The Philips SA9345 is a great-looking digital audio and video player that’s easy to navigate and boasts an FM tuner, which is always a plus.

In common with Apple's iPods, navigating the Philips SA9345 requires the lightest of touches and benefits from a straightforward menu structure. Plus you can listen to DRM-protected content you’ve bought through any PlaysForSure online store.

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Philips’ relatively low capacity new MP4 players (there’s a 2GB model available too) use the same touch-sensitive navigation that caught our imagination on its hard-disk-based Philips 6320 a couple of years ago. The company continues to sell players with navipad controls, but we’re sold on delicately scrolling through playlists with a gentle stroke. You’re rewarded with a flowing blue LED lighting up in response.

The Philips SA9345 offers 4GB of storage for your media files. Philips reckons up to 2,000 Windows Media Audio (WMA) tracks can be housed on it, but most people are likely to have heaps of MP3 tracks they want to listen to and these tend to be sampled at higher bitrates.

Given the Philips SA9345’s good range of audio preset options and customisable equaliser, it would be a shame not to use the top sampling rate of 192K.

As a Windows Media Player-focused player, with the Philips SA9345 you just drag items to the Sync list and star ratings, musical genre, album art and other details are imported along with the music file itself.

Other players – notably the Archos 405 – support more video and audio formats than this model and you get superior video playback on the Sony as well as both the iPod touch and the nano.

Philips needs to up the 1.8in display’s resolution to the 240x320 pixels of its rivals, while the Philips SA9345's 30fps (frames per second) playback is standard.

As a piece of design the Philips SA9345 puts in a strong showing. As well as the excellent and classy touchscreen, the slim metal casing with the translucent black fascia looks great. You do of course have to put up with fingerprint smears, but the same is true of the iPod touch.

Philips SA9345: Specs

  • 4GB
  • 1.8in (176x220-pixel) colour screen
  • claimed battery life 20 hours (audio), 2 hours (video)
  • USB 2.0
  • Windows Media Player 11 MP3/WMA music
  • PlaysForSure (supports DRM) Mpeg2 and WMV player (30fps)
  • Jpeg photo viewer with slideshow
  • FM radio
  • five-band equaliser
  • six audio presets
  • 3.5mm jack
  • 46x9x93mm
  • 47g
  • 4GB
  • 1.8in (176x220-pixel) colour screen
  • claimed battery life 20 hours (audio), 2 hours (video)
  • USB 2.0
  • Windows Media Player 11 MP3/WMA music
  • PlaysForSure (supports DRM) Mpeg2 and WMV player (30fps)
  • Jpeg photo viewer with slideshow
  • FM radio
  • five-band equaliser
  • six audio presets
  • 3.5mm jack
  • 46x9x93mm
  • 47g

OUR VERDICT

Good looking and with a slick touchscreen, price alone prevents the Philips SA9345 from being a Best Buy.

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