Best portable party gear for the summer

The sun's out, friends are over and you have a BBQ grilling up some burgers. Whats more could you want from this perfect summer scene? Gadgets thats what - lots and lots of gadgets.

Whether its a quick fry-up with friends, a picnic with pals or a full-blown outdoor rave, we have the gadgets covered. So read on to find out exactly what portable kit you want to bring to a party.

Best for wireless tunes

Gear4 AirZone Series 1

It wouldn't be a decent party if friends didn't have a speaker dock to argue over the pick of the next song. Making use of Apple’s still brilliant Airplay tech, the AirZone can play music streamed from any iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, and has a 3.5 mm line in and even an FM radio.

Made specifically for iPod and iPhone certification, using the AirZone to its fullest will mean you’ll have to choose your pals according to their brand of smartphone. Expect possible Android squabbles with this one.

Price: £199

Get it here.

 

Best for a Garden party 

Subbuteo Inflatable Soccer Pitch

Those too young to remember Subbuteo should jolly well be ashamed of themselves, though they might get around this retro-cum-ridiculous Inflatable Soccer Pitch a tad quicker than most ageing tabletop flick-to-kick footie aficionados. 

It takes four-player gaming to a new level, with "walls" to bounce the ball off and a couple of under-sized goals to pepper during the half-time breaks at Euro 2012. 

Measuring 20ft x 12ft - though best used with some space around it - it needs some proper grass underfoot – and a big garden to boot – though as it’s more FIFA Street than anything resembling the beautiful game, tarmac could work, too. No word yet on accessories like floodlights, stadium seating or miniature picket fencing. 

Price: £295

Get it here

 

Best for BBQs 

Etón Soulra XL solar powered iPhone dock

With summer almost in full swing it's time to harvest the power of that 5,505C fireball in the sky. With eight speakers, two mini subwoofers, a 22W amp and an iPhone dock, Etón's Soulra XL is a serious barbeque boombox – and it doesn't have any pesky cables. 

Equipped with a large retractable solar panel that draws-in power for around five hours of music at a time, the Soulra XL can play music from an iPhone and charge one up in four hours. Ideal for garden parties and picnics, the Soulra's iPhone dock is stowed beneath a splash-proof glass cover and also features a gel-cushioned carry strap. 

Price: £199

Get it here.

 

Best for cold beer and a sit-down

Gelert @ Surfdome.com Beer Cooler

Maybe it's our age, but we find the worst parties are those with warm beer and nowhere to sit. Solve both conundrums with this ice storage cooler from Gelert @ Surfdome

Manufactured with a leak-proof liner, this 27cm tall cooler has a zip closure and, best of all, an adjustable carry strap and a padded lid for flaking out on after one too many cans of nicely chilled Skol. 

Price: £25

Get it here.

 

Best for party feet

Cushe Shucoon Slide surf slipper

The sun is out. No wait, it's gone again. Replaced with torrential rain and thunderstorms. Its a shoe-ruining summer, that's for sure. So dodge the muddy trainers with this shoe for all seasons from Cushe. 

Built to withstand the vagaries of a British summer, this pair of Shucoon Slide shoes from Cushe is designed with an optional toe cover that can either be pulled-up over your freezing pinkies, or literally stomped all over in the unlikely event of prolonged good weather. 

Transforming from shoe to sandal and made from organic cotton and hemp, the soft Shucoon Slide is light and comfy, and they slap together well for easy stowing. 

Price: £50

Get it here.

 

Best for vinyl

Clearaudio Concept MC Turntable

If your party is going to be indoors and all about the music, you’ll have sound quality higher up the shopping list than convenience – and that means vinyl. Plus it looks cooler, important to consider should you be trying to impress.

This Concept MC turntable package from Clearaudio matches an awesomely simple yet classy design and smooth outer casing with high-quality components and the promised flawless sound quality. 

Not for resting beer cans near, for sure, but best of all, it’s idiot-proof. The folk at the Clearaudio factory in Germany have endeavored to deliver a completely finished, fuss-free product, so all adjustments – cartridge alignment, anti-skating and tracking – have already been tweaked to perfection. 

Price: £1650

Get it here.

 

Best for bigscreen gaming

Epson MG-850HD iPad projector with carry handle

Oh, that kind of party … the type where grown men sit around drinking, eating and trying to kill each other on Call of Duty. Pick a wall, aim projector, fire Xbox all over it. Easy. This plug 'n' play PJ from Epson has a HDMI input for hooking-up consoles of any flavour, but its real tricks are built-in speakers and iPad support. The former means there's no need for downright dangerous cables, with the added bonus that the MG-850HD's 10W stereo speakers aren't powerful enough to totally dominate a room.

iPad support comes from a rear-mounted dock that doesn't replicate the screen of its guest, but instead extracts all video files it can find stored on it. The 3LCD projection is only 720p pixels, but in practice that proves more than enough for some casual gaming – and plenty enough for a Wii, of course. 

Set-up is easy; the MG-850HD boasts manual horizontal and vertical lens shift levers that get the image dead-on to a screen from almost anywhere in a room, with a 1.2 manual zoom, too. Comes complete with carry handle and bag. 

Price: £650

Get it here.

 

Best for pocket parties

Lil’ Wiz mini vibration speaker

Young fools on packed trains might pretend otherwise, but their treble-heavy crimes against commuters only serve to underline that today’s super-slim gadgets are an aural disgrace. Created to give a little extra to digital audio stored on devices with Bluetooth, Anthem AVS is selling the Lil’ Wiz, a vibrating cone-shaped pocket speaker capable of turning any flat surface into a basic sound system. 

Designed to be placed on windows or tables, and without wires or cables, Lil’ Wiz uses a Lithium battery that is recharged via USB, and features a 10W speaker capable of 360-degree omni-directional sound (though that does mean sacrificing stereo). Comes in two flavours – the Bluetooth 2.0 version, or the TF model – the latter with a Micro SD Card slot instead of Bluetooth. 

Price: £75

Get it here.

 

Best for showing off party pics

Pico Genie A100 extended battery, projector & speaker for iPhone 4/4S

We’ve all seen those tiny Pico projectors that, while a nice idea, come with a mess of cables and clutter. Now comes the sleek version – the Pico Genie A100 iPhone sleeve. A miniature projector accessory case that slips around an iPhone 4 or 4S, it creates a 50-inch image on a wall while charging its host. 

Great for photos stored on an iPhone, this Pico also works with video. It doesn't project what’s showing on your iPhone’s screen, but instead uses its own software to fetch and present any photo or video content from a phone or any app that allows for video output – and that means Netflix, YouTube and iPlayer. 

It’s more a statement than a bona fide breakthrough; the LED-powered projection reaches only 15 lumens, so it only works in a total blackout, and the 640x360 pixel resolution is pretty slight, but on convenience it's a winner – it even has a built-in speaker and recharges via USB. 

Price: £250

Get it here

 

Best for getting the party moving

House of Marley Bag of Rhythm

Should the sun go in, it start raining or you just fancy a change of scenery, the House of Marley Bag of Rythm is about the best way to bring the party with you.

Using an iPhone dock or aux input, should you want to use something non-Apple made, to get your tracks going through the speakers is a nice touch. The really good thing about the Bag of Rhythm is how loud and powerful it is, even off batteries. More than enough to keep tunes pumping out to those around you and not be overshadowed by noise from the great outdoors.

The bag itself is removable from the unit and comes in different colours, should you not be a huge fan of the khaki colour. The whole thing is also recyclable, so you get eco brownie points as well.

Price: £239

Get it here.

Like the sound of our party gadgets? Let us know in the comments below ...