The Philips GoGear Connect 3 is the first Android media player: a Wi-Fi toting 'pocket tablet' running apps and a multitouch interface
The Philips GoGear Connect 3 is a portable mp3 player like nothing we've seen before. Why? Well, it sports Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which means alongside playing music and video it can access thousands of apps through the Android Market. Yes, we know what you're thinking: it's a bit like Android's answer to the Apple iPod touch and is also set to go head-to head with the recently announced Sony Z Series Walkman with Android.
Philips GoGear Connect 3: Build
Sadly, despite the Philips GoGear Connect 3 costing only a tenner less than the equivalent iPod touch, its build quality doesn't measure up to Apple's gloriously sturdy device. There's too much plastic here, and you feel like one unlucky drop would see the whole thing crack – but on the plus side it is very lightweight.
There are buttons to control power and volume on the right side panel, and the standard back, home and options buttons you find on most Android phones below the screen. Connection-wise, there's micro USB and a 3.5mm headphone socket.
Philips GoGear Connect 3: Features
Obviously Android is the biggie here. The Connect 3 is compatible with thousands of Android Market apps, instantly giving it a massive advantage over most (non-iOS) media players: you can play games, check emails, tweet or even make Skype calls.
There's Wi-Fi of course, so you can download those apps and use data, as well as Bluetooth, an FM radio, voice recorder, accelerometer and speaker for (tinny) headphone-free sound. Unlike the iPod touch, there's no camera on board.
Philips GoGear Connect 3: Screen
The GoGear Connect 3's display is a 3.2-inch, 480 x 320 capacitive touchscreen. It delivers a decent enough picture (videos look more than passable) but is leagues behind the iPod touch's wonderful 3.5-inch 960 x 640 display. The low resolution means games look blocky, and small text (in the web browser, say) can be tricky to read at times.
The size of the screen also has an impact on usability, as the on-screen keyboard and icons are sometimes annoyingly small and squashed together, resulting in you pressing the wrong keys or controls.
Philips GoGear Connect 3: Performance
Music playback is impressive, partly thanks to the Connect 3's Songbird player which features both a customisable EQ and FullSound, a Philips technology that intelligently 'fills in' data lost during MP3 compression to make music sound cleaner and fuller, and partly thanks to the nice set of in-ear headphones that come in the box.
The headphones are noise isolating, and come with several earbuds to ensure a snug fit in your lugholes. The player is also compatible with loads of formats, including lossless, audiophile-friendly FLAC.
General Android performance is not so hot, thanks mainly to a host of apparent bugs and general sluggishness. The Wi-Fi takes ages to connect and some apps just don't work properly (the Spotify app won't go online, so you can't sync up your playlists).
Philips GoGear Connect 3: Verdict
The Philips GoGear Connect 3 looks promising on paper, but when you consider what the iPod touch (a mere £9 more expensive) delivers and how well it does it, it's difficult to recommend this over Apple's player. The Connect 3 is sluggish, buggy and its screen isn't as crisp as the iPod touch's, so it's tough to see how anyone apart from the staunchest Apple-hater would pick the Philips.
That said, as a music player it has a lot going for it: it plays a huge range of audio formats, it offers a nice level of customisation to the sound and it comes packaged with a pair of earbuds that far surpass the leaky, cheap 'phones supplied with an iPod.
Philips GoGear Connect 3 availability: Mid-January 2012
Philips GoGear Connect 3 price: £160 (TBC)