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Philips also seems to have played it safe with the user-interface, again sticking close to the SA5825's GUI. After recent efforts from Apple, Samsung and iRiver, the Opus' primarily text-based interface feels staid, but at least it's easy to understand and reliable, with videos, albums, tracks and the various options selectable from a series of nested lists, with the current option highlighted and those further up and down the list getting dimmer as you move away from them. Press the button lightly, and you flick down one item. Press it harder, and the list scrolls at a higher speed.
Otherwise, there's not much in the way of flashy stuff. It's possible, for instance, to pick an album from a grid of cover art, but nobody is going to suggest this has the wow factor of Apple's CoverFlow. In fact, the most interesting feature is a facility to, while browsing albums and playlists, get instant control of playback through a pop-up window. It's a nice idea, but I'd be more impressed if playback didn't stutter and pause as you were browsing through your tracklists. In fact, for a UI with few graphical bells and whistles, the interface can be surprisingly slow at times, most notably when the device is starting up or when it updates after you add new music or video. What's more, I've had it freeze on me on one or two occasions. I'm hoping these issues are confined to this particular, pre-release review sample, and will be fixed by a firmware update before launch.
The Opus is also running short on additional functions and features. We get an FM radio with recording capabilities, a voice recorder and a picture viewing app, but that's really all. Still, what really matters with a PMP isn't the gimmicks and extras as much as the performance.
Here there's no really bad news, but the verdict isn't totally, two thumbs up positive. Let's start with video. On the plus side, playback is nice and smooth, with clear sound and the reasonable size of the 2.8in screen standing in the Opus's favour. Better still, the Opus has embraced iPlayer, and will play any mobile programmes you download without any issues.
On the downside, the LCD screen isn't incredibly bright or incredibly clear. Seen on its own, it's perfectly adequate, but pitch it up against the smaller screen on the Samsung YP-Q1 or the larger touchscreens on Samsung's YP-P3 or Cowon's S9, and the Opus would not be the stand-out player. What's more, format support remains an issue. Only MP4 AVIs and WMV9 files are supported, and even these have to be at a 320 x 240 or lower resolution to play back. A Philips branded version of Arcsoft Media Converter is provided, which will convert most file types without much difficulty to the preset output settings, but the Opus could do with being a little more flexible in this respect.
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