Emboldened, we like to think, by the warm reception TechDigest offered to their silly but loveable Pocket Party a few months back PodGear have followed their ‘stuffed vine leaf’ sized offering with a bigger, better, and significantly louder iPod audio solution. Whereas the pocket party was more or less in a league of its own the £60 Houseparty has significant competition from Altec Lansing and Bose – both of which are premium products aimed at a rather deep-pocketed consumer.
The Houseparty isn’t really in that bracket, in terms of either audio fidelity or retail price, but it’s nevertheless a useful little device that both syncs and charges your iPod while pumping out a fairly credible amount of racket. In the box you get a Houseparty, which is roughly as wide as three iPods and as deep as two, and a couple of adaptors which enable you to mount a Mini or even a Shuffle in the unit. No word on a Nano adaptor yet. The shuffle adaptor thing is a weird little thing with a rather fragile looking connector that you probably wouldn’t want to unplug and replug too many times while the Mini one is just a little plastic support to prevent the player wobbling around too much when the transport controls are used.
The package is rounded out by a fairly standard AC adaptor that naturally weighs about five times more than the device it powers. As well as the power cable there’s a USB ‘B’ connector to hook your iPod up to a Mac or PC which, given the price of a spare iPod dock from Apple, makes the Houseparty a very attractive prospect. It’s a shame that the USB connection can’t be persuaded to carry the computer audio as well, but PodGear have got around that by offering an auxiliary in jack on the rear of the unit. There’s no battery power, so the Houseparty is, true to its name, not much of an outdoor type.
That aside, and ignoring for a moment the cunningly-concealed volume controls (there’s a little chrome sensor either side of the iPod housing disguised as a screwhead to make reviewers feel foolish).the Houseparty looks like another winner from the PodGear people. Every beach hut should have one.