The Philips GoGear SA6185 is an affordable, easy-to-use portable video player with a glossy, streamlined design and a modest set of features. With a retail price $159, the Philips GoGear SA6185's low price tag and larger-than-average screen are the only attributes that help this otherwise bland gadget stand out from the herd.
The Philips GoGear SA6185 bears the generic stamp of a product designed for the widest possible appeal. Its unremarkable form is neither too big, too small, too masculine, nor too feminine. A reflective, high-gloss finish covers the curved, black front of the device, leaving the remainder housed in a combination of metallic plastic and black aluminum. Measuring 3 inches by 5 inches by 0.5 inch, with a 3.5-inch standard ratio screen, the GoGear's dimensions fall somewhere between an iPod Classic and a Sony PSP.
The Philips GoGear SA6185 is controlled by a traditional four-way navigation pad located to the right of the screen with a Menu button just above it. At the center of the navigation pad is a play button that doubles as a power switch. The top right edge of the GoGear includes a slim rocker switch for adjusting volume, and the opposite edge conceals a button hold switch. A dedicated playlist button is located on the right edge of the device, offering a quick way to add music to a personal on-the-go playlist. Overall, the GoGear's tactile, plastic controls feel intuitive and familiar, although left-handed users will find them frustrating.
The Philips GoGear SA6185's onscreen interface looks like one big yawn. The main menu's light-blue background and easily understood menu icons offer the inoffensively clean and polished look of a product designed by a committee. To Philips' credit, however, the GoGear's interface is remarkably uncluttered, both aesthetically and functionally.
The Philips GoGear SA6185 includes all the features we'd expect from a portable video player, including music, video, and photo playback, as well as less common features such as an FM radio and a voice recorder. Unfortunately, the conservative execution of each one of the GoGear's features is disappointing. For instance, the video player only accepts WMV format videos with a 320x240 resolution--so be prepared to convert and sync all your existing video content using Windows Media Player or the included Philips conversion software. The GoGear's music player accepts a scant two types of audio formats: MP3 and WMA audio (including DRM-protected WMA). Philips even figured out a way to make something as mundane as the photo viewer feel stifling, requiring us to convert and sync photos through Windows Media Player instead of a simple drag-and-drop operation.