Philips Ariaz 16GB review
We've been impressed by previous Philips MP3 players, so we had high hopes for the Ariaz. It looks like a smaller version of our favourite MP3 player, the Muse (see Editor's Choice below) but it costs £50 less – making it the cheapest 16GB portable audio and video player we've seen.
The Ariaz has the same logical controls and menu structure as the Muse. It's very easy to adjust the equaliser or play modes while a song is playing or to add the track to a new playlist. The buttons are a little small, so it may not be ideal for those with very big fingers. Unsurprisingly at this price, it's missing the Muse's built-in background noise cancellation. The build quality isn't as sturdy as the best MP3 players we've seen either – the plastic casing creaks under pressure.
Unlike previous Philips players, the Ariaz lacks support for H264 and DivX videos, but it can play WMV files, including downloaded BBC iPlayer videos. The battery lasted just under four hours when playing videos, which is reasonably long. However, the low-resolution, grainy 2in screen is at best suited to TV fare, rather than epic movies.
Using the included earphones, music sounded harsh with weak bass and a lack of detail and warmth. This was especially noticeable in jazz and rock tracks. There was also some distortion at the high end in pop and rock tracks at high volumes. Thankfully, audio quality improved greatly using a superior, third party set of earphones. Music still didn't sound quite as warm and rich as we'd like, but it's still highly enjoyable. The battery lasted just over 28 hours when playing audio which isn't the longest we've ever seen but is still respectably lengthy.
We wish the Ariaz felt more robust and it's not ideal for playing video, but it's a very good value portable audio player - £75 for a 16GB model is a bargain. If you can live with its limitations, it's a great buy.