Exclusive hands-on: Philips GoGear SA2820 and SA2840

We've been given a big fat heads-up from Philips and got our hands on its brand spankin' new iPod shuffle competitor, the GoGear SA2820 MP3 player

Philips has had a line of consistently easy-to-use MP3 players to appeal to the screw-the-iPod-I'm-not-a-sodding-conformist crowd for some time, but to our knowledge it hasn't released anything to compete with the gym-friendly iPod shuffle. Until now.

The GoGear SA2820 is a 2GB £30 mini MP3 player with a miniature dot-matrix LCD screen, a reflective plastic finish and square form factor. Inside is support only for MP3, WMA and WAV files -- no AAC or protected WMA, we're afraid.

But it'll keep pumping tunes for about 20 hours and in our initial listening tests it sounds pretty decent, with good clarity and reasonable power.

This player is more realistically up against the Creative Zen Stone Plus -- something of a staff favourite here -- than the iPod shuffle, what with its screen and voice recorder built-in as standard. The shiny SanDisk Sansa Clip is in the same end of the market.

Each edge of the player's glossy face acts as a navigational button, like the iRiver Clix . And there's a tiny bit of lag when navigating the player, like the Zen Stone Plus. But overall it's a nice enough second MP3 player, albeit rather a dull one -- we'll be far more excited about the new Philips players we're told are just around the corner -- stay tuned, 'lips fans.

A 4GB version -- the SA2840 -- is also available with identical specifications, selling for £40. Both models are on sale from this month.

Expect our full review of the SA2820 (or as we're saying in the office, the Owl -- 'two eight two oh'? No? Suit yourselves) very soon.

Click through for some close-up photos until then, or go and read about spacecraft and product placement courtesy of our own Ian 'get well soon, buddy' Morris. -Nate Lanxon

Update: Read our full Philips SA2820 review

Here's the top of the player, its 3.5mm headphone socket and a couple of controls.

A standard mini USB socket makes charging and syncing easy, plus there's a dedicated voice-recording button and a slot for a lanyard.

On the left, the remarkably similar SanDisk Sansa Clip. On the right, well, you should know what that is .

 

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