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Philips GoGear Spark SA2940 review

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Our Score:

7

Call me fickle or easily bored, but I'm looking forward to the day when I'm asked to recommend a cheap, no-nonsense, miniscule MP3 player and I can't instantly recommend the Sansa Clip. Frankly, I'm tired of saying it. Why can't someone - even Sandisk - come along and kick it off its bargain-basement pedestal? Sadly, with no new models in Creative's range of late and only the odd damp squib from Sony and Samsung, I'm beginning to despair of such a thing happening.

Of course, we now have Apple's latest and most controversial Shuffle (to be reviewed as soon as Apple gets us one), but my brightest new hope is the Philips GoGear SA2940, cheerfully dubbed the 'Spark'. This is the successor to the GoGear SA2840, which at the time we believed was a fine alternative to the Clip if you wanted more capacity. These days, of course, you can just get a Clip with more flash memory, but luckily Philips hasn't been caught sitting with its thumb up its collective posterior; the SA2940 addresses some of the complaints we had about its predecessor, and adds a handful of new features to boot.

Physically, the unit is much the same; a simple, compact, square box approximately 4.5cm on either side and around 1cm thick, with a plastic but reasonably robust feel. The whole design is dominated by a 1.5in, 128x128 pixel OLED screen, and this cleverly doubles as a display and control pad, tilting and clicking in four directions to handle all the major navigation controls. As a rule, clicking up and down cycles through the available items or options, clicking right selects, plays or pauses and clicking left takes you back a step.

Combined with a no-frills, no-fuss, text-based interface, it makes the GoGear Spark one of the easiest small players to handle, and the only physical buttons are for volume and power/hold. Memory-key sized players like the Samsung YP-U4 or Sony NWZ-B133 might be smaller, but the Spark wins on usability, and it's great to see that many of the little features you wish were supported by other players - on-the-fly playlist additions, the ability to change sound settings from within a song - are present and correct.

mjaffk

March 29, 2009, 3:37 pm

It's a kind of offtopic, but--





I'm looking for a not expensive, preferably desktop mp3 player, that'd feature a screen and would be VERY EASY to navigate through folders. Thing is, I want to make a gift for my beloved granny who.. is not that young anymore, and I had difficulties teaching her how to set up the clock on our microwave. I want her to listen to audiobooks, which I believe would be a pleasure for her. But all the players I've seen in the local shops are tiny, battery-powered and stuffed with unneeded features. What I want is simple menus, large buttons and at least 2GB of storage. I'd be very glad to see your recommendations, dear TR.

gettinhigh

March 29, 2009, 11:26 pm

@mjaffk


You could consider the Sony E-Series 2GB or 4GB models that feature a decent 2 in screen, one of the easiest navigation systems and large text and menu icons. You could check out the interface through a video available on anythingbutipod.com (for A829, but interface is common).


I'm not sure if they support audible format though.





Both the players are available at a great prices on advancedmp3players.co.uk

piesforyou

April 3, 2009, 10:06 pm

It's nice to know the player is 4.5cm long and 1cm deep, but perhaps you could also mention how much memory it has?

gettinhigh

April 5, 2009, 6:08 pm

@ piesforyou,


4GB (Google)

hazy

April 13, 2009, 12:24 pm

is it available internationally? I'd like to buy it but I can't seem to find where in Mexico, or USA

r4c

May 12, 2009, 2:35 am

Although this device plays audiobooks it's worth noting that it does not support bookmarks. A very frustrating discovery after I purchased the BBC dramatised adaptation of the Lord of the Rings - some 13 hours of audio without a single opportunity to save the page I am on. Fortunately I have a TomTom which does support bookmarking so I can listen to this book in the car.

Judith

June 22, 2010, 11:35 pm

I'm new to MP3 players etc so this might be an obvious question, which is probably why it's not answered in the reviews. I'm buying one specifically to download podcasts from the BBC, and other sites that specify iTunes iPod etc. This one looks well priced and easy to use, but will I be able to download these podcasts? Thanks

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