PocketParty & PodWave
With summer trying to break its way through the clouds it’s time to make the most of what the iPod has to offer outdoors. PodGear’s PocketParty is a must-have picnic accessory, as well as the ultimate in portable speakers.
As wide and long as the top of the large-size iPod to which it attaches, these mini speakers pump out decent sound – decent enough to accompany a picnic, anyway. We tested the speakers at Kew Gardens and found that the sound carried a reasonable 8m. Sound was clear, although the base levels were slightly lacking, but only enough to bother the most musical.
A slightly cheaper alternative is the PodWave from Macally. However, these smaller, lighter speakers really didn’t deliver. Sound was distorted and the assembled sarnie-eaters needed to sit within 2m of the device to hear it properly. These speakers also lacked the FireWire connector present on the PodGear. This means they can be used on iPods and MP3 players without the necessary port, but they tended to fall off the iPod if it was moved. Another criticism was that mobile phones played havoc with this speaker, relaying the distortion caused by those pesky radio waves.
Assault on battery
The PocketParty also gets one-up on the PodWave when it comes to battery life. Both run from a single AA battery, but while Macally only claims eight hours of continuous use for the PodWave, PodGear’s PocketParty gets a full ten hours. Both feature on/off switches to conserve battery life between use.
Both speakers are not ultimately designed for use outside, of course. We also tested both indoors and in a car. Indoors they pumped out reasonable sound, but with the availability of specialized speaker systems for indoor use, and the fact that the iPod can be easily hooked up to the stereo with a cable that costs less (Belkin’s RCA Audio Cable costs £8), means that we wouldn’t recommend these speakers if this was your only use for them. As for the car, if you are looking for an alternative to expensive kits to enable you to play your iPod in the car, you may be tempted by this option; unfortunately these speakers just couldn’t reach the sound levels necessary to compete with the car engine.