Apple discontinued its pricey HomePod speaker a few years back because it although it sounded good, the features just didn’t compare to cheaper smart speakers available.

Now, the big HomePod is back with some new capabilities and a lower price tag.

The second generation HomePod has a larger touch surface, a removable cable and Siri for voice commands.

It comes in two colors: Midnight and White. Both speakers are wrapped in a mesh like fabric that’s nearly invisible to the soundwaves emanating out of it.

New are built in temperature and humidity sensors, which are handy for smartphone automations.

Apple HomePod second generation smart speaker in Midnight review
Apple HomePod second generation smart speaker in Midnight

The speaker can also listen for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and send a notification to your phone if it hears them.

The speaker also supports a new smart home standard called Matter, which has Google, Amazon and Samsung on board. This means the HomePod should (eventually?) play nice with lots of smart home gadgets as Matter becomes more widely available.

But the big question, of course, is how does it sound?

If you have nothing to compare it to, it’s very good. You won’t be disappointed. But compared to the original HomePod, audio from the new version isn’t quite as rich. This could be due to the fact that the new version has two less tweeters, but I’m no audio expert.

Listen to my interview with YouTube reviewer Brian Tong from the Rich on Tech Radio Show

Don’t get me wrong. It still sounds excellent, and the key play here is how well the HomePod mixes with other Apple products.

It’s super easy to link the HomePod to an Apple TV for an instant sound upgrade over the speakers built into your TV. If you want to get really wild, you can link two HomePods with an Apple TV and create a stereo pair complete with all kinds of amazing Dolby Atmos sound.

Keep in mind, you can’t mix and match. The paired HomePods must be the exact same model.

One cool trick: if you’re playing audio on a recent iPhone, you can hover your phone near the top of the HomePod speaker and instantly transfer whatever’s playing to the speaker.

HomePod also works as a giant speakerphone.

But the biggest downside: there’s still no direct connection to Spotify. It will work, but you have to use AirPlay to stream music to the device. It’s not as seamless as using your voice to call up Apple Music playlists or Pandora, two integrated services.

At $300 dollars, the new HomePod is $50 less than the the previous generation, but that’s still pricey compared to cheaper smart speakers from Google and Amazon that might get the job done.

But if you’re all about that Apple ecosystem, the 2nd generation HomePod will make a cozy addition to your place.

Keep in mind there is also a HomePod Mini speaker available for about $100 dollars and it sounds incredible for its size and comes in a wide range of fun colors.

It doesn’t necessarily have the same level of room filling sound, but it’s still an excellent choice.