GEAR4 Explorer-SP speaker dock review
The GEAR4 Explorer-SP is billed as a home portable speaker system for iPod and iPhone. It’s small and lightweight enough to be portable for your travels. It comes with a built-in battery than can be charged so you could, temporarily at least, listen to your music anywhere.
The other notable addition is 3D sound, which promises to bring increased width and depth to your music. In reality, activating the 3D option boosts volume and adds punch and brightness to your tunes. Overall sound is pretty decent, playback doesn't distort or distract with a clean fairly focused reproduction across a range of musical styles. Build is equally decent – the black plastic with a black speaker grill is neutral and stylish.
The unit’s controls – on/off, volume and 3D sound option – glow blue when in use, while a green LED light signifies your iPod or iPhone is charging. As these controls are situated on the top of the dock they prove less of a distraction in low light, such as when you’re trying to sleep, than if the lights were facing you. A neat remote allows you to control settings at arm's length including selection of playlists and tracks.
The dock promises up to eight hours of portable use after a two-hour charge. A battery level indicator lets users know when the replaceable lithium-ion battery needs to be recharged. Gear4 sells replacement batteries and says a properly maintained battery will retain up to 80 per cent of its original capacity at 300 full charge and discharge cycles.
The speaker dock comes with a lightweight black padded bag that offers some protection on your travels. While the dock fits snugly you will need to find additional room for the power supply. The bag is also useful if you need to store the dock for any length of time, and at very least keeps dust from forming on the iPod connections. A range of iPod dock adaptors and auxiliary in for other music players are also included as part of the package.
At a penny shy of £100, the GEAR4 Explorer-SP is more expensive than some rival speaker docks but does at least offer decent sound and looks in a unit that won't break the back should you take it on the road. 3D sound may be a little gimmicky but produces sonically pleasing results.