In this review I’m taking a look at the Philips GoGear Aria MP3 Player. I recently purchased one of these players, the 16GB version, for my son since he wanted a player that would hook into the Rhapsody music service. I’ve been a big fan of the Sansa players but I decided to go with this player from Philips this time around. Read more to find out why…
Review continued below…
Let’s begin by looking at some of the features of the Philips GoGear Aria. The player supports the basics like MP3 and WMA playback, FM reception and voice recording. It also directly supports digital rights managed (DRM) subscription music through the Rhapsody service including channels and other features. The unit has a 2 inch full color display and is capable of limited video playback. There is a built-in rechargeable battery. The player is about the size of a credit card and is about 1/4 inch thick. The Aria is available in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB versions. I recommend the 16GB since the price difference is usually less than $15 between the 8GB and 16GB models. The regular retail package includes a ‘pigtail’ USB connector and earbud headphones.
Basically, the player isn’t all that innovative but simply a decent presentation of proven technology. Design-wise, the Aria uses a plastic body, which is common in lower cost MP3 players these days. The video playback is OK but you can’t really get anything great on a cheap 2” screen. For displaying album covers and text it is clear and readable. Charging and downloading music to the player is handled by a standard Micro-USB port. I would have liked to have had a longer USB cable included in the package rather than the 3 inch pigtail but I guess they had to cut costs somewhere.
The user interface of the player is a little quirky and it will take you a while to get used to it if you’re more comfortable with the way the iPod or Sansa works. I found trying to operate it a bit annoying at first but I got used to it eventually. My son, who hasn’t used that many other players, took to it quite easily.
The battery performance of the Philips GoGear Aria MP3 Player has been quite good. On average, I’ve been disappointed with the rechargeable battery life claims on electronic devices but the Aria does live up to the 30 hours of playback time on a full charge.
The sound quality is about what you would expect for the price range and compressed digital music. You won’t get CD quality playback but it’s not bad. Through a car system you will probably need to adjust the EQ for best results since it’s obviously tuned for earphones. Speaking of earphones, the enclosed ear buds aren’t bad. I wouldn’t recommend an immediate upgrade unless you’re going to be spending in the $30-50 price range for new ones.
The biggest complaint I’ve heard about the Philips GoGear Aria is interfacing the with Rhapsody service application. Yes, I agree this program can be buggy and a system hog. For me though, it’s worth some of the aggravation based on only spending $15 a month for as much music as I and my son want to listen to rather than spending $1 a song.
Why did I buy the Philips GoGear Aria MP3 Player? Two reasons, the memory size for the price and integration with the Rhapsody service. If these two criteria fit your needs, then I highly recommend this player. While the Sansa Fuze has a few more features going for it, the current pricing on the Aria make it a little more attractive if your purchase criteria are the same as mine. If you’re looking for an all-round MP3 player, the Aria might work for you as well but you may want to check out some other options as well.