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According to Moore's Law, the power of processors (or more specifically the number of transistors we're able to place on a given area of silicon), doubles roughly every two years. It's a famous and often-quoted maxim in the technology world, and one that has held true every year since the phenomenon was first observed by Intel founder George Moore in 1965.
Funnily enough, the rule seems to apply to other areas too, not just processors. Take MP3 players, for instance. Four years ago, the maximum capacity iPod you could buy was 30GB; these days it's 160GB - it's doubled, roughly, twice. Two years ago, flash memory-based players maxed out at around 8GB; now 32GB players are commonly available.
Prices in that time have seemed to follow a reverse Moore's Law to the extent that good 1GB players can now be had for around £20 and 2GB players for £30. With its 2GB GoGear SA3225/02 coming in at £50 Philips is bravely trying to buck that inexorable trend, but can it do enough to justify the extra spend?
The first thing to point out is that this isn't just an audio player; the SA3225/02 also plays video. It has a 1.8in, 220 x 176 pixel colour screen and will play back footage at a reasonably smooth maximum of 24 frames per second - that's better than on the cheap but not so cheerful Trekstor i.Beat Motion I looked at recently. Video playback is a nice extra to have, and for short clips, it's quite watchable on this device. But don't expect to watch hour long TV shows or movies on it without going all squinty-eyed - it's just too small for that. Format support is limited, too, to the rather awkward .smv file type. That means you can forget using your favourite conversion tool to transcode video to the SA3225/02 - you'll almost certainly have to stick with Philips' bundled converter tool.
That said, with video at this end of the market still a novelty, that's to be expected. But the rather limited format support extends to audio files as well. This Philips supports the bare minimum of formats: just MP3, WMA and WAV. There's no support for the widespread and popular AAC file type, OGG, FLAC nor Audible's audiobook format. It's very disappointing, especially as elsewhere the features are quite impressive: you get an FM radio tuner with 20 presets and an external mic for recording audio directly to the memory. Claimed battery life is respectable at 20 hours for audio and four hours for video.
For a budget player, the SA3225/02 looks nice. Its polished steel rear is a world away from the plasticky i.Beat Motion, and the thick gloss-black front is luxurious indeed, though it does pick up fingerprints like a forensic scientist at a murder scene. It's quite small and pocketable, too, measuring 213 x 135 x 43mm (WxHxD), though it's not the smallest, neatest video-enabled player around by any means.