- Review Price: £49.99
- 3.5mm inputs
- iPod sockets (2 models)
- 2 mid-range drivers
- Angry Birds-themed design
Gear4 showed off a trio of Angry Birds-themed audio docks at this year’s IFA in Berlin. Still haven’t had enough of the irate avians? Need a dock for your iPhone or Android device? Read on.
There are three model’s in Gear4’s new officially-sanctioned Angry Birds audio range, featuring three top characters from the games. The most famous of all is the, erm, red bird, generally thought of as the series’s main protagonist.
This dock is the simplest, and cheapest, of the lot. Unlike the majority of docks we review, it’s not specifically for iPhones. There’s no 30-pin Apple socket here. Instead, a 3.5mm input cable sticks out of the back, ready to plug into any audio output. This model will retail for £49.99 once it crashes into shelves – Gear4 says within the next couple of months. Yes, in time for Christmas.
To make it a bit neater than a mere speaker, a little faux-wooden plastic dock is included. It’s just an inert piece of plastic, but it gives you somewhere to put your phone or MP3 player. Although the red bird is probably the most popular character of the lot, there’s no red birdie dock designed for iPhones. Gear4 says it’s looking to cater for the growing Android Market. Nice to see someone doing so, for once.
If you’re willing to pay another twenty pounds, you can “upgrade” to the black bird, or the green piggie. The bird noir is fairly similar to the red bird model, but the fake wooden dock isn’t just there for show this time – it’s attached and lets you plug in an iOS device using the proprietary Apple socket. The dock is open at the sides, so will accommodate iPads as well as iPhones, iPod Touches and iPod Classic models.
Last of all, the green pig is arguably the most traditional of the lot. Atop the pig’s head is an Apple socket, for iPods and iPhones. Like the black bird model, it retails for £69.99. Both the pig and black bird offer a 3.5mm auxiliary input as well as an Apple socket, letting you plug in other kinds of phones and MP3 players.
These docks aren’t going to class-up your living room – they’re made of shiny plastic and feature prominent speaker grilles on each side and to the bottom – so if that’s your aim you’d be much better off with something like the Philips Fidelio DS3020. But c’mon, it’s the Angry Birds characters…
The £50 or greater price tags may not sit well when these are essentially novelty items, but the included drivers offer better audio quality than you see in real bargain basement docks. There are three drivers in total – two mid-range speakers and a subwoofer. A trio of drivers is surprising for a device this size – the Philips DS3020 only offers two drivers.
Gear4 claims the docks, which all use the same set of speaker units, offer 30W of power, but this figure shouldn’t be compared directly with non-subwoofer models – a dedicated bass driver will always beef-up these numbers. We did get to hear the units in action, although we’ll admit that a noisy conference show floor is only marginally better than a working quarry as a place to judge sound quality in.
The subwoofer does its job well, providing the Angry Birds speakers with a beefy sound that will fill kids’ bedrooms with aplomb. What we’re less sure of is whether the smaller mid/treble drivers can offer the fidelity to elevate these docks above the unfortunate gimmick tag. We’ll most likely take a closer look at once of these speakers closer to its retail launch to see if it can bash out tunes at a quality that’s really worth listening to.
The green pig and black bird models both come with a remote control – the standard middling-quality bubble button type – and will also charge your iPhone or iPad. The simpler red bird dock can’t offer either of these features, but then it does save you twenty quid and let you plop the most famous figure in mobile gaming on your mantelpiece. But is that privilege worth £50? The Angry Birds speakers from Gear4 will be on sale in the UK in good time for Christmas.
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