Video: Apple gets ready to ship HomePod after month-long delay

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The HomePod was previously scheduled to hit the market before the end of last year, but Apple issued a statement in November saying it needed more time before the product is ready for customers, giving it an "early 2018" release date.

The Taiwanese company Inventec has reportedly shipped 1 million HomePod units to Apple, hinting that Apple will soon be releasing the product. But not enough information is out there to know exactly how soon. Inventec also assembles Apple's AirPods.

Foxconn is the other alleged HomePod assembly partner, but its not clear how many units they're rolling out right now, if any. Together the two firms are expected to ship between 10 to 12 million units in 2018, splitting orders equally.

So if you're planning on buying a HomePod, you'd better get your card ready and keep your eyes open, since there's no way to know how quickly they'll go out of stock.

The HomePod is Apple's $349 smart home speaker, aimed at competing with devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which both run around $100-130.

Now you may be thinking, how can the HomePod possibly compete with other smartspeakers at that high of a price?

First of all, it's touted as a high-quality speaker, instead of just a smart home speaker, and even the new model of the Amazon Echo is somewhat lacking in audio quality. It's loaded with hardware like 7 tweeters, 6 microphones, a subwoofer, and Apple's A8 processor, taken directly from the iPhone 6. There's potential for the HomePod to put out sound comparable to some speakers above the $349 price point, but we'll just have to see.

It has software to back it up, including Apple Music, Siri, and HomeKit integration, real-time acoustic monitoring, microphone beamforming (so the HomePod can hear you over loud music), multi-channel echo cancellation, spatial awareness, beamforming tweeters, and AirPlay 2 compatibility.

Physical controls on top let you play, pause, and adjust the volume, and show an LED waveform that animates with your every word when making a Siri command, just like on your iPhone.

The HomePod definitely has the looks to back up the price, with 3D mesh acoustic fabric enshrouding the device, and it should fit in with most modern home decor. For color options, you have a simple and clean white or black.

You can also pair two HomePods in the same room, and they'll be aware of each other, working as a team to fill the room.