Will Apple devalue the Siri brand?

Belkin Soundform Elite: Smart speaker

Peter Müller

Hey Siri, play ... Siri? Oh yes, Alexa is the voice assistant on the Homepod competitor Soundform Elite.

Anyone who has set up their IT for the office and smart home completely on Apple and therefore prefers to talk to Siri rather than Alexa will only have limited fun with the Belkin Soundform Elite - and then just have to spend a few euros more on a home pod or with make some compromises with the Homepod Mini.

When it comes to intelligent sound for the living room, Apple's Homepod has certainly set standards, even if hi-fi enthusiasts do not see it as a suitable alternative to the high-end stereo system and others criticize the fact that the sound cannot be controlled via settings and likes to produce a bass that is too powerful.

While Amazon with its Echo Studio, which we tested last year, may have quite similar sound properties and even produce better sound in some genres, the Belkin Soundform Elite only comes close to the Homepod, but does not quite achieve its sound quality in our ears.

EnlargeFar too good for a kitchen radio in itself, the Soundform Elite fits better in the living room

The Soundform Elite doesn't even sound bad, it clearly beats the Homepod Mini, which we had to preview around the same time. The bass is not as powerful as that of the Homepod, which might be an important criterion for some, but it is also a little lacking in the mids and highs. Overall, the Elite sound form sounds a little thinner - but not like light beer compared to full beer, but more like full beer compared to strong beer: Its sound is balanced and pleasing.

Two different worlds

But actually the purchase decision revolves around the question of which platform it should be. And this is where the smart Belkin differs significantly because it supports Amazon's Alexa. That does not mean devaluation, but you should know which system you are getting into. With Alexa, however, distrust is also entering the smart home, because Amazon is not known for regulating data protection as strictly as Apple is. At the same time, some precautions can be taken in the Alexa app that lead to more privacy - and the microphone off switch is clearly visible on the Belkin loudspeaker. Unlike Amazon's own devices from the Echo series, however, Apple Music cannot be used on the Soundform Elite; a subscription to Amazon Unlimited is recommended.

Buy Belkin Soundform Elite on Amazon for 299 euros

Or you can use the Belkin loudspeaker as a receiver for audio streaming via Airplay 2 - and do without voice control when it comes to music. Homepod and Soundform Elite can be wonderfully combined to form a multiroom system so that the same thing runs in the kitchen as in the living room, but you can only get a stereo pair on an iPhone, iPad and Mac with two Homepods (mini).

A unique selling point makes the Belkin Soundform Elite even more attractive than Amazon's Echo Studio, for example: the iPhone (or another Qi-compatible smartphone) can be placed on the speaker and is charged wirelessly. The energy that the iPhone has to use for streaming is then immediately returned from the speaker. The iPhone charges in peace and quiet at an acceptable speed, even if it does not always lie perfectly on the charging coil due to the lack of a Magsafe holder. But in one hour the battery gets charged by about 30 percentage points.

Conclusion

The Belkin Soundform Elite is an elegant and pleasant sounding smart loudspeaker that could actually play in the same league as the Homepod if it weren't for another smart platform. Thanks to Airplay 2 and the cleverly used storage space that charges the iPhone wirelessly, the loudspeaker can also be recommended for the Apple household, albeit with the familiar drawbacks. The Belkin Soundform Elite is available in either white or black and costs 299.99 euros from the manufacturer, the street price is significantly lower.