Gear4's StreetParty Size 0 may hold connotations of stick-thin supermodels but its potential applications will find the Size 0 in much more boisterous situations. They're priced around £40, and have a shockingly thin 16mm depth, so these ultra-portable speakers will slide into even the most over-packed rucksacks and back pockets of skateboarding trousers.
The proof will be in the pudding, though. Small speakers stereotypically pack more of a slap than a punch. The burning question on our tongue is whether the Size 0's four small drivers deliver the whole party or just a bunch of slightly deflated balloons.
Anyone who's tried to fit any kind of speaker system into a rucksack when you're tight on space will understand how crucial size is. To be fair, with the name 'StreetParty', you'd be forgiven for thinking Gear4 has pitched this to the boombox-toting party veterans on the streets of west Philadelphia in the 90s. But this really is a system geared up for anyone on the move. A compact design and the excellent build quality of its body to match will keep the knocks and bumps of travel from taking too much of a toll on lifespan.
Built into the rear of the system is a standard mini USB socket, meaning the Size 0 will work as an iPod dock for syncing with your computer, eliminating your reliance on the proprietary cables shipped with all iPods.
There's also a 3.5mm line-in jack for use with any other audio player you may have knocking around on your travels, and the unit can be powered by four globally available AA batteries (the iPod isn't charged while the Size 0 is on battery power).
Sound quality should sit in a space between a strength and a weakness. For use in a tent or on a campsite, for example, performance is adequate. At up to about 80 per cent volume, we think you'll generally be a happy camper, and for about £40 you're not being robbed of money for replacement tent pegs.
Where sound quality fails to impress is at higher volumes. We feel that if an all-in-one system such as this can go up to a certain volume, it should perform well at that volume. Loud music lacks the definition we were expecting. Less complicated music is slightly better.
It shouldn't be overlooked that this is a system that is clearly built for convenience, not amazing sound quality, and as such, you should simply be aware that an ultracompact system like this just can't perform the way bigger, even similarly priced systems can.
While we appreciate that the overall design of the slim Size 0 is solid, the iPod docking unit is somewhat fragile-feeling. The dock is both a stand to keep the system upright and a typical iPod dock.
When closed, it folds away neatly into the system's body. It's a neat concept but practically, the dock's 5mm rotating cylinder doesn't reflect the solidity the rest of the unit exhibits. This is especially important to note if you'll be taking the system on rough-and-ready treks -- tiny plastic components are known for their stand-up ruggedness.
The Size 0's incredible lack of body more than justifies its unimpressive sound performance, and sets it in the niche of truly ultra-portable dedicated iPod docks. At £40 it's reasonably well priced as long as you don't treat the fold-away docking too badly.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday