Repair or Replace?
I bought two Homepods when they first came out and created a stereo pair with one in the kitchen and one in the living room. My wife loves listening to her Neil Diamond and Bruce Springsteen favorites, and they are also yet another timer she can set when she needs one. The Homepods have incredible hearing too; you can ask Siri a question or give a command (“Hey, Siri, Couch light on”) with your voice barely above a whisper or at a normal volume from another room. That’s true even with the volume rocking the house.
You can also use a Homepod as a speaker during a phone call. My wife tried that when we first set them up. I suddenly heard her brother’s voice and was puzzled because he lives hours away — how could he be in our living room at 8:30 A.M? The voice quality was that good; I had to go check to see if somehow he really was there.
We have loved our HomePods. They were an expensive purchase, but we felt they were worth it.
After a recent power failure, I noticed that our stereo paired Homepods showed “Not responding “ in the Apple Home app. That’s not unusual; another power cycle usually makes it happy, and if that fails, breaking the stereo pair and re-pairing has always worked.
This time it did not. I broke the stereo pairing, but could not re-pair. One of the HomePods wouldn’t take Siri commands, saying that I needed to fix my iCloud settings. It wouldn’t let me access those; that section was grayed out, so I decided to reset both devices to factory defaults. Then I began a fresh setup.
The Homepod sound quality is really good, at least for our ears, and is definitely better than anything else we own — I’m looking at you, Alexa!
The Home app let me set up both devices, but after that was done, the troublesome one did not reappear in the app. It worked to the extent that it could answer questions like “When do we vote” and “What time is it”, but refused any commands that needed iCloud (“Shuffle my music” and the like).
So I called Apple. They had me try to reset it manually by holding down the top for several minutes after a restart. No matter what, nothing happened. The Homepod knew anything it could look up on the web, but it was invisible to the Home app and otherwise useless.
Apple gave up and suggested taking it to Best Buy for diagnostic tests. That made sense to me, but I decided not to, at least temporarily.
The out of warranty repair cost for the Homepod is a whopping $280.00. In November, if we aren’t all shooting at each other, Apple will be selling a $99.00 Homepod Mini. I could buy three of those for just a little more than the cost of repairing this one!
Also, honestly I do not trust Best Buy for that. I know that they are now Apple Certified for repairs, and that they would probably end up shipping it to Apple Depot repair anyway, but I just do not trust them. No Apple stores near me would let me make a repair appointment, and then there is still that $280.00 out of warranty repair cost.
Replacing the Homepod falls into the “We really like having this” category. We don’t absolutely need two Homepods, but it is convenient to have them. The Homepod sound quality is really good, at least for our ears, and is definitely better than anything else we own — I’m looking at you, Alexa! If I were not retired, I would order a new one right now as street prices are less than the repair cost — I’ve seen them as low as $210.00. But that’s still a good chunk of money. We like the Homepod, but even $200 is a few weeks of groceries.
I’m going to wait for the Mini.
You get what you pay for?
Of course, I do not expect the Mini to have the same quality as the big unit. But my wife doesn’t hear all that well even with hearing aids, and I seldom listen to music anyway. I am quite tone deaf and lack deep appreciation of music. I expect the Mini would work just fine for us. In any case, Apple always has a fourteen day return policy; if we don’t like it, I’ll ship it back.
I’d like to also replace the hockey puck Alexa in our bedroom. My wife will not like it if I get two of these; she’s not a fan of replacing things that work. I’d like to have whole house music, though, and that would give us that..
Hmm, I wonder if “Alexa, self destruct“ will work?
 We don’t use our Homepods as TV speakers from our Apple TV streaming box. Until the latest tvOS, you could do that, but it would not stick; you’d lose it upon a restart. Also, the sound quality was not as good as our Bose sound bar, explained by Homepods being tuned for music, not TV sound. That tuning may or may not have changed with the latest tvOS; in any case the HomePod(s) might be better than some built in TV speakers.