~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~
When MP3 players were first launched they took the world by storm and it was almost unbelievable that a small handheld device would enable you to take your entire music collection with you on the move. It was of course Apple that took the MP3 player to new and dizzy heights and with the success of the iPod came the inevitable battle between hundreds of manufacturers who flooded the market with a variety of "unofficial" accessories. You only need to walk into an Apple Store to realise that official iPod accessories are quite expensive so it's easy to understand how manufacturers such as Gear4 have found that there products have become bestsellers.
Anyway, I recently bought a 2nd Generation iPod from a friend for an extremely reasonable price and decided that I would keep it in the kitchen so that I wouldn't have to have the sound system from the living room on at an almost deafening level if I wanted to listen to music whilst cooking a meal. All I needed then was an iPod dock to connect it to. The choice was mind boggling and iPod docks were being sold for as cheap as a pound and as expensive as an actual iPod !!!
I didn't really want to spend too much so when I found the Gear4 Streetparty on Amazon for just £6.99 I thought I would give it go ...
~~~ WHAT'S IN THE BOX ? ~~~
The Gear4 Streetparty Speaker system is essentially a plug and play docking system that can be used the second you open the box. The box contains the docking unit, 4 AAA batteries and an instruction manual ... all you need to do is insert the batteries connect your iPod nano and you're up and running ! The model I have is black but in terms of appearance looks exactly the same as the image provided by dooyoo ...
~~~ TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ~~~
* Dock Type: Single Case Speaker System
* Compatability: 1st & 2nd Generation iPod Nanos
* Number of Speakers: 2
* Speaker Type: Active
* Signal Input: Analogue
* USB: Yes
* Wattage per Speaker Channel (RMS): 3
~~~ TRIED AND TESTED ~~~
The Gear4 Streetparty has an extremely simple yet quite eye-catching design and as a docking unit is easy to use and performs well. It is also compatable with both 1st and 2nd Generation nanos and the design of the unit works well with the size and shape of the iPod itself.
The real test, however, is the quality of the sound and, despite the bargain £6.99 price tag, the Gear4 Streetparty kicks out an impressive audio output that in my experience iPod docks costing ten times as much fail to deliver. My own music collection is extremely varied and whether it's rock, indie, pop or dance the speakers never fail to capture each individual note and even when I have the music on quite loud the sound is crisp, clear and fills the room with sound.
In addition to this, the Gear4 Streetparty is also extremely well made. It's both strong and sturdy and the design of the unit also protcects your nano (which fits snuggly and securely into the front of the dock in a space that holds your iPod firmly in place). In terms of these speakers being portable I would have no issues carrying this dock from A to B as the iPod nano is both securely attached to the unit and protected by the overall design. The nano also compliments the design of the dock too which for me is another bonus as all too often MP3 players look lost or out of place when connected to some of the larger or more extravagent looking speaker systems.
So far, so good but if I did have a negative comment to make about the Gear4 Streetparty it would be that it didn't come with either a mains connection or a remote control unit. I do know that the docking units that are powered by a mains connection also charge your iPod whilst you are playing your tunes and although the Gear4 Streetparty gets several hours of use out of 4 AAA batteries it is annoying when the batteries start to run out power and you need to change them. As for the remote control I know it's not an essential item but it would have been a nice touch !
~~~ PRICE & AVAILABILITY ~~~
Gear4 products are available everywhere thesedays and can be found at almost every major electrical retailer and department store as well as being on the shelves of numerous "bargain" stores. It's a similar case online where you will discover that the Gear4 Streetparty (nano) is being sold for as little as £6.99 on Amazon but is also being sold for as much as £39.99 on the official Gear4 website ! It certainly isn't worth £40 quid but if you are looking for a reliable speaker dock for your iPod nano that kicks out an impressive room filling sound for less than a tenner then the Gear4 Streetparty won't disappoint.
~~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~~
With a mains connection lead and a remote control unit this would have been given 5 stars. However, that aside, the quality of the sound, the eye-catching yet simple design and the £6.99 price tag has made the Gear4 Streetparty one of my "best buys" of 2010. It may not be a cutting edge gadget or a market leader but in terms of pumping out the tracks stored on my iPod nano it certainly delivers ...