On a recent holiday I had a small accident which involved a glass of wine, attempts at dancing around a bedroom and some Ipod speakers... the outcome of which you can probably imagine! As such I found myself on Amazon the week after I got home on the hunt for some affordable replacement speakers. I ended up purchasing the Gear 4 Explorer SP Portable Speaker Dock from HMV in the end as it was a brand I'd purchased before, they seemed reasonably priced and my boyfriend kindly donated his HMV vouchers as well!
The speakers are black in colour with a shiny finish to the plastic surfaces which actually makes them look quite smart. The portable speaker dock is 14cm in width, 29cm in diameter and 4.5cm in height making it slightly larger than other docking stations I've had in the past. It weighs just over 1kg which means it's still quite light but it shouldn't blow over in the breeze like one set I had did! My ipod sits comfortably in the centre of the speaker and is slightly raised out of it, while it has two large speakers on either side of it.
The Gear 4 speakers come with a small remote control which can be used to operate the set from a distance, the control seems to work within about 6m of the speakers from my personal experience. From the remote you can turn the speakers on / off, fast forward or rewind a song, alter the volume, etc. Sometimes when I turn the speakers on using the remote there is a slight delay of about 7 or 8 seconds before they actually turn on and the same can also be said if you turn them on directly on the speakers, it's not a major issue though.
The speakers have a built in lithium ion battery which contains up to 8 hours of life according to the advertising although I've found that it seems to go after about 7 hours which is still pretty good in my opinion. The battery requires 2 hours to charge which is actually described as a fast charge on the advertising. I do tend to use the speakers mostly while they're actually plugged into the mains but the option to take the speakers outside or away from a mains electricity supply was one of the main things that attracted me to this.
I've been really impressed with the sound quality, it's really clear and crisp - even at louder volumes there's no distortion or muffling at all. The speakers do offer something called DSP for 3D sound (this might as well be in Japanese) but apparently this means that the speakers provide virtual surround sound for great quality audio! It's advertised as having natural bass as well as the bass is certainly evident when playing, you can also adjust this using the remote control by selecting the bass boost option to intensify it.
The Gear 4 dock is suitable for both the iphone (3G, 3GS and 4) and the ipod (ipod touch 1st to 3rd generation, ipod nano 1st to 5th generation, ipod classic, ipod with video and ipod mini) as it has an inbuilt dock on the actual speaker set as well a 3.5mm jack aux input too. There's a couple of extras that come along with the speakers... the remote and a UK and European mains plug so you can use the speakers around Europe. There's also a black carry case to help protect the speakers while on the move... and from wine damage too!
It currently retails at £54.99 on Amazon as well as at the same price at both Currys and Dixons too. I bought mine from HMV where it was reduced to £49.99 although according to their website I'm not sure if they still stock it. Although this is a little more expensive than quite a few other speaker options, I've bought cheaper models before and found the sound quality to be insufficient so I was willing to spend a little more. On the plus side it's still a fair bit cheaper than some of the more pricey models on the market!
Overall I've been really impressed with the Gear 4 Explorer SP Portable Speaker Dock, it provides great sound while on the move as well as at home. It's portable size and lightweight makes it ideal for carrying around while the 3D sound quality really ensures that the sound fills any room. The lithium battery means you can use it outside of the house easily and also is better for the environment as you're not throwing away disposables. Apart from the slight switching on delay I really can't fault it... the full five stars!
Thanks for reading.