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If you're not tempted by the iPod nano, this competitor could excite. The new Philips GoGear comes in three versions: the SA6015 (1GB), the SA6025 (2GB) and the SA6045 (4GB). Each of these players are identical, despite the model numbers, they just have different memory capacities.
We're taking a look at the 2GB model. For around £79, this player promises a generous feature set and certainly beats the nano in terms of affordability (which is £99 for the 2GB model) and usefulness. But is this enough to tempt you away from Apple's promise of stylishness and ease of use?
After defeating the desperately unfriendly packaging -- why do we have to hack into these things with scissors? -- our first impression of this new Philips MP3 player was that it would suit a company executive. The glossy screen is quite reflective and the back of the player is finished with an odd brushed-charcoal effect.
As a landscape-format player, the controls bunch together on the right. Oddly, the central play/pause button isn't used to select menu options. Instead, the right and left keys are used, and a dedicated menu button returns you to the main menu. This takes some getting used to.
A mini-USB port accompanies the 3.5mm headphone jack and a manual lock switch on the bottom. Why the headphones plug in here is a mystery, as it means either the player needs to be horizontal in your pocket, or else you have a headphone plug poking you in the leg.
First and foremost, this is an MP3 player, and as such supports MP3 and WMA music files (protected content from certain music stores is fine too). With only a pair of gigabytes of memory to play with, movies are pretty much out of the question. Despite this, the video option is right at the top of the list of options in the main menu, with music taking third place. We're not entirely sure what the intention was behind this, but who are we to question the priorities of the Dutch?
The menu is similar to the one on the iPod in many respects, with its plain, light background and letter that pops onto the screen as you're scrolling through songs or artists to show you whereabouts you are.
Unfortunately, there is one major -- nay, inexcusable -- flaw. The menu is almost as frustrating as having an itch on the sole of your foot while you're wearing skis. The delay between pressing a button to navigate the menus and the system responding is an irritating half-second. This makes quick navigation almost impossible and single-handedly hinders an otherwise pleasant MP3 player.
Other features include an FM radio with space for ten presets, and a handy voice recorder for students to tape lectures they're too hungover to attend. There's also a simple slide-show option for looking through your JPG photo collection, or you can simply browse pages comprising six thumbnails.