Gear4 AirZone Series 1
Good sound quality; easy set-up; includes FM tuner
Lightweight plastic casing; bass could be a bit stronger
£199.99 + shipping
Gear4 generally tends to concentrate on the more affordable end of the market, but it’s started to add a few slightly more upmarket speaker systems to its range recently – including the AirZone Series 1, which is its first speaker to use Apple’s AirPlay wireless technology.
The AirZone is still quite modestly priced, though, and its £199.99 price tag – just over $300 – is about half the price of most of its AirPlay rivals. In fact, at first glance we were worried that it might be a little too affordable, as its lightweight plastic casing does look and feel rather flimsy.
We soon changed our tune, though, as the AirZone actually works very well. Setting it up is easy, as you can either enter your Wi-Fi password using the remote control and the small LCD display on the front of the speaker, or download the Gear4 app that allows you to enter the password via your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. You’re not just limited to Wi-Fi streaming either, as the AirZone includes a dock unit for iOS devices, as well as an AUX input around the back. It’s got a built-in FM radio tuner too, which is a welcome bonus at this price.
This lightweight speaker also manages to produce a surprisingly robust sound. It’s clear and detailed on the higher notes, with a reasonably firm bass behind it. Gear4 doesn’t quote any figures on its web site, but we reckon the AirZone provides about 40W output – not quite in rave territory, but more than enough to liven up a dinner party or BBQ.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice
You’re not going to get an audiophile speaker system for £199.99, but the AirZone provides good sound quality for everyday music listening, along with a radio tuner and the convenience of AirPlay wireless streaming. It’s good to see Gear4 raising its sights, and bodes well for the other AirZone models that it is planning for later this year.