Philips GoGear Opus personal media player
Some small screen shortcomings, but sounds sweet
Review When we reviewed the diminutive Philips GoGear Spark MP3 player back in March, we were quietly impressed. Now that Philips has introduced the larger Opus, it’s time to see if the Spark was just a flash in the pan.
Philips GoGear SA5295 Opus
Philips has clearly followed the old axiom of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' because the Opus has similar design traits to its previous PMPs. Still, if the Opus looks a little old fashioned, it remains smart and solid in its gloss black and brushed aluminium case. At 107x11x57mm and weighing 95g, it's very similar to Samsung's P3, although that has a 3in touch screen, while the Opus sports a non-touch 2.8in 320x240 affair.
When it comes to using the Opus, Philips has decided against trying to re-invent the wheel and the upshot is that navigating the very menu structure and control layout is simplicity itself. Physically, the Opus features a volume rocker on the top along with Option and Menu/Back buttons plus a four-way navigation pad on the front fascia. The centre of the navigation pad houses a play/pause/power on/off button.
At the bottom of the player sits a 3.5mm audio jack, miniUSB port and lock slider. We are not entirely sure that's the best place for a headphones jack – it doesn't actually get in the way but, just like sleeping with a close relative, it does feel rather unnatural. Incidentally, the Opus lacks either an external speaker or a memory expansion slot.
As well as the usual ID3 tag library layout, content can also be viewed by folder or for audio files with a cover art view. The latter displays your album covers in a 3x5 grid – just highlight the album you want to access and click to play. CoverFlow it's not, but its still a nice little feature, as is the handy virtual Now Playing button at the end of the main menu.
Untouchable: control buttons hamper the screen size in this form factor
Another feature worthy of comment is that, when navigating through long lists, you can hold the navigation arrow down and the player will start to flip through the letters of the alphabet, rather than title by title. It’s an idea nicked from the iPod, but one worth nicking.
re: screen size
The Archos 9 looks like blurring the line between an MP3 player and a PDA, for people with 9" pockets.
"Another feature worthy of comment is that, when navigating through long lists, you can hold the navigation arrow down and the player will start to flip through the letters of the alphabet, rather than title by title. It’s an idea nicked from the iPod, but one worth nicking."
This idea has been on GoGear mp3 players for a number of years now; so did iPod nick it from GoGear or vice-versa. Apple are not unknown for adopting good and often naturally intuitive ideas!
the key issue isn't screen size
This is the third generation of sound devices making progress, only to be hijacked by visualists. The useful functionality, which could be used for good sound playback, is piped into pictures, and handling or listening suffers. Why is a 4 inch screen better than 3 inch one? Why not wait for a 21 inch beauty? Or why not get a media laptop?
These things are all much better than tape walkmen. I enjoyed the step-up that the Shuffle brought, even with the earbud headphones, I'm moving on, for two reasons mainly: I'tunes has lost its simplicity, and the useful USP file access has been blocked by my IT department.
What had good sound, and is simple and enjoyable to use? Philips, as a hi-fi company, had a chance, but the enhanced MP3 playback of Creative or Sony made the front running - I ended up getting an X-FI.
OLED, cameras, bluetooth etc, are a risk of distraction from the main job.
Back at AC #2
No, not all bundled phones are "shit". The phones that come with a Sony S639 are pretty good. The bottom line is you shouldn't have to pay $500 for phones (Shure's RRP for a set of SE510s) on top of the cost of your player. Supplying terrilble phones is a con Apple have been allowed to get away with for far too many years. But be that as it may, the problem with Apple products is only partly down to the quality of the standard phones, its also down the electronics. I recently tried my son's iPod Touch through a set of Sennheiser HD465s. What a racket! I'm concerned enough about sound quality to not use an Apple music player.
Back at AC
Don't talk total pish. And fanboi, please. How old are you?
Everyone knows packed in headphones are shit - you must have mumbling ears. Paying top dollar for something like a top end ipod or sony walkman and using the pack ins is like hooking up a blu ray player to a CRT.
And you have the cheek to call me deaf.
I'm concerned enough about sound quality to use Shure 500s.