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Philips GoGear SA5200BT review: Philips GoGear SA5200BT

Philips GoGear SA5200BT

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Donald Bell
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Donald Bell

Senior Editor / How To

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.

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4 min read

6.7

Philips GoGear SA5200BT

The Good

The Philips GoGear SA5245BT MP3 player includes music, video, and photo playback, FM radio, voice recording, Rhapsody subscription music support, above-average earbuds, and wireless stereo Bluetooth audio.

The Bad

The Philips GoGear SA5245BT isn't flashy or slim, and it's not the most affordable player in town. Videos require conversion before syncing, and audio enhancement features are few.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a Bluetooth-compatible MP3 player or you want to make the most of your Rhapsody music subscription, the Philips GoGear SA5245BT offers a well-rounded set of features at an attractive price.

The GoGear SA5245BT is one of Philips' best-executed MP3 players in the past year, offering an attractive design along with advanced features such as Bluetooth wireless audio and Rhapsody subscription music DNA. There's nothing revolutionary about the GoGear SA5245BT, but at $130 (4GB) and $169 (8GB), Philips strikes a nice balance of price and features.

Design
At first glance, the GoGear SA5245BT looks just like the rest of Philips' GoGear lineup--thick, glossy, and a bit generic. The GoGear SA5245BT's 2.8-inch screen is larger than the 2.2-inch display found on the similar-looking GoGear SA6045 and offers a maximum resolution of 320x240. A functional but uninspired four-direction navigation pad takes up the right side of the GoGear SA5245BT and makes it a poor choice for lefties. The GoGear SA5245BT's 2.3-inch x 0.4-inch x 4.2-inch dimensions closely match the size of the iPod Classic, while its screen and button layout could be mistaken for a Creative Zen.

The GoGear SA5245BT's distinguishing design feature is its uncharacteristically cool graphic interface, which finally tosses out the baby-blue color scheme found on many of Philips MP3 players. The GoGear SA5245BT's main menu uses a vertical list of categories including music, video, pictures, radio, recordings, and settings. Taking a page from Apple's iPod menu design, the GoGear SA5245BT's music, video, and photo listings include thumbnail graphics of album artwork, movie stills, and images, respectively. The GoGear SA5245BT's music playback screen employs full-screen album artwork for files that have been embedded with covers through Windows Media Player or Rhapsody jukebox software.

Features
The standout features on the GoGear SA5245BT are its support for Rhapsody subscription music channels and its wireless Bluetooth audio integration. The GoGear SA5245BT isn't the first or least expensive MP3 player to pull off this unique one-two punch, but it makes an attractive option for those of you looking for a more handsome MP3 player than the Insignia Pilot, and less expensive than the Haier Ibiza Rhapsody.

The GoGear SA5245BT includes music playback support for MP3, WMA, and AAC files, however, users who really want to get the most from the device should give the Rhapsody-to-Go subscription music service a whirl. Rhapsody users will benefit from the GoGear SA5245BT's Rhapsody Channel main menu option, which offers a rotating selection of new music. A free 30-day Rhapsody-to-Go trial subscription is included with the purchase of the GoGear SA5245BT.

As a video player, the GoGear SA5245BT does an adequate job. Convenient features such as adjustable brightness, multispeed scanning, and auto-resume, make the GoGear SA5245BT's video player a breeze to use. The GoGear SA5245BT only supports the WMV video format, however, so if you habitually watch videos on-the-go, expect to spend some time converting files in Windows Media Player or the included Philips video software.

Bluetooth audio setup on the GoGear SA5245BT is a snap, requiring a one-time setup with the device you're attempting to pair it with. The GoGear SA5245BT's Bluetooth connection can also be used to send music files from the player to your computer or other compatible devices.

The remaining features of the GoGear SA5245BT are about what you'd expect from any comparable iPod alternative. The GoGear SA5245BT's music playback feature includes EQ settings, shuffle mode, and ID3 tag sorting (including an album art view). The photo viewer built into the GoGear SA5245BT supports JPEG images, which can be grouped together in albums using Windows Media Player. The included FM radio offers decent reception and includes multiple station presets. Voice recordings made with the GoGear SA5245BT get encoded to low-fidelity, monophonic WAV files which are useful for voice memos, but not much else.

Performance
The sound quality of the GoGear SA5245BT is better than most players we've seen from Philips. The boost in audio quality is the result of both the higher-quality in-canal earbuds included with the GoGear SA5245BT, and a new Philips sound enhancement technology dubbed FullSound. Philips' FullSound audio enhancement is switched on by default and does a great job of maximizing the performance of the included headphones. Sound snobs who wouldn't dream of using bundled headphones or a blanket EQ setting like FullSound will prefer the more robust sound enhancement features found on Sony or Cowon MP3 players. That said, out of the box, the GoGear SA5245BT and its bundled earbuds deliver better sound performance than Apple's iPod.

Video playback performance on the GoGear SA5245BT is above average given its price and screen size. With a maximum frame rate of 30 frames per second, the GoGear SA5245BT delivers smooth, relatively crisp video, provided the source material is high quality. The biggest drawback of the GoGear SA5245BT's video player is its lousy native format support, which requires you to convert videos on your PC prior to transfer.

We should also note that the initial GoGear SA5245BT review unit sent to us from Philips had a difficult time playing videos while transmitting audio over Bluetooth. A firmware update resolved the issue entirely.

Philips rates the GoGear SA5245BT's battery life at an impressive 30 hours for audio playback and a respectable 6 hours for video.

6.7

Philips GoGear SA5200BT

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 6
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