In the ever-burgeoning iPod speaker market, how is a company to set itself apart? One way is to give your product a catchy name, perhaps one that is not related to technology. This is the case with Gear 4's StreetParty Size 0, an ultrathin device with a fashion-oriented name. Sure, it may not be the smartest naming on the planet, but it does get the point across. Of course we'd like it even more if it had a slim price to match--at about $100 (49.99 pounds) it's not exactly expensive, but considering the not-so-hot audio quality, a lower price point would be a real clincher.
We may not be too keen on the name, but the StreetParty Size 0 does live up to it. The unit is one of the smallest we've seen at just 8.7 inches long, 4.9 inches high, and 0.7 inch deep. A centrally located dock/stand folds completely flush with the unit for compact transport. This segment includes the iPod dock connector and volume controls, while the back of the Size 0 contains a power switch, DC- and line-in ports, and a compartment that takes four AA batteries (not included). There's also a mini USB port for syncing the iPod while it's docked, but you'll need to provide your own cable: Though the manual stated one is provided, there wasn't one in our package. Gear 4 does include a simple, neoprene carrying case; a power cable; and two international adapters: a European 2-pin and a British 3-pin. Currently, the unit is only available to U.S. users through the company's online store, and the speaker does not include a North American adapter. However, Gear 4 plans to launch officially in the States in the near future and will include the proper adapter at that time. For now, though, you're stuck using a converter--quite a bummer.
The all-black StreetParty Size 0 should appeal to a variety of tastes; it's very unassuming. The entire front--save the docking station--is wrapped in a metal grille, which conceals four speakers: two tweeters and two low-resonance drivers. There's also what appears to be a small pass-through speaker on the back of the unit, though the purpose this serves is unclear--possibly to let air through. Back on the front, two LEDs indicate whether the speaker is turned off (red) or on (blue). Either way, the iPod will get charged while docked (if the speaker is plugged in). As long as the aforementioned power switch is in the on position, you can use the included remote to control power. The remote, by the way, is fabulous--it's the first one we've seen since the Cambridge SoundWorks Playdock i that allows you to navigate within the iPod's menus, as well as control basic playback.
Sadly, the StreetParty Size 0 is not so fabulous in the performance department. Though high-end detail and clarity is good, music sounds very bright overall. Bass is almost completely absent, but the mids are pretty well represented. Hip-hop and electronic tracks are straight-up bad, but many rock tracks--Dredg's "The Canyon Behind Her" for instance--and even some pop songs (Shakira) are quite tolerable, even good in some cases. It's not quite enough to make up for the lacking low-end, but for frequent-fliers who need something super compact and lightweight to keep them entertained in hotel rooms, the Size 0 might do the trick.