In the saturated market of micro-hard-drive digital audio players, Philips's newest addition will find a place in the top third, though not quite as high up as the Creative Zen Micro Photo. On the surface, the 6GB Philips GoGear Jukebox HDD1620 makes a fantastic impression, with a glossy-black casing, a vivid, 38mm (1.5-inch) 65k-colour screen, and a blue-backlit, touch-sensitive navigation pad. Looks aside, the GoGear HDD1620 packages nearly every desirable attribute at a very palatable price of around £160.
At 54 by 86 by 16mm and 87g, the Philips GoGear HDD1620 is approximately the same size and weight as a deck of cards. But in spite of the GoGear's classy appearance and extensive features, it's clear how Philips kept costs low. The sleek-black casing attracts fingerprints like a picnic beckons ants, and the included protective case provides very little protection.
In addition, the firmware is noticeably flawed: the player momentarily freezes when powering up/down and transferring files. The touch-pad navigation system is hypersensitive during scrolling and not very intuitive. Finally, the player is compatible only with PCs due to a contractual agreement with the PlaysForSure conglomerate, making this device unsuitable for Apple users. However, such foibles notwithstanding, the HDD1620 provides an appealing combination of cost, quality and features.
For just over £150, you get 6GB of storage, a voice recorder and compatibility with subscription-music services such as Napster To Go. Compare that to the £179 4GB iPod nano, which has none of these features.
The HDD1620 also allows photo viewing in thumbnail (in a 3-by-3 grid), full screen, and slide-show modes. Album art is supported as well. Unfortunately, the HDD1620 does not act as a USB host, so you cannot directly off-load photos from a digital camera.
In our tests, the Philips GoGear HDD1620 offered excellent sound quality, even when using the included earbuds. We still recommend swapping these for a better pair, however, as they barely block outside noise. The player's battery life also proved impressive in our tests -- we squeezed out just more than the rated 18 hours per charge.
Edited by Jasmine France
Additional editing by Nick Hide