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Philips GoGear SA1355
So Philips has launched a new range of media players called the GoGear series. I find it rather ironic that a player this small has a name this long - the SA1355 (kidding). But let's see how it fares with regards to features and performance.
It's slim, and extremely lightweight. The reflective surface on the front gives the player an expensive and classy look. There's also the silver navigation pad for the volume, play/pause, and the forward, rewind and skip keys which adds to the look. The play/pause button is also used as the power switch. By keeping it pressed for about 3-4 seconds the player will shut down or start up. The SA1355 like most other players is also a polite player that is courteous enough to say 'Bye' when shutting down. What? No 'hello' when starting up?
On the top of the player you'll find the menu key along with the A-B loop key and the record button.
One side has the 3.5mm earphone socket and the microphone. And you can also see the Hold switch at the side.
There's the USB connector that slides out from the side opposite the mic. with the help of a slider switch located at the back of the player. Very 007 style. So there's no need for any wires though you do get a small extension cable for the USB just in case.
The interface, I have to say is quite boring and plain. The blue and yellow characters ultimately make the player look a little cheap. So that pretty much spoils the overall look.
There are no features that make the players different from any other MP3 player in any way. But it does come with 1GB of memory space and that's quite a lot for plenty of music. The player reads MP3 and WMA files, so there's no need to convert any. But you can, if required with the software provided.
The main menu has nothing but 4 icons—music, radio, recordings and folder view. There's no point in going into detail about these options obviously, but lets talk about their sub menus. For music, firstly you have the play modes for setting songs to be shuffled or repeated. The player also has a few presets for an EQ like dance, jazz, funk (why-ever would we need an option like that I'll never know), rock, hip-hop, classic and dance. There's also a manual setting so you can adjust the levels to your preference. Something even stranger is the setting for scroll speed - high, medium and low. Why would we need that? I'm thinking, wouldn't it be better to have the navigation at a realistic speed so it's easier to select songs and move through the menu quickly? I mean would anyone really want to go through the menus slowly?
There's also an option to delete any particular track. Directly from the player and let's not forget the voice recorder for leaving voice memos or if you just like hearing the sound of your own voice (chuckle). Then you have your general settings for power saving, setting intervals for the screen-saver, a time out and sleep timer option, an option for resuming tracks after the player has been shut down and restarted. The SA1355 also allows you to see how much of memory is available. And there's even a factory setting option present.
The radio has manual and auto tune settings and a selection for stereo or mono. You can record from FM as well using the record function. The folder option simply allows you to view the files in their respective folders if you've created any. So there's nothing out of the ordinary here. The good thing is the simple plug and copy/paste feature. No need for any drivers. Just plug it into your PC's USB port and copy/paste your files into the drive.
I'll be real quick about this because truth be told I was not entirely happy with the overall performance of the SA1355 with the earphones provided. The sound quality although quite clear was wee bit low. In a closed room it was loud and clear. But if you're thinking about buying this because you get bored commuting by train or bus, that's not going to work out too well. The noise cancellation in the earphones is not good so you will get disturbed by all the racket around you that our great city provides. But I did use the device with a different set of earphones and I have to say, it's a completely different story!
The FM radio picks up signals quite well in most places. Though it wasn't crystal clear during my commute, then again not many receivers are. So that's ok. The player will automatically find the channels and store them as presets and it only takes a minute and some change. I even tried recording from the radio as well and the recordings were decent.
Using the device itself is child's play. The interface is extremely easy to navigate. Transferring information is really easy and quick. Oh and one more thing, the battery life is phenomenal. Using it for around 3 hours a day, it ran for 4 days on a single charge and still had a little to spare. Excellent!
Like I said before there's nothing that distinguishes the SA1355 or sets it apart form any other players feature-wise. Perhaps the price, in this case, could be a distinguishing factor. At approximately Rs. 3000 if you're looking for a reasonably priced FM radio/Mp3 player/recorder, with enough of memory to store up to around 500 songs, this is a great choice, but you will need to shell out between Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 more for a good set of earphones to truly enjoy the SA1355 experience. If you already have a better set, you're good to go.