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I have recently moved into a new home and one of the things I wanted in my new house was a decent sound system. I listen to my music via my iPhone so basically I wanted a docking station that would give decent quality. The only slight issue I had was budget, after buying everything else to kit out my new home, funds are very low. So I wanted something cheap with good quality. My brother in law owns a Gear4 docking station and he had told me it was decent and not to expensive. The day after being told this I happened to find myself in HMV and there I spotted this, the Gear4 Streetparty PG466.
The thing that caught my eye was that it was reduced from £50 to £25. Great news as that was well within my price range. The docking station looking fairly simple and it said on the box it had good sound quality and was compatible with my iPhone 4S. So I decided I must be getting a bargain and so purchased the Gear4 Streetparty.
An hour later I was home and ready to try it out. When I first took it out the box I noticed how flimsy it looked, I suppose for £25 I should not have been expecting anything to flash, but even so it looked a little cheap. The station has two little speakers and your device sits in the middle of them upright. The little extra feature of this one is that the speakers can slide apart and you can flip your device horizontal. However, when I tried this I found that my phone did not quite fit, I hat to force it into the gap that had been created. So not very well designed as my iPhone is just slightly too big.
I decided not to let this worry me as I would rather stand my phone up vertically anyway. So I plugged the power plug in and turned the docking station on. I turned up the volume and started my music. The sound I heard coming from the speakers was quite simply..... Appalling! The sound is tinny and sounds no better than my phone does on it's own. I turned the speakers up as loud as they would go which is basically not very loud and the sound of course got worse. I tried putting on a different track but with the same result, a really hollow tinny sound that was really poor. I was very disappointed.
I decided at this point that I was not happy with the sound system I had purchased. I checked online to see what other people were saying, the first thing I noticed was that you could buy these on eBay for £20 with free postage! Ouch, I was very upset with myself as I usually do check prices online before buying things. So HMV had obviously seen me coming and the price they were originally quoting of £50 was clearly much inflated.
I had a look at the other features of the docking station. As well as running off the mains you can also use four batteries to power the system. This would of course be handy for when you wanted to take it out with you. However, the name street party implies you could play this out in the street and let people hear the music, however, unless everyone on your street is willing to crouch down over your music player, I doubt this would be any use in a street party environment. The music that my iPhone 4S plays out of it's own speakers is almost as loud as is of as good a quality.
The fact that the whole system is very flimsy, the fact that my iPhone does not properly fit into the dock when swivelled around and the fact that the sound quality is abysmal lead me to one conclusion. So a few days later I was back in HMV asking for a refund, something I detest doing, but I felt I had no choice as it was such a poor sound system that really was useless.
So if you are looking for a new docking station then stay well clear of this one. Yes it's cheap, but it is so poor it defies belief. The picture on the box makes it look very good, but when you take it out you realise how poorly made it is and how cheap it really is. There are so many better docking stations out there and this is one that I should never even considered buying.
There's nothing like technology to make you realise there are better ways of doing things. Back in the old days if I wanted to watch TV in my bedroom I had a large cathrode ray telly hooked up to an external aerial. The best it ever got was when Freeview launched and we bought an old Nokia digibox which had originally been set up for ITV Digital which is going back a bit.
Over time I have grown out of the habit of watching TV in my bedroom, but the onset of digital media has made me hanker after something I could use to watch films and TV content in bed and the iPod Touch proved perfect as a personal video player.
The problem with the iPod Touch however is you have to hold it to keep the screen upright in bed and that can become uncomfortable after a while. Also, the sound quality isn't very good through the loudspeaker and the battery life can be a bit short when you watch video content.
The ideal solution was a speaker docking station but bearing in mind you tend to watch videos holding your iPod Touch in landscape mode so you can take full advantage of the screen size, I had to find a speaker system that would enable the iPod to sit in that position. This seems a fairly easy task but there don't seem to be anything like as many speaker docks which can accommodate your iPod Touch in landscape position so when I saw the Gear 4 StreetParty Revolve in Sainsburys I was interested. Unfortunately the price at the time of £49.99 put me off a bit - this is, after all, just a speaker docking station with no radio or anything fancy.
Being the tightwad I am, I decided to wait for a while to see if I could find it cheaper and I was glad I had because a couple of months later I spied the same speaker set in Asda for a much more agreeable £29, so I duly bought it.
The version I bought states it is "Made for iPhone 4" and as such it is compatible with that and several other Apple iPod products including the iPod Touch in all incarnations, the iPod Classic with an adaptor for the 80GB/120GB versions and adaptors for the iPod Nano 4G and 5G.
The speaker system can be used in portrait mode too hence the "Revolve" name - basically the dock will rotate for whichever way you wish the iPod to be positioned. The speakers will move outwards to allow for the additional space required for positioning your iPod in the landscape position and then will slide back in if you place it in portrait mode.
The speakers run on mains power and Gear 4 provide a plug which also has a European adaptor, making it ideal for travelling. You can also use the system on battery power alone, with the speakers taking 4 AAA batteries.
The docking station will charge your iPod too, but only if you are running it on mains power.
The unit weighs just 392 g and is 10.2 x 22.2 x 3.7 cm in height, width and depth.
Gear4 don't actually tell you what the speaker output level is so I can't tell you but the sound is decent enough. Bear in mind this is a portable speaker set so you can't expect brilliant sound quality from it and there's not much in the way of sound control either just volume up and down buttons. If you are looking for hifi sound then this system won't be for you.
I only really use this to watch video content and find the sound quality to be perfect for this function. You also have to weigh up the fact this is a portable and as such lightweight and compact speaker set so it's not going to compare with a more permanent and by definition much larger speaker docking station.
I have used the Gear 4 Street Party Revolve with my iPod Touch but it also works with my old (well six years is old in iPod terms) 30GB iPod Photo Classic. I think that's what I like best about this set to be honest - the fact it seems to work with most iPods. You can also use the Revolve with non-Apple mp3 players by using a line in but I must admit I haven't tried that, having purchased this purely for use with my iPod Touch.
The plastic adaptors slot in firmly to hold the iPod or iPhone you own in place firmly. You can use the revolve without the adaptors but only in portrait mode - the holders are required if you need to turn the player or phone round for landscape mode as they hold the device safely in place.
As technology continues to evolve I have found I can use my iPod Touch as not just a video player but also as a TV. Using the wifi connection on the iPod I can watch live TV using the Catch Up TV website and can also watch live news using the BBC News and Sky News apps. The ITV player is also available as an app but unfortunately because I live in Scotland I can't watch programmes on catch up which are aired on ITV1.
It's the ability to use my iPod Touch in conjunction with these speakers to watch TV and video content in bed that I really like the most. The speaker set sits comfortably on my bedside table, taking up a fraction of the space a TV set would do. I appreciate people seem to be craving ever bigger TV screens these days but personally speaking I don't want a huge screen dominating my bedroom and taking up space unnecessarily.
It's also worth bearing in mind you don't need to worry about an aerial, cable or satellite connection to use this to watch TV but obviously you are at the mercy of your broadband connection and if you have a package with a fixed download limit you may find watching live TV regularly eats that up quickly. I have an unlimited download package so it's perfect for me.
Because the speakers aren't particularly powerful there's not much danger of me disturbing anyone when using this in bed at night when I am either watching live TV or a downloaded film.
The portability of the speakers make it an ideal travel companion too, enabling you to watch video content on the go or perhaps in your hotel room. The speaker set works for about ten hours on battery power alone but it's worth remembering that your iPod battery won't charge this way so it's almost like you are draining two batteries when you run it off the mains power.
It's dead easy to change the plug from UK to EU by just pressing a button on the main plug which removes the three pin part of the plug and you then just slot the EU adaptor into place. At the risk of sounding greedy I would have liked a US adaptor for this too to make it almost world proof but that's a minor quibble.
The downsides of this unit are few. Obviously if you want to watch video content on your iPod this works best as a personal player due to the small screen. So it's perfect for someone like me but couples might prefer a TV set in the bedroom with a bigger screen.
The only other real disadvantage is the fact the speaker set does look a bit on the cheap side. It's made entirely from black plastic and whilst it works well it does look a bit flimsy. I certainly do feel it's overpriced at full price when you factor in the lack of any real style details and the fact the materials used are cheap. When you consider this is supposed to be portable I do feel it's perhaps something that needs to be well wrapped up before packing to protect it in transit.
I have to say that for £29 I do think the Gear4 Street Party Revolve is a great companion to the iPod Touch or iPhone but at full price of almost £50 it's perhaps not quite worth it due to the cheap build quality and the fact the sound output is a bit on the wimpy side - which probably explains why Gear4 don't actually advertise what the wattage is.
The design is undeniably clever and has enabled me to make use of more features on my iPod Touch in conjunction with my home wifi connection. It's quite liberating to use a small set up instead of a large TV in my bedroom and watch video content I have bought from the iTunes Store in the comfort of my bed, instead of sitting in front of the computer.
The portability of these speakers is good too, enabling you to take something which makes watching TV and video content away from home easy, in spite of my fear these speakers are fragile. I also love how I can have my iPod permanently charging when this isn't in use - as someone who permanently forgot to charge my iPod in the past, this has really helped me avoid such disasters!
The only thing I haven't tested on this set is the ability to use non Apple players using the line-in connection. A lead for this isn't supplied so I haven't tried it with my phone yet but I don't see how a different sized device would fit in flush and securely on the speakers in landscape mode so it's perhaps a moot point.
I have to say overall I do love this speaker docking set in spite of the cheap look and fairly feeble speakers. I bought this to be able to watch video and TV in bed and for that purpose it's absolutely perfect. If you want to blast your music out loudly and annoy the neighbours I suggest you find something infinitely more powerful.
I bought an iPod touch around Christmas last year and listen to music a lot, but I knew that my CD player was a bit outdated and was getting fed up of having to buy or burn a CD every time I wanted to listen to something new. I don't always feel like listening to a whole album and prefer to switch to different things to fit whatever mood I'm in, so the thought of hooking up an MP3 player to speakers was really appealing. As my CD player didn't have the right jack to buy a cable to connect the iPOD, I came across Gear4 and I've been very happy with the purchase since!
Gear4 seems to be quite a popular brand when it comes to iPod accessories and electronic equipment. When I searched for a speaker system there was a heck of a lot to choose from and part of narrowing down the search depends on what you want to use it for and your price range. I wanted something that didn't cost a fortune, but at the same time would provide a good sound experience for a bedroom/room rather than just as a portable speaker.
... What is it? ...
In a nut shell, this is a speaker dock system for an iPod or iPhone. It's portable because of it's compact size and lightweight design, but gives enough sound to fill a room should you wish to use it as a regular speaker at home. It's original in that your device can sit upright so you can listen to music whilst it also charges, or you can move your device so it lies horizontally for you to watch a movie or tv show etc.
... The Range ...
The Gear4 StreetParty range includes various models, but the Revolve caught my eye. When I bought it I think it was reduced to about £35 (but this was almost a year ago and my memory's a bit sketchy) so in comparison to other systems it seemed like a good buy considering it had some positive reviews on Amazon. I couldn't find an in-depth review but I didn't think I could go too far wrong with it from what I could find on Amazon; portable enough because it's lightweight, a well-known brand in this area, a quirky design that allows you to use the ipod both horizontally and vertically, and a strong sound output.
... Appearances can be deceiving ...
When the postie delivered this it was quite a small box and not what I was expecting. I knew it would be quite small but on opening it it looked tiny and felt very lightweight. No way that could provide a good quality sound and volume enough to fill a room, right?
It's quite compact and looks very neat, so it doesn't take up much room wherever you want to put it. I decided against a bigger appliance that incorporated a radio or CD player etc; I didn't want to pay the extra money for features I probably wouldn't use and something neat and compact fit what I wanted perfectly. I was, however, still surprised when I received this because it was smaller than I had imagined and much lighter. That said, I wouldn't say this is just a portable device because the quality is higher than I'd expect for travel speakers; the sound fills a room well and isn't tinny at all.
... Technicalities ...
I'm not very technical when it comes to iPods and speakers so I apologise in advance for lack of specific details regarding the electrical bits and pieces! The aspect that sets this product apart from the rest is its ingenious design, hence its name 'Revolve'. The dock is 'rotating' in the sense that it will hold an iPod or iPhone both horizontally and vertically (not at the same time obviously!). Owners of the iPod Touch for example, like me, will be able to put the device in horizontally, lay back and watch a film/TV program, or keep it in the upright position to select through music tracks.
As I've said, this is a small device and weighs in at only 392g, measuring 102 x 222 x 37mm (height x width x depth).
The Revolve runs on mains or battery, though I use the mains with this in my room but the battery option is great for taking it on the move. If you wish to use batteries it requires 4 x AAA (which I didn't have included in the box, but it does come with UK & EU adaptors). It's also worth mentioning that this has a 12 month manufacturer's warranty, which I luckily haven't had to use yet and would like to think won't need to use at all.
... In The Box ...
The box contains the StreetParty unit itself, a user manual, the EU & UK adapter power supply, and 7 dock adapters. The latter are compatible with the iPod and iPhone range (don't ask me why there's so many, I'm not too good with iPods, I only know about the Touch I have!). The only thing you'll need are the AAA batteries if you want to take this out and about with you.
... Usability ...
This really is the easiest thing in the world to set up because all it requires is the one power cable in the back to plug it into the mains, and the correct adapter for the iPod, and away you go! The adapter just makes sure the iPod/phone sits in the dock correctly really, and that just takes 2 seconds to pick out the correct piece of plastic and push it in.
I've got an iPod Touch, so I'll vouch for how easy it was to use with these speakers; there's a little button on the top that lights up red for turning the speakers on/off, but as soon as you insert your iPod it'll turn itself, and the iPod, on.
There are 2 other external buttons on the Revolve for the sound : + or -. If you want to change tracks, however, you do so on the iPod, which I can see as a slight downside to the speaker because there is no remote control included.
To change your iPod from horizontal to vertical positioning is really easy, but doing so means you wont be able to have it charge whilst watching your film because the dock adapter is firmly fixed for the upright position. To move the iPod you just take it out, then move the left speaker over. All it takes is a little movement to push it out to the side slightly, then you can pop the iPod back in on its side. It fits well and feels stable, but you can't actually move the speaker system so it's on a tilt, meaning you'll need to get down onto a similar level as your desktop to watch it clearly. I don't see this as too much of a problem, but then again I don't use it much for watching videos etc.
The alternative is to tilt the system back so it's balanced against the wall, which I find it does by itself sometimes anyway if I knock it accidentally. The system is very lightweight so I'd suggest being careful where you put it and where you have the wire; I've knocked it back several times, but luckily I've got this on a set of drawers near by bed so if it gets knocked back it just rests against the wall.
... Weighing it up ...
+ Decent sound quality, far superior to what I had expected.
+ Compact design that looks stylish without looking cheap or tacky.
+ Lightweight and good for being portable, but equally good for use in the home.
+ Easy peasy to set up, and also easy to position your device horizontally or vertically.
+ Charges your iPod/iPhone whilst turned on in the upright position.
+ Choice of battery or mains power.
- No remote control, which is a slight downside for lazy people like me.
- Lightweight appeal also means you need to be a bit more careful about where you place it in case it gets knocked over.
All in all I'm happy enough with this because it pretty much fits what I wanted from an iPod speaker. I've had no problems with it so far and whilst it looks very small for the price, I'm glad I spent a bit more on this one rather than less on an alternative travel speaker because this is perfect for the house with a good sound output quality. Mariah Carey's 'All I want for Christmas' has never sounded so good! Of course this isn't perfect, such as the lack of remote which I would have liked for the price, but for average usage this is one I'd recommend.
RRP £49.99 but currently selling on Amazon (January 2010) for £39.99
(Also reviewed by me, gothic_moon, on Ciao)