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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox (30GB) review:

Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox (30GB)

The Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox comes with a pair of black headphones that have a rubbery coating, making them tangle prone and quick to catch on jacket zippers. They sounded great in our testing, producing an even, rich tone with enough bass, although they leak sound so that music at higher volumes can easily be heard by others.

The package also comes with a cloth slipcase, though you can't control the player while it's in the case, so you'll constantly be removing it. When you're ready to expand, Philips has a small line of compatible accessories, including a carrying case with a carabiner clip, a docking cradle for connecting to your stereo or TV, and a camera cable for loading photos from your camera without a PC.

The Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox features a simple side-scrolling interface, with all the different areas arranged on the right side of the main screen: Music, Pictures, Radio, Recordings, Settings, and Now Playing. Clicking the Menu button on any screen brings up contextual commands, such as assigning presets in the radio section. We're happy to see the voice recorder and the FM radio tuner/recorder, since all are missing from Apple's iPod. Unfortunately, you won't be able to record line-in sources unless you have the optional dock. When playing music, you can select from 10 preset equalizer settings, manually adjust the five-band equalizer, and turn on the SRS Wow bass enhancer. The player can handle MP3, protected WMA, and WAV tracks but will connect only with Windows XP PCs.

Photo integration is done well, with nice slide-show options and simultaneous viewing and listening. When you're viewing photos with music playing, you can control the music tracks with the top row of controls while using the scroll bar to look through photos so that you can move between tracks without leaving the photo section; you can't do that with the iPod. Also, the HD6330 can act as a USB host, so you can transfer photos over from a digital camera.

Loading the Philips GoGear HD6330 is simple, as it works seamlessly with Windows Media Player. The package includes an installation disc, but luckily there's no proprietary software to complicate things. You can load your own ripped songs with the included USB 2.0 cord or buy them from an online music service. The player supports WMP DRM 10 (sometimes known as Janus), so it works with subscription plans. We tested it with Napster 3.5 subscription content, and it loaded exactly as it should have.

The fact that the Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox's support phone number is right in the player's menus for easy location and that the number is staffed 7 days a week, 365 days a year is impressive. The Web site also holds a fine product support page with FAQs, firmware downloads, and an interactive troubleshooter. If your player isn't running right, know that it comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

The Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox's sound quality is nice and bright, even with the bundled headphones. Crisp highs and a presence of bass that the iPod can't quite match were the norm for all types of music. In the past, Philips's hard drive-based MP3 players have had some processor-performance issues, such as system crashes and slow navigation between files and/or menus. The HDD6330 is a vast improvement, though some users have reported similar bugginess and overall slow performance, especially when playing back long playlists and, in some instances, subscription files. Since we didn't experience any noticeable problems ourselves, all we can assume is that there might be some bad apples in the bunch.

In our testing, we were able to load songs at an average rate of 4.9MB per second over USB 2.0, which is on a par with what we've seen from other players. The Philips GoGear HDD6330 Jukebox is rated for 15 to 17 hours of battery life; different product literature has different numbers. CNET Labs measured 15.6 hours in a battery-drain test with the equalizer off, while we measured 17.5 hours in casual testing. Either battery time is good but not exceptional. Charging the battery takes 4 hours, although you can do a 70 percent fast charge in 1 hour. Sadly, the battery isn't user-replaceable.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

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