Philips GoGear MP3 players: Credible iPod alternatives

iPod. It’s pretty much the first and last word in personal digital audio. So does Philips really think that its GoGear MP3 players can compete? Well, yes. And if not compete, they can certainly under-cut the opposition.
GoGear is a range of differently sized, featured and priced MP3 players, from the entry-level Raga at £39.99 to the £129.99 Muse.


As well as playing digital audio files – MP3, WAV, WMA, FLAC, APE – all of the MP3 players come with a 20-preset FM radio function, voice recorder and an impressive battery life. You’ll get 22 hours music playback on the Raga model, to an almost two-days (45 hours) on the Muse. The Muse also supports AAC and Ogg Vorbis formats, making it the default player for users with exotic music file formats.

Battery life for video is not quite as impressive, however. It runs in at five hours on the Ariaz and Muse, and only four on the Vibe. For comparison, the iPod Touch puts out seven hours from a full charge. You won’t find any video on the entry-level Raga.

The Vibe, despite a smaller battery life, has also got a smaller screen: 1.5-inches. The Ariaz has 2.4-inches, while the Muse boasts a 3.2inch HVGA touchscreen, with the ability to connect to an HDTV. We’re pretty sure it’s a 720p output, although we’ve not run a test ourselves. Even it was sub-HD, however, it’s a very nice feature.

The Muse is clearly Philips’ golden boy, with plenty of features thrown in to ensure people step-up from the Ariaz to the premium model. Along with the touchscreen, HD-out and the additional format support, it’s also been blessed with a microSD card slot for further expanding your music collection. At its peak, the 32GB Muse can use external storage function to turn into a 64GB music device.

If you’re feeling less ambitious, the Muse also comes in more manageable 8- or 16GB models. The Ariaz and Vibe are available at 4/8/16GB, while the Raga offers 2/4/8GB. With any of the players, you’ll receive a pair of sound isolating headphones with surround technology, making you feel right in the middle of the action.

Will to GoGear MP3 players kill the iPod range? No. But the Raga’s 8GB for £39.99 RRP (currently £29.99 at Argos) is great for people on the go. And music lovers could do worse than the Muse, with its expandable memory meaning more storage for less. And the HD-out means that you’ll be able to share awesome videos anywhere, providing the TV has been bought within the last five years.

At just five hours of battery for video, however, it seems that the Muse is destined to be a portable media player for HDTVs, rather than a standalone video browsing device.