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HomePod head-to-head: How Apple’s new smart speaker compares to original

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Is the new HomePod really that different from the 2018 HomePod? Yes and no.
Is the new HomePod really that different from the 2018 HomePod? Yes and no.
Photo: Apple

Now that the full-size HomePod is finally back, just how different is it from Apple’s original smart speaker? At a glance, you might not think the $299 speaker Apple unveiled Wednesday is that different at all, because the exterior design looks so similar. But compare the new HomePod’s features to the old model, and you’ll find significant changes.

It seems potentially much-improved as a smart home device, but whether it’s a better speaker is questionable.

Edifier AirPlay 2 smart speaker looks good and sounds better [Review] ★★★★☆

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This handsome speaker offers high-quality sound at an attractive price.★★★★☆
This handsome speaker offers high-quality sound at an attractive price.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

If you’re looking for quality audio at an affordable price, you can certainly do much worse than Edifier products. The Chinese company consistently comes across with great value, and that’s the case with the Edifier MS50A powered wireless smart speaker.

The company sent me one of the handsome, wood-paneled speakers to test out. Though it’s not the smartest smart speaker on the block, it looks and sounds great for the price. I’ll get into more detail below.

Soundcore Motion Boom Plus speaker sports sound as big as all outdoors [Review] ★★★★☆

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Those bits on the end press in and out, as if moved by waves of bass. But they only seemed to move when actually pushed.★★★★☆
Those bits on the end press in and out, as if moved by waves of bass. But they only seemed to move when actually pushed.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

The Soundcore Motion Boom Plus is a powerful, portable outdoor speaker you might want to nab before summer’s over. The boombox-style Bluetooth speaker brings the brawn — 80 watts of power — along with a bit more heft than some competitors.

When you factor in the excellent sound quality, some sporty features and the relatively low price of $179.99, it’s a worthy choice for outdoor use. Some folks might even use it indoors, but many never would because of its black plastic design. It might look at home in a college dorm, but probably not in most living rooms.

Beats Pill+ portable speaker won’t stay dead

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A second special edition since Apple discontinued the Beats Pill+ speaker looks to be imminent.
A second special edition since Apple discontinued the Beats Pill+ speaker looks to be imminent.
Photo: Apple/Beats

Apple killed the Beats Pill+ portable speaker in January, and yet it lives on. In March it saw a special-edition release through a partnernship with Stüssy. And now it rises from the dead once again.

This time, a collaboration with Devin Book and Book Projects will result in a customized Beats Pill+ exterior design that takes its cues from the Sonoran Desert.

Bangin’ new speaker lets you take the party with you, light show included

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Transmart's new portable speaker packs 60W of power and four drivers. Plus a light show.
Transmart's new portable speaker packs 60W of power and four drivers. Plus a light show.
Photo: Tronsmart

Not every Bluetooth speaker on the market packs 60W of power, but the new Tronsmart Bang Outdoor Party Speaker does. And it brings a beat-driven light show to the party, too. The company rolled it out on Tuesday, emphasizing that the four-driver speaker is “loud and powerful.”

“The Bang delivers an audio feast with an impactful stereo sound thanks to its two tweeters and two woofers,” the company said.

This speaker charges your iPhone while blasting your favorite playlist

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wireless speaker
Are you ready to rumble in the jungle?
Photo: HyperGear

People who love hopping into their cars and going for an outdoor adventure know that few things compare to an open road and being in nature. Whether you’re taking a short hike or enjoying a long weekend camping, it’s important to have the right gear on hand to ensure you can fully relax and immerse yourself in your surroundings.

The HyperGear Quake Wireless Speaker with Built-in Power Bank is the perfect outdoor companion, and it serves two functions: It keeps your phone fully charged (just in case you need it). And it can stream your favorite playlists for fireside entertainment.

Firmware update adds AirPlay 2 support to Libratone ZIPP speakers

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WWDC 2017 AirPlay 2 device makers
Craig Federighi highlights speaker makers adding AirPlay 2 support at WWDC 2017
Photo: Apple

At WWDC 2017, Apple announced speaker support for the Home app, powered by an update to AirPlay. While introducing Airplay 2, they highlighted several speaker makers that would add support for the new protocol. Nearly a year later, iOS 11.4 finally launched with support for the updated wireless audio protocol.

As of today – 4 months after becoming available in iOS – speaker manufacturer Libratone has made good on their AirPlay 2 promise.

Sonos speakers will support AirPlay 2 next year

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Sonos supports AirPlay2
Sonos speakers connect to over 80 streaming services.
Photo: Sonos

Sonos’ new voice-activated Sonos One smart speaker will work with Amazon’s Alexa assistant when it ships later this month, and will add support for Apple’s new AirPlay 2 streaming protocol next year.

The new smart speaker, which will ship Oct. 24, places an emphasis on high-end audio. With its $199 price point and promised compatibility with multiple platforms, it should put pressure on Apple’s upcoming HomePod, which costs nearly twice as much.

Best List: Moshi’s AirPlay Spatia speaker looks old-fashioned but is anything but [Review]

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Moshi's Spatia Wireless AirPlay Speaker speaker has retro looks, but is thoroughly modern under the hood.
Moshi's Spatia Wireless AirPlay Speaker speaker has retro looks, but is thoroughly modern under the hood.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Best List: Spatia wireless speaker by Moshi

Wireless speakers tend to be cheap and nasty — or fantastic and expensive.

There are exceptions, though, and Moshi’s Spatia wireless AirPlay speaker is one of them.

At $399, the Spatia isn’t cheap by any means, but its sound and features rival systems costing much more.

And does it sound sweet. With five drivers, including a subwoofer, the Spatia serves up a rich, wide soundstage. Lots of speakers claim “room-filling sound,” but the Spatia truly fills the bill.

Libratone’s new wireless speaker is the One you want on the go [Reviews]

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Libratone One Click portable bluetooth speaker
Meet the Libratone ONE Click.
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Libratone makes speakers so gorgeous they look like they belong in a museum more than in my home. The company’s latest wireless speaker is so damn cool I’m tempted to take it with me everywhere.

The new ONE Click speaker from Libratone’s new portable lineup packs more features than any wireless speaker I’ve ever used while coming in a form factor that is adaptable to so many different uses it’ll make your head spin.