Philips GoGear Muse 3 review

Can the GoGear Muse 3 take on the mighty iPod?

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For

  • Comprehensive feature set
  • Audio playback good
  • Headphones are excellent

Against

  • Terrible and laggy interface
  • Video playback grainy
  • Heavy in the hand

The Philips GoGear Muse 3 is a feature rich MP3 player - native support for FLAC, APE and Ogg Vorbis - marred by a laggy and confusing interface

Philips’s third-generation GoGear Muse has done a bang up job for the Saturday Dixons shoppers and might sell by the bucket load if it’s punted out to supermarkets. That’s not necessarily a backhanded compliment and it does have an impressive array of features, including a FM tuner and native support for FLAC, APE and Ogg Vorbis to keep audiophiles smug.

But we can’t review it in a vacuum and have to measure it against the iPod. It might be the UK’s second biggest selling personal media player (PMP) behind Apple but it can’t hold a candle to Apple’s audio solutions. Our main beef is with the discombobulating interface and the nano-lag on the touchscreen - just enough to make us growl with discontent.

Philips GoGear Muse 3: Ease of Use

At 106g, the Philips GoGear Muse 3 isn’t tiny or light. That said, it does have a solid brushed metal back and front. On closer inspection this turns out to be a disappointing Goldie-looking Chain style plastic finish instead so it’s not as robust as we’d like.

It took us a while to power up from off though it’s almost instant from idle and we found ourselves constantly lost in the Muse player’s interface. Having a hardware home button on the bottom right and a software back button doesn’t automatically qualify the GoGear Muse 3 for intuitive interface credentials. In fact, we relied on them to orientate ourselves far too often.

Philips GoGear Muse 3: Features

The 3.2-inch touchscreen has a 480x320 resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio so it can playback movie and TV media without the need to crop. It can handle MPEG4, WMV9 and RMVB video codecs as well though we found the display to be quite grainy and not even in the same ballpark as the iPod Touch.

It is reasonably priced and a saving grace is the excellent open source SongBird media manager, which is comprehensive, easy to use and now synched to work with iTunes. We also gave points for the SoundPersonalisation and SafeSound features. SoundPersonalisation offers a neat twist to set up EQ levels using the touch interface, graphics and colours. It is a little slow to respond but it’s an interesting way to evolve instant EQ settings. SafeSound is more straightforward - it literally keeps the volume level from different audio inputs so it can’t be played at ear bud rupturing levels.

Philips GoGear Muse 3: Music quality

We were impressed with the solid and warm audio fidelity. Philips bothered to bundle some decent headphones that you have to bung half way down your lug-holes to get the best quality. The benefit is that they were designed with very soft latex to fit snugly around any ear without any gaps betwixt flesh’n’rubber. The result is a honeyed and deep audio experience.

Philips GoGear Muse 3: Verdict

In and of itself, the Philips GoGear Muse 3 isn’t a bad player at all. It has great audio and a wide array of features. However, stacked up against the almighty iPod, which it so desperately wants to mimic, it’s a couple of stars short of the full T3 firmament.

Philips MP3 Player: 8GB is £ 109.99 and 16GB is £139
Link: Philipsmusic/5 hours video3x10.9x59mm/106g