The GoGear SA9200 from Philips isn't exactly ugly. Its exterior, all glossy black and brushed-metal silver, lends the device an aura of classic elegance, which contrasts pleasantly with the futuristic appearance of the touch-sensitive controls.

Unfortunately, the GoGear's good looks will need some careful preservation, because it's an incorrigible fingerprint magnet.

We're not entirely sold on the concept of Philips' backlit 'vertical touch strip'. It looks fantastic, but you'll struggle to get a response if your fingertips are dry, and you'll cover the player with smudges if they're the slightest bit sweaty.

So we don't really like the fact that the GoGear's controls are touch-sensitive – but at least there's plenty of them. Philips hasn't needlessly pruned buttons for the sake of minimalism; you get back, forward, rewind, fast-forward, play/pause and 'menu', plus a dedicated volume control on the righthand edge and on/off/lock on the left.

The side controls are of the more old-fashioned mechanical style, and we wouldn't have minded if the device was entirely equipped only with such controls. But it would have affected the look, so we understand why that didn't happen.

The navigation system is simple and intuitive, aided by the GoGear's decent range of buttons. Some thought has gone into the appearance here, too: the eerie blue glow of the controls continues throughout the volume display, icons and highlighted text. The fact that you have to load up songs via Windows Media Player will be an irritation to some, as will the lack of Mac compatibility.

You can display Jpegs on the GoGear's bright LCD, and the device's battery life was roughly 15 to 16 hours – nothing to shout about, but respectable.

Philips GoGear SA9200: Specs

  • 2GB capacity
  • 1.7in 128x160 65K colour LCD screen
  • supports MP3 and WMA formats
  • USB 2.0
  • claimed battery life 14 hours
  • actual battery life 15-16 hours
  • 90x46x9mm
  • 47g
  • 2GB capacity
  • 1.7in 128x160 65K colour LCD screen
  • supports MP3 and WMA formats
  • USB 2.0
  • claimed battery life 14 hours
  • actual battery life 15-16 hours
  • 90x46x9mm
  • 47g

OUR VERDICT

We were impressed by the Philips GoGear SA9200, an attractive, compact and broadly user-friendly player. Deft thumbs are a must, and it's a little more expensive than the norm at this capacity, even at Argos' reduced price. But overall, this is a strong product that earns our recommendation.

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