Growing up in the 90s, Philips was almost synonymous to a ‘music system' in most Indian households. The Dutch company, for a moment there, seemed to have lagged behind in the personal audio genre as the likes of Sony Walkman and later Apple iPod, captured the limelight as well the hearts of many audiophiles.

Today, people walking around with their music player plugged in their ears has become a common sight and Philips is one of the veterans that's trying to get its musical act together to tap in to this mushrooming market.

The Philips GoGear line comes up with new-age, digital music players. The Philips GoGear Muse is one of their most recent products. An Mp4 player with video functionality, doubling up as a text reader as well as a Radio player with voice recording functions, the Muse is all of this rolled into one. So will the Muse be music to your ears?

First impressions

The GoGear Muse has a sleek, brushed stainless steel body with a 3.2-inch LCD touch-screen. The body has only three buttons – Power, Home and Volume – making for a very simplistic design.

A three-second press of the Power button switches on the unit while displaying the all too familiar Philips logo.

On the WVGA 480x320 screen, the nine colourful icons are displayed in two rows. The player however, lacks an accelerometer, which means the screen is always displayed in a single orientation ‘landscape' mode.

Music

Tap on the music icon and all the music loaded on to the player is displayed along with the artist and album name. The menu on top gives you the option of making the view a little less cluttered by choosing to display only the artist or album or song title or a playlist you have created. Touching a song title begins the playback. While playing a song, you have the option to turn on the proprietary FullSound option that enhances the quality of the Mp3 files you play. You can also change the Equalizer setting (six customisable options ) or tweak it to your liking as well as set a maximum volume limit for playback.

To change tracks all you have to do is swipe to the next or previous track on the screen.

The player has a FM radio player that scanned stations quickly. The playback was clear even in relatively low-signal zones. You can save up to 20 radio stations on the device and drag them around to re-allot the slots.

Videos and pictures

The videos on the device played without any stutters. We tried out a video with lots of fast action and it played the panning shots well without being a strain to the eye. Catching up on sitcom episodes or watching a movie on this screen could be an option while you travel or commute to work. But after we transferred a couple of Mp4 and .wmv files on to the player, it took a really long time to start playing a video, usually more than five minutes, leading us to think the player has frozen. It also seemed to behave like it was frozen since none of the controls worked during the time that the videos were loading.

The Muse offers a separate Surround audio option while paying movies and a small icon on the bottom of the screen gives you the choice of switching between two different aspect ratios while watching a video.

Still images were reproduced quite well on the camera with the colours onscreen being quite impressive. You can customise your slideshow setting to view the photographs or set one of those as your main wallpaper.

Multimedia

The Mp4 player also allows for audio recording that means you can record your dad's guest lecture or your friends' rants or take it along for sound bytes.

We tried two audio books on the player – one fiction and one non-fiction. The playback was clear and we could choose from three reading speeds. You can also ‘Bookmark' your audio books at different intervals for further reference. The system allows up to 10 bookmarks in a single track of a certain audio book.

The Muse has a Text reader - it only reads .txt files and not other formats . The bookmark option here creates a virtual dog-ear on the display – a nice touch. You flip pages like you do in a real book and you can see the digital pages being turned in the process. However, the software only provides you with three font sizes and here again, there is no option of switching to the portrait mode which would make for slightly longer pages. But, landscape too is not a bad option with the decent screen size and display.

Connect

Syncing the device was an easy plug-and-transfer affair. The player offers two PC connection

preferences – ‘MSC' that lets you connect to your PC like an USB flash drive or ‘MTP' that connects it to the PC as a device.

The unit we reviewed had 8GB of internal memory expandable up to 32GB. It also has an HDMI output so you can connect this to your hi-def TV and watch videos or browse through your pictures.

Sometimes while switching the player on, it took time to ‘boot', quite like a PC and to its disadvantage unlike other media players in the market. Also, the player heats up quite a bit while being charged. On a full battery you can listen to audio for up to one full day and watch videos for almost five hours.

The touch sensitivity on the player was quite disappointing. It would have also helped if there was some response like a lit-up icon or a slight haptic feedback when you selected a certain option on the touchscreen.

With all song details being displayed on the screen, scrolling down the list was a not-so-pleasant experience. If you selected an artist name and swiped up, the corresponding song or album name would only follow after a two-three second lag – the list wouldn't scroll in-sync.

The Muse comes bundled with a pair of Philips noise-isolating, in-ear headphones. However, it wasn't the best we've come across.

Our verdict

The GoGear Muse looks appealing and appears promising with its bouquet of multimedia options, but when it comes to user interface and performance, the player leaves a lot to be desired. A slight tweak to the touch interface and sound and playback quality might enable the Muse to face its rather efficient rivals in the market.

Price : Rs 9,400

Love : Sleek look, multimedia options

Hate : Lacklustre touch interface, loading time

Ratings

Aesthetics: 3/5

User Interface: 3/5

Features:4/5

Value For Money: 4/5

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