We don't know about you, but we're beginning to believe press reports warning that music lovers are damaging their ears by listening to MP3 players at excessively high volumes. (But then, how else are we supposed to drown out the sound of our babbling colleagues?)

So in an effort to avoid a similar fate to Pete Townshend, whose world-beatingly loud guitar caused him permanent tinnitus, we grabbed PodGear's HouseParty and decided to chill out to some tunes at a more modest volume. Although it turns out that you too can have bleeding eardrums, as the 6W speakers really crank things up.

Clearly labelled connectors for the iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle are provided - a refreshing change from technology accessories that support one product as standard and call for additional outlay if you want to use it with a similar device. An iPod nano connector should be available in the near future.

You push the connector into place at the front of the HouseParty and then attach your music player. A blue LED light indicates you're plugged in. With the exception of the shuffle, for which you must manually adjust the volume on the player, you can use the plus and minus buttons located either side of your device's cradle to alter the volume. Confusingly, these look like screws but are actually touch-sensitive; you need merely glide your finger over them.

While you listen to your tunes, the HouseParty replenishes your player's battery, and there's a USB cable so you can synchronise your iPod with your PC- or Mac-based iTunes library.

PodGear HouseParty: Specs

  • 2.1 audio speakers and docking cradle with LED status light
  • 2x 6W output
  • connectors for iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle
  • 3.5mm USB cable
  • auxiliary output cable
  • 2.1 audio speakers and docking cradle with LED status light
  • 2x 6W output
  • connectors for iPod, iPod mini and iPod shuffle
  • 3.5mm USB cable
  • auxiliary output cable

OUR VERDICT

We were mightily impressed with the HouseParty. There are pricier - and probably better-sounding - products around, but if you simply want to enjoy your tracks without bits of plastic in your lugholes, this is for you.

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