Nick Peers
27/01/2012 14:13 | By Nick Peers, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Philips GoGear Connect 3 review

Philips' Android-powered player offers excellent sound quality, but little else to elevate it above the competition.

Philips GoGear Connect 3 review (© Philips)

What is it?
Philips GoGear Connect 3 - an Android-powered multimedia player with a 3.2-inch touchscreen.

What's great
Top-notch music quality, with Personalization Controls which give you fine control over the sound; FM recording capabilities; reasonably small and light.

What's not
Plasticky construction; no expandable storage option; so-so video; poor Android performance.

The bottom line
A disappointing attempt by Philips to compete with the iPod touch, the overall package proving less than compelling despite its excellent music capabilities.

The success of Apple's iPod touch has brought many wannabes to the table. The GoGear Connect 3 is clearly looking to tap into this market, with its media-playing capabilities backed up with support for games and apps via the Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system.

Unfortunately, while it's perfectly adequate for occasional use outside of playing music, the low-resolution screen, along with an underpowered processor and lack of onboard memory (just 400MB), limits its effectiveness as either a video player or a device for running games.

Philips GoGear Connect 3 review (© Philips)

Build-wise, the GoGear Connect 3 is practically the same width, height and weight as the iPod touch, but it's a good deal chunkier and less satisfying to hold, due to its plastic construction.

The screen, while perfectly adequate (and capable of playing 720p HD video with no problems), can't hold a candle to Apple's Retina display, either. It's perfectly OK for watching short videos, but we found its viewing angles very unforgiving, making it tiresome for longer movies.

Where the GoGear Connect 3 does score points is with its sound quality. This is easily on par with the iPod touch, although you might want to disable the FullSound feature to actually appreciate this.

The built-in speaker offers a tiny bit of oomph, but ultimately you'll be using it with headphones or speakers, which is where its quality really shines through. Take the time to play with the Personalization Controls and you can fine-tune the sound between extremes of powerful, warm, sparkly and vocal to great effect using the touchscreen.

Your collection is managed using Philips' own Songbird app, which can be paired with its equivalent Windows application to sync music to. It's not the greatest app out there - compared to iTunes it looks drab and dated, and there's no facility for creating playlists directly from the Connect 3 itself; you'll have to set these up beforehand in Windows.

Unfortunately you'll need to become familiar with Songbird because you'll be spending time swapping tracks around. That's because the GoGear Connect 3 comes with minimal onboard storage for a player of this price - just 8GB or 16GB - with no potential for expansion. Not including a microSD slot is criminal, particularly since it would have given the GoGear Connect 3 something to lord over its slick Apple rival.

Other media-friendly features include the voice recorder, an FM radio (with recording capabilities, which we applaud) and wi-fi, giving you access to online media and allowing you to stream media from elsewhere on your network using free third-party apps, one way to get around the device's paltry storage capabilities.

Thankfully, despite its underwhelming performance as an Android device, the GoGear Connect 3 does at least have full Android Market access, so you can set it up accordingly.

Be careful when running apps, however, as the lack of memory and slow processor will really show should you have three or more apps running at the same time, while also limiting what kind of games you'll be able to run on the GoGear Connect 3 should the mood take you.

Ultimately, the Philips GoGear Connect 3 represents a near miss. As an audio player it boasts excellent quality on a par with the iPod touch, with more customisable settings thanks to the Sound Personalization feature.

Sadly, in just about every other respect, it falls short of Apple's media player, making it difficult to recommend unless you have a severe phobia of iPods.

Philips GoGear Connect 3 is rated three stars out of five by MSN Tech & Gadgets (© MSN)

Also consider
Apple iPod touch 4G: 3.5-inch hi-res screen, comparable audio, better performance and video
Cowon J3: 3.3-inch screen, better audio, worse video, expandable storage

Essential info
Price: from £160 (8GB)
Capacity: 8GB/16GB
Expansion: none
Screen (size, type, resolution): 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen, 480 x 320 pixels
Audio formats supported: MP3, WAV, WMA, 3GPP, AAC, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, APE, FLAC, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis
Video formats supported: WMV, MP4/AVI (MPEG4 SP/AP and MPEG4 H.264), 3GPP (H.263)
Other features: FM radio, voice and FM recording, wi-fi, Bluetooth, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
Stated battery life: 25 hours (audio), 15 hours (radio), four hours (video)
Dimensions: 58mm x 113mm x 11.2mm, 105g

Philips GoGear Connect 3 review (© Philips)

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