Philips GoGear Spark 4GB review
Philips' GoGear Spark MP3 player is smaller than a matchbox and light enough to hang comfortably round your neck with the included lanyard. The clumsy among us will really appreciate the rubber case.
As with its predecessor, the GoGear 2GB SA2820/02, the edges of the Spark's screen function as buttons that allow you to browse through the menus and control music playback. They can be a little awkward to use, as your fingers partially obscure the screen when you're pressing them, but you get used to it quickly. The logically organised menus are easy to navigate. Dedicated volume buttons are located on the right-hand side of the Spark, and the options button on top lets you perform tasks such as adding the current track to a playlist or adjusting the equaliser.
The biggest difference between this model and its predecessor is the new colour screen. The 1.5in display isn't ideal for showing off your photos, though, as it's small and looks grainy. It shows any available album art while your music is playing, although we found that having garish album covers as a background can make the text in front hard to read. The most useful improvement is the screen's higher resolution. It can display five lines of information instead of the old model's three, which makes browsing through long lists of songs much easier.
The new colour screen doesn't seem to have had any negative effect on battery life. The Spark lasted nearly 26 hours in our continuous playback MP3 test, which is three hours more than its predecessor and a very respectable score for such a tiny player.
We were less pleased with the quality of the included earphones, which sound far too bright and harsh. Thankfully, the Spark itself is perfectly capable of producing a clear, balanced and rich sound when used with a quality pair of headphones. There's a small integrated microphone, but it's not sensitive enough to record meetings or lectures in a large room, although it's fine for recording voice memos.
Compared with the Budget Buy award-winning Sandisk Sansa Clip, the Spark is smaller, has a colour screen and a better battery life. If you really want a small portable audio player, or you don't want to spend a lot of money, it's a good choice and wins a Budget Buy award. However, for most people Philips' own GoGear 8GB SA5285/02 is better value. It costs just £22 more, includes video playback and has twice the storage capacity.
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