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Philips Active PSA review: Philips Active PSA

The Philips PSA612 is compatible with WMA DRM 10, so you'll be able to use subscription services such as Napster To Go. Connecting to and transferring from Windows Media Player 10 is a breeze, and subscription performance is solid. However, if your tracks' licenses run out, the player will try to go to the next track in a laborious process that usually locks the user out, even with restart; reset is Play+Volume up for 2 seconds. The Philips PSA612 also has an FM tuner with 10 autoscannable presets. Reception clarity is good, though the autoscan tends to pick up any old signal.

The Philips PSA612's ShockLock feature doesn't activate automatically with a spill. Instead, it needs to be turned on manually, and it loads 4 to 12 songs into buffer memory before parking the hard drive into safe position. In addition, you can't ShockLock subscription files (this has to do with licenses), so the feature has more bark than bite. In fact, it simply turns your player into a 32MB flash player. On a positive note, we did intentionally drop the device several times with ShockLock active and inactive, and the player still works without a hiccup.

The PSA612 with its accessories. The armband is nice.

Sound quality from the Philips PSA612 is solid (80dB signal-to-noise ratio) but not exceptional. Good equalizer effects (Rock, RandB, Electronica, Hip Hop, Classical, and Jazz), measurable DBB bass effect, and crisp highs did manage to make it one of the better-sounding gym MP3 players we've heard, though not really loud, at only 4mW per channel. The included around-the-ear earbuds are both functional and solid-sounding. Battery life is rated for 12 hours, a below-average number. It takes 4 hours to charge completely and 1 hour for a 70 percent charge. We will update the review with CNET Labs-worthy transfer and battery-life scores as soon as they become available.

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