Philips as a brand has been known for producing good audio/visual products for quite some years and in recent times their GoGear players have given food for thought for music enthusiasts and critics alike. The latest GoGear Muse has hit the market and we take a look at this sleek gadget and see whether it is worth a buy!

A first look at the player gives a very good impression with the brush-metal finish and the sleek design. The 3.2 inch HVGA color display ensures you don’t strain your eyes to watch video. The volume keys are placed on the top and the home button next to the display. The power button is placed on the left of the player. There are two slots below for a Micro SD card and an HDMI port respectively and there’s a mini USB port with a 3.5 mm earphone socket on the right. The buttons are conveniently placed and there are no problems with operating them. There definitely is an issue with the weight of the player though, being a little on the heavy side makes it inconvenient if you just want to carry it around to listen to music.

Features and Performance
The interface of the player looks neat and is well organized, though it doesn’t seem to be very intuitive. The interface also seems to lag a bit at times when you want to play songs randomly from the list. The touch-screen responds well to a firm swipe across the screen or a firm press, but people used to feather-handling capacitive displays might be a little taken aback! You can play videos, music, listen to audiobooks, record voice memos, read text, view pictures and also listen to the local radio station with the built-in FM receiver.

Let’s start off with the Video playback. Now the whole reason to buy a PMP is to play videos and what you really want is for the video playback to be good, if not excellent. Not that watching videos on the Muse is very bad but this is where we address the biggest problem. The screen seems to have a film-like substance on the surface due to which any white background that is seen on screen seems to be soaked with a mixture of water and petroleum! Initially we felt that it was a problem with the particular piece that we had tested and so we called for another only to find that the problem is generic. Watching videos sticks out like a sore thumb as any scene that has a hint of whiteness in the background glitters mildly. The player supports video playback at a resolution of 720p at 24 fps however video playback quality was not all that great as non-converted .avi files framed a bit.

The sound quality is quite nice, with the FullSound technology turned on giving a good and wholesome music experience, it also comes with 5 preset equalizer options with one custom equalizer option. The audio recorder can pick up sound from quite a distance and the playback quality is good too. The text reader is meant to read .txt files and is a handy inclusion. The FM radios reception was quite strong and it was pretty clear even in enclosed areas.

Another good thing which can be the USP of this player is that you can watch videos on your TV through the HDMI port of the player so you’re not forced to watch it on the small screen! One of the best features was the battery life with about 24 hours of music playback and around 4 hours 30 minutes of video playback, handy for really long journeys! Also the memory is expandable up to 40GB for the 8GB model (32GB microSD + 8GB internal).

To sum it up, the whole experience was bittersweet. Though I’d like to say more bitter than sweet. The screen as mentioned earlier was THE biggest issue. The rest of the features worked out fine but the player is meant to provide a good experience while watching videos and that has not been accomplished with satisfaction. At a price of Rs. 9,400 for the 8 GB, you might consider it a good buy, but if its performance that you’re thinking about, it would make more sense to save up for a better PMP like the Cowon J3. The GoGear Muse makes a good mp3 player, but definitely not a portable video player!

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