Model: G-Zip + G-Pop
Compatible: All iPads, iPhones + iPods except iPod shuffle 3G
G-Project G-Pop Wireless + G-Zip Wired Travel Speakers
Last year, young budget speaker company G-Project unveiled G-Grip, a very aggressively priced challenger to Jawbone's Jambox. Today, we're looking at two new G-Project speakers called G-Zip ($20) and G-Pop ($40). While they're not perfect, they're both attractively designed, benefitting from resilient enclosures and other neat design features that will endear them to certain users.
Despite the fact that G-Zip and G-Pop are two of the least expensive speakers we’ve tested, they’ve been designed to feel all but bulletproof—their ribbed plastic and rubberized sides are a carryover from G-Grip, which used its distinctive accordion-like shape to resist over 1,300 pounds of crushing pressure. Thanks to flip-out metal rings, G-Zip and G-Pop both look somewhat like grenades, each with a single silver and black speaker driver firing upwards from the top. Two hard clear plastic stripes run above the drivers, providing just enough protection to keep them from being damaged by an errant finger. G-Pop is available in black or red versions, G-Zip in silver or blue. Each comes with a Micro-USB charging cable for an eight-hour rechargeable battery.
The differences between G-Zip and G-Pop are only apparent upon closer inspection. For $20, G-Zip gives you a retractable 3.5mm audio plug and a total of two lights, one white for power status and the other red for charging status. At double the price, G-Pop adds a third light, blue for Bluetooth wireless pairing status, and replaces the 3.5mm audio plug with play/pause/phone, volume up, and volume down buttons. Each has a power switch on the bottom, but G-Pop’s moves between off, “aux,” and Bluetooth modes with a pair button; G-Zip’s is either off or “aux.” If you want to connect G-Pop to your device’s headphone port, its USB charging cable doubles as a 3.5mm cable for wired audio.
In regular speaker mode, G-Zip and G-Pop are basically identical to one another. They’re each monaural, combining left and right channel audio together, with midrange-focused sound that has modest treble and very limited mid-bass range. Not surprisingly, their sound is flat, but it’s not otherwise bad—pretty much as expected for the speaker size and pricing. Each is loud enough to serve as a powerful little standalone speaker, with a peak volume that’s markedly beyond the capabilities of any iOS device: roughly twice the top output of a full-sized iPad, if not more. However, they both strain and become noticeably distorted at their top output levels, so you’re best off turning your device down below its 85% mark.
G-Pop has the ability to double as a speakerphone, but it’s not a particularly good one. Callers said that our audio sounded distant starting at only two feet away from the speaker, and although we initially liked the louder volume we achieved on our end, intelligibility suffered on both sides of the call. While we’d have no issue recommending either of these speakers for playback purposes, we’d be less inclined to suggest using G-Pop for telephone calls.
The biggest selling points of G-Zip and G-Pop are their price tags. Handsome-looking and strong-feeling rechargeable speakers for $20 and $40 make a ton of sense, and the only question users will have is whether to spend the extra cash for the wireless version. If you’re considering G-Pop for the added convenience, the answer should be yes; for speakerphone purposes, we’d say no. Both of these speakers merit a B+ rating, and will please most of the users who would consider buying them.