Sound quality is helped by Philip's inclusion of a rather decent set of canal style earphones. Again, these are not Sony quality, but they are still very comfortable and produce a fine sound with solid bass and good definition. A pity Philips doesn’t supply different size sets of rubber ear buds – the one set you do get are just a bit on the small side.
Video features tend to be limited on such small screens, but the sound is excellent
Fortunately, Philips fully recognises the value of playlists and tracks can easily be added to an on-board list or any number of them can be synchronized via an MTP media player. Beyond media playback the Opus also comes fitted with a rather fine RDS FM radio, complete with 20 pre-sets and an off-air record facility and a voice recorder. All recordings are encoded as MP3 files.
Rummage about in the menu and the Opus will let you set its computer connection to either MSC or MTP so Linux and Mac users won't be left spinning in the wind. Philips claim the 880mAh battery is good for 30 hours of audio and six of video but, as is usually the case, we found those numbers to be a just a shade optimistic and only managed 26 and 4.5 hours, respectively.
The Opus comes bundled with a re-branded version of ArcSoft's MediaConvertor for video reformatting and a video download tool for snagging videos from YouTube and the like. Buyers also get a free 30-day trial membership of Napster To Go, the chance to download a free audio book from Audible and plastic slip case.
At £99 for the 8GB and £129 for the 16GB version, the Opus seems reasonable value for money considering you pay around £20 more for a 16GB Samsung P3 and a whole lot more for a 16GB Sony X-Series Walkman. Indeed, both of those devices are better video players but, if most of your time is going to be spent listening to music, we reckon the Opus makes a fair degree of fiscal sense.
The Opus is another solid effort from Philips, its conservative looks, slow start up time and merely adequate video performance notwithstanding. In its favour it produces a very good sound, is extremely easy to use, has a very fine FM radio, decent format support, comes bundled with a pair of earphones that you don't need to immediately replace and doesn't cost the earth. All Philips needs to do now is make a version with a 4in VGA screen and a microSD expansion slot and we’ll be singing its praises. ®
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Sony X-Series Walkman
Philips GoGear SA5295 Opus
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.