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When it comes to new MP3 players and PMPs, personality now matters. The days when you could stick out a basic, black box with a drab interface and a serial number for a name are gone. People want a little glamour. They want a little style. This is something Apple understands with its instantly recognisable names and form factors (nano, shuffle, touch) and that rivals like Samsung, Creative, Sandisk and Sony have also got to grips with. Even smaller manufacturers like Cowon and iRiver are going out of their way to give their players some charm school education, as the likes of the Clip, View, S9 and P7 demonstrate.
Philips has been late getting with the program, but if the new line of GoGear players isn't a huge move on stylistically from last year's crop, at least the old SA6045/02 style names are being sidelined in favour of some more catchy nomenclature. Just as the shuffle-sized SA2840 has been updated to the cooler-sounding GoGear Spark, so the SA5285 has been replaced with the spanking new GoGear Opus. It's a name with a nice, classical weight to it, even if its musical connotations aren't totally positive (if you saw the eighties first-hand, check out Opus the band, and shudder).
Of course, we would be even happier had Philips take a second look at the physical design as well. I haven't got an SA5825 here to make direct comparisons with, but the Opus seems, if not virtually identical, then at least very similar. The front has a glossy, piano black finish with the 2.8in, 320 x 240 pixel screen on the left and a four way D-Pad plus two function buttons on the right. The rear is plastic, but styled to look like brushed aluminium, and there's a nice silver trim around the edge. In other words, check the old review and start playing spot the difference.
The Opus isn't a bad looking beast in its own understated way, but there's something conservative about the whole look. If it were a car, the old SA5825 would have been a Vauxhall Vectra, and it wouldn't have hurt Philips to think outside of the box and give us something more like the Insignia this time around. As it is, the Opus is solid, well-built and far from ugly, but - well - it doesn't exactly set the geek heart racing, does it?
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