Music lovers who want the iPod's style but would rather stick to something compatible with Windows Media Player and Windows Media DRM 10 should give some consideration to Philips' GoGear HDD6320 Jukebox, a sexy black portable that offers 30GB of storage, photo viewing on a bright, clear screen and even a few tricks that the iPod hasn't learned. We found the player for around £195 online, which compares favourably with £219 for the current 30GB iPod.
While the snazzy touch-sensitive interface isn't for everybody, this Windows Media DRM 10-compatible player is a nice step forward for Philips MP3 players, which have suffered from performance issues in the past. Although we have heard some reports of the HDD6320 suffering from processor slowness -- including one from a CNET employee who has used the device -- we didn't experience any major problems ourselves during testing.
The Philips GoGear HDD6320 Jukebox resembles the new black iPod, although at 64 by 104 by 17mm, it's noticeably thicker (the 30GB iPod is 10mm thick and 136g), and it weighs more at 150g. But its elegant design does have a similar sleekness and gor-blimey factor, something we can't say about most WMA-compatible players. The player's smooth black face doesn't show any controls or buttons at first. When you power it up, backlit blue buttons appear to show you your touch-sensitive input options. You'll get only the buttons that work with the menu you're on -- so if you've scrolled all the way to the right, you won't get the Move Forward button, for example -- which is a clever design and is reminiscent of the iRiver U10 and the Olympus M:robe series. It has three Playback buttons on the top, Forward and Back buttons on the sides, a scroll bar in the middle and the Menu button on the lower left.
The HDD6320's design has drawbacks, though. The controls are so spread out -- besides the already mentioned buttons, there are dedicated volume buttons on the right side, as well as a power and a hold slider button on the left -- that it's hard to operate the player with one hand, as you can do with an iPod. The buttons on the face are touch-sensitive but don't have any mechanical parts, so there's no tactile response when you press them. That makes them too easy to click by mistake -- or not to click when you think you're tapping them. Plus, the glossy front is a magnet for skin oil and fingerprints, and it starts to look messy after only a little use.
The HDD6320 has a bright 51mm (2-inch) TFT screen capable of 65k colours and eight lines of text. It's not as big as the video-capable iPod's 64mm screen, but it still does a good job of showing off album art, photos, and even slide shows with music and transitions. It can't store and play video, though, like the new iPod or Cowon's iAudio X5.
The HDD6320 comes with a pair of black headphones that have a rubbery coating, making them tangle-prone and quick to catch on jacket zips. They sounded great in our testing, producing an even, rich tone with enough bass, although they leak sound so that music at higher volumes can easily be heard by others.
The package also comes with a cloth slipcase, though you can't control the player while it's in the case, so you'll constantly be removing it. When you're ready to expand, Philips has a small line of compatible accessories, including a carrying case with a carabiner clip, a docking cradle for connecting to your stereo or TV, and a camera cable for loading photos from your camera without a PC.