devices are deep into a heated battle with Google Home gadgets. They have comparable prices and skills and capabilities that go head-to-head. So how do you choose one?

Click here to read about their strengths and see what works for you.

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