Philips GoGear Spark review: Philips GoGear Spark

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The Good The Philips GoGear Spark packs music, photos, radio, voice recording, long battery life, and a color screen into an affordable little package.

The Bad The GoGear Spark is light on format support, voice recordings are noisy, storage capacity is meager, and not everyone will appreciate its wearable design.

The Bottom Line In the world of budget MP3 players, the Philips GoGear Spark is a diamond in the rough, offering an attractive balance of features, style, and usability.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 8

The GoGear Spark is a bite-size MP3 player from Philips with an affordable price ($49 for 2GB or $59 for 4GB), well-rounded features, and a unique design. If you're looking for a small MP3 player that won't break the bank, the Spark is hard to beat.

Ever since Apple scored a hit with the microscopic, clip-on iPod Shuffle, competitors such as Samsung, SanDisk, and Iriver have been busy making their own wearable MP3 player designs. Unfortunately, most of these itty-bitty MP3 players offer only basic features and include either small monochromatic displays or no displays at all. The Philips GoGear Spark is one of the first budget-friendly MP3 players to hit the market that offers the convenience of a lightweight, wearable design, while maintaining a relatively large 1.5-inch OLED color display.

The GoGear Spark includes a short USB cable, average-sounding earbuds, and a braided lanyard for wearing the player around your neck.

For a device that measures 1.75 inches square and 0.5 inch thick, including a 1.5-inch display doesn't leave much room for anything else. Some of the Spark's controls are located on the sides, such as the volume button, options button, and power/hold switch, but mostly you control the player by squeezing it. Taking a page from iRiver's Clix series of MP3 players, Philips designed the Spark with squeezable edges, allowing four directions of control. Pinching the top or bottom edges of the Spark 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 eight main menu icons (Music, Photos, Radio, Recording, Folder, Personalize, Settings and Now Playing). In general, the Spark is easy to navigate, and offers attractive, intuitive menus and responsive controls.

Love it or hate it, the Spark is designed to be worn. Unlike the iPod Shuffle or Sansa Clip, the Spark'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. Of course, you can always go necklace-free and store the Spark in your pocket, but be sure to engage the button-hold switch to prevent the pressure-sensitive screen from skipping tracks accidentally.

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