The GoGear SA2825 is one of Philips' most attractive and compact MP3 players. Available in only one color (silver) and one capacity (2GB), the GoGear SA2825 ($49) offers a healthy amount of features at an affordable price.
Measuring 1.5 inches square and a slender 0.5 inch thick, the GoGear SA2825 is not just pocket-friendly--it's designed to be worn. Unlike the iPod Shuffle or Sansa Clip, the GoGear SA2825's design does not have a built-in clip; however, an included neck strap can be threaded through a loophole on the corner of the player.
The GoGear SA2825's semitransparent rounded chrome face conceals its 1-inch monochrome display and also doubles as the device's navigation control. Taking a page from iRiver's Clix series of MP3 players, Philips designed the GoGear SA2825 with squeezable edges, allowing four directions of control. Squeezing the top or bottom edges of the GoGear SA2825 allows you to scroll through lists of music or FM radio frequencies, while squeezing left or right allows you to skip through songs or rotate through each of the five main menu icons (Music, Radio, Recording, Folder, and Options).
On the top edge of the GoGear SA2825 you'll find a button for backing out of menus, and a play/pause button that doubles as a power switch. A volume rocker switch takes up most of the right side of the GoGear SA2825, leaving a mini USB port and a dedicated Record button on the left side. If you're concerned about the GoGear SA2825's squeezable navigation misfiring in your pocket, the bottom edge of the GoGear SA2825 includes a sliding hold switch that deactivates the player's controls.
Overall, the GoGear SA2825 takes the prize as Philips' most elegant and stylish MP3 player, and ironically, its least expensive. The GoGear SA2825's style comes at the price of practicality, however, because its reflective chrome screen is difficult to read in direct sunlight.
For less than $50, the GoGear SA2825 packs an decent amount of features, including MP3 and WMA audio playback, FM radio, and voice recording. Noticeably absent from the GoGear SA2825 is support for Audible audiobooks or DRM-protected subscription music tracks--features included on the comparably priced SanDisk Sansa Clip.
Also included on the GoGear SA2825 is a selection of eight EQ presets, including a custom five-band graphic EQ. The product manual for the GoGear SA2825 mentions a radio recording capability, but we couldn't get this feature to work.
The GoGear SA2825 offers average-sounding audio quality and plenty of volume. The SA2825's presentation of higher frequencies is crisp and clear, allowing high-hats and guitar to shine without sounding brittle. Set with the EQ flat, the GoGear SA2825's low-frequency performance was just average. We tried sweetening the GoGear SA2825's low end with built-in EQ, but only succeeded in turning those frequencies into mush. Normally we wouldn't expect knockout sound from budget-price MP3 players, but recent players such as the Samsung S2 Pebble, Creative Zen Stone Plus, and Sansa Clip have proven that you don't need to sacrifice sound quality in small, affordable products.
The GoGear SA2825's voice recordings are encoded to an unflattering 8kHz mono WAV file, and although recordings are relatively free from background noise, the voice quality is somewhat muffled.
Philips rates the GoGear SA2825's battery life at 20 hours of continuous music playback. We'll update this review with our own CNET Labs results once battery testing is complete.