The Philips GoGear Vibe has gotten a smooth makeover from last year’s model and now has a more budget friendly price, making it suitable for those who haven’t succumbed to the iPod Nano or iPod Shuffle yet. Sure many companies have thrown in the towel, but there are still a few companies – like Philips, that want to produce quality MP3 players at affordable prices – even if there are no fancy commercials to go with it. In particular, the latest generation of the GoGear Vibe makes it super easy to have music, videos, pictures and even a voice recorder on the go.
The GoGear Vibe has gotten a makeover from its previous plastic hardshell to a sleek Aluminum finish body. However, it still maintains a small and lightweight form-factor, sports a 1.5” LCD screen, and comes in capacities of 4GB or 8GB. Fortunately, the crosspad and controls are much more hardier this time around. Gone is that chintzy feeling of last year’s model. The new GoGear Vibe is durable yet easy enough to be camouflaged because it is palm-sized. There are two main buttons that basically control the whole device. The back button is on the left handside and the right button is your menu button where are all your menu options, controls, and settings reside. As for the Vibe’s 1.5″ inch screen, it has good viewing angles, making it easy to choose your songs, pics, and videos on the go. The package includes an armband for those who workout while listening to their tunes.
The GoGear Vibe doesn’t have a touchscreen, nor will it speak to you through its headphones. But where it lacks in fancy features, it makes up for with an easy to use menu system, nice viewing angles, and a strong battery life – that lasted for more than 20 hours for us. Using the GoGear Vibe, you can play videos, do quick voice recording, and even play a picture slideshow. You can also shuffle songs as with any MP3 player these days. With a resolution of 128×128, the screen is hardly meant for serious video watching, but it’s still a nice feature to have thrown in at this price. The Vibe supports APE, MP3, FLAC, WMA, WAV formats and features an FM radio.
The GoGear Vibe comes loaded with Songbird – an iTunes type of program from Philips. Songbird is Philips’ media player software of choice that comes pre-loaded on most of their MP3 devices. It’s simple to use and for those who are familiar with iTunes, they won’t have an issue trying to sync their music or create playlists with Songbird. However if you want to be set free from programs controlling your music – you can actually just drop and drag songs on to your player from your PC. To load your GoGear with media files is easy, just plug and play (USB cable included) and drop and drag your tunes, videos, memos, or pics into the pre-existing folders on the device. A really nice touch is that from the interface on the GoGear Vibe you can delete songs directly from your player. So if you get tired of a particular song – you don’t have to wait to sync your device all over again, you can just hit delete and it’s gone from your playlist and device.
The GoGear Vibe’s included earbuds have a nice look aesthetically, but they lack in comfort. There isn’t even any foam earpads to cover the earbuds to prevent them from getting dirty, and they are pretty flat and have a tendency to fall out. When I switched them out with a more comfortable pair, that is when the Vibe’s sound quality shined. This sub $100 player sounded even better that my iPod Touch! Another feature of the GoGear Vibe is that it allows you to choose your sound quality from rock to classical, my preference was the rock option, I felt that it provided the best audio experience.
The new Philips GoGear Vibe (2010) maintains a budget friendly price, sleek compact size, easy to use interface, and solid sound quality, yet it is still a big improvement over the previous generation. Overall, The GoGear is ideal for the person on the go who wants a little bit of everything but, and doesn’t want to spend an “Apple” price. The FM radio is a nice touch, as well as the simple dropping and dragging of songs without the hassle of being a slave to software in order for it to work. This unit is affordable at $59.99 and good for young teens as well as thrifty adults. In particular, this player is especially tempting for those who tend to lose their gadgets, since it won’t break the bank if they have to buy another one.
The Good: Nice design improvements from the previous generation make it much slicker. Comes with armband. Good interface with easy dropping and dragging sets you free of cumbersome media software. Can delete songs directly from the device. Decent battery life. Great sound quality.
The Bad: Earbuds are bit on the cheap side. Not Mac compatible. Display is very low res.
Update 11/21/2011: Check out our Philips GoGear Connect 3 review