Philips GoGear HDD1630
In the saturated market of micro-hard-drive digital audio players, Philips's newest addition will find a place in the top third, though not quite as high up as the Creative Zen Micro Photo. On the surface, the Philips GoGear Jukebox 6GB (HDD1630) makes a fantastic impression, with a glossy-black casing, a vivid color screen (1.5 inches and 65K), and a blue-backlit, touch-sensitive navigation pad. Looks aside, the GoGear HDD1630 packages nearly every desirable attribute at a very palatable price of $189.99.
At 3.4 by 2.1 by 0.7 inches and 3 ounces, the Philips GoGear HDD1630 is approximately the same size and weight as a deck of cards. But in spite of the GoGear's classy appearance and extensive features, it's clear how Philips kept costs low. The sleek-black casing attracts fingerprints like a picnic beckons ants, and the included protective case provides very little protection. In addition, the firmware is noticeably flawed: The player momentarily freezes when powering up/down and transferring files. The touch-pad navigation system is hypersensitive during scrolling and not very intuitive. Finally, the player is compatible only with PCs due to a contractual agreement with the PlaysForSure conglomerate, making this device unsuitable for Apple users. However, such foibles notwithstanding, the Philips GoGear Jukebox 6GB provides an appealing combination of cost, quality, and features.
For less than 200 bucks, you get 6GB of storage, an FM tuner, a voice recorder, and compatibility with subscription-music services such as Nano, which has none of these features. The Philips GoGear HDD1630 also allows photo viewing in thumbnail (in a 3-by-3 grid), full screen, and slide-show modes. Album art is supported as well. Unfortunately, the HDD1630 does not act as a USB host, so you cannot directly off-load photos from a digital camera.. Compare that to the $250 4GB
In our tests, the Philips GoGear HDD1630 offered excellent sound quality, even when using the included earbuds, which we still recommend swapping out, as they barely block outside noise. The player's battery life also proved impressive in CNET Labs' tests; we squeezed out just more than the rated 18 hours per charge.