Philips is mimicking the likes of Creative, Sandisk and Apple by coming up with the Philips GoGear SA2845 - a tiny MP3 player that dispenses with the fripperies of photo and video and instead concentrates on offering quality music playback.

As well as being considerably smaller than previous Philips GoGear models we’ve seen, the Philips GoGear SA2845 looks very different. Other Philips players have been offered in shiny black, so we were surprised to be presented by a gleaming mirrored silver square.

The Philips GoGear SA2845 is just 40mm high, 40mm tall and 18mm deep. Its controls are minimalist too: viewed face on, you’d be hard pushed to work out how it operates as no controls are immediately obvious. In fact, the on/off switch is a very small hardware button on the top edge nestling next to the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Squeezing the Philips GoGear SA2845 at its edges enables you to jump to the next track or scoot back to the start of a song you were midway through listening to. This is quite an effective way of controlling playback while you’re absent-mindedly doing something else. You might be reading a book or magazine and want to skip a track – with this single press approach you can jump tracks without losing your place.

It’s an idea we’ve seen on the iRiver Clix player line and admired, so it’s good to se it being taken up by Philips. However, the idea isn’t taken to its logical conclusion. Rather than pressing down in the centre of the Philips GoGear SA2845 to pause, stop or resume playback, you instead need to press the on/off/play/pause button. To go up a level and select other albums, artists or individual songs, you need to use the back switch – another tiny hardware button also hidden on the top of the player.

Another curious thing is that the up and down arrows on the Philips GoGear SA2845’s front seem redundant – they don’t govern volume, which you’d expect they might.

In fact, pressing and holding the down arrow brings up the option to delete the current track. While hardware buttons on the right edge of the Philips GoGear SA2845 let you change sound levels.

Nor do these buttons seem to come into their own when you cycle through to the recording feature on the Philips GoGear SA2845. This feature itself works well and we were surprised to find we were able to record a conversation some way across the office and still pick up every word. Recordings are saved as WAV files to the device’s 4GB memory but can be downloaded to a PC via the mini USB connection used to transfer songs to and from the player.

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The Philips GoGear SA2845 is a tiny digital audio player that concentrates on offering quality music playback.

Finally, we wonder about the price: the Philips GoGear SA2845 is fairly priced in comparison with other micro MP3 players from Creative and Sony.

However, you can get one of Philips’ excellent video MP4 players with the same amount of storage and far better playback options for just £5 more than the £45 of the Philips GoGear SA2845. Tiny dimensions are certainly desirable, but we think we’d rather have those extra features and put up with carrying a few extra grammes of gadgetry around.

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Philips GoGear SA2845: Specs

  • Power supply 270mAh Li-ion internal rechargeable battery
  • white backlight OLED, 128 x 64 pixels
  • Channel separation: 40dB
  • Frequency response: 80-18000Hz
  • Signal to noise ratio: > 80dB
  • 2x3mW Audio playback
  • Compression format: MP3 (8-320kps and VBR, Sample rates: 8, 11.025, 16, 22.050, 24, 32, 44.1, 48kHz), WMA (32-192kbps, Sample rates: 8, 11.025, 16, 22.050, 24, 32, 44.1, 48kHz)
  • Play time: 20 hours
  • Build-in microphone (Mono)
  • FM radio
  • 4GB NAND Flash
  • Headphone 3.5mm, USB 2.0
  • 40x40x18mm
  • Power supply 270mAh Li-ion internal rechargeable battery
  • white backlight OLED, 128 x 64 pixels
  • Channel separation: 40dB
  • Frequency response: 80-18000Hz
  • Signal to noise ratio: > 80dB
  • 2x3mW Audio playback
  • Compression format: MP3 (8-320kps and VBR, Sample rates: 8, 11.025, 16, 22.050, 24, 32, 44.1, 48kHz), WMA (32-192kbps, Sample rates: 8, 11.025, 16, 22.050, 24, 32, 44.1, 48kHz)
  • Play time: 20 hours
  • Build-in microphone (Mono)
  • FM radio
  • 4GB NAND Flash
  • Headphone 3.5mm, USB 2.0
  • 40x40x18mm

OUR VERDICT

We liked the fact you can always see onscreen information about albums and songs on the Philips GoGear SA2845 – a crucial detail missing from some other makers’ micro MP3 players. We also enjoyed the ability to jump with such ease between successive tracks, but we were less taken with the way we were expected to navigate the rest of the music library. Relying on a very small hardware button jammed up against the headphone jack seemed rather a waste given the presence of the far easier and more intuitive pressure-based arrow navigation on the main player.

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