- Blazingly fast
- Excellent value
- Class-leading battery life
- Extensive connectivity
- Not the most attractive
- Build quality sometimes suspect
- Review Price: £299.00
If there was ever a product that showcased the new Philips design ethos, this is it. The HDD100 is a stunning looking device, that will turn heads whenever you take it out of its carrying pouch. In fact almost every time I took the HDD100 out of my pocket on a train or a plane, someone would ask me what it was and where I got it from.
Put simply the HDD100 is a hard disk based Walkman in much the same mould as the Apple iPod. In fact it’s pretty obvious that Philips is going after the Apple iPod market with the HDD100.
One of the best things about the iPod is how cool it looks. Apple has always strived to create products for the style conscious user, and the iPod epitomised this. The latest version of the iPod does look great and this alone has won it many fans. However, it has to be said that the HDD100 looks even better.
The HDD100’s casing is constructed from magnesium, making it strong, yet very light at only 167g. The centre of the body is finished in a pearlescent black, while the edges are polished sliver. The overall effect is excellent and makes the all-white iPod look a little bland by comparison.
One thing that makes the HDD100 more attractive than the iPod to PC users is the USB 2.0 interface. The iPod uses FireWire, which although common on Macs isn’t quite so common on PCs. Also, the iPod doesn’t have a standard FireWire connection on the device itself, so you’ll have to use a proprietary Apple cable to connect it. The HDD100 on the other hand has a standard USB 2.0 port integrated into body that will work with a standard USB 2.0 cable, as well as the one that Philips supplies in the box.
Using the HDD100 is pretty simple. Running the supplied CD will install the drivers for the device and load the Digital Media Manager software. Digital Media Manager or DMM is an application for managing all the digital music that’s stored on your PC and your HDD100. Transferring data between the host PC and the HDD100 is simple, and you can also do useful things like edit ID tags or create playlists.
In an effort to protect digital copyrights, you can only transfer music to the HDD100 via the DMM software. If music is transferred via Windows Explorer for example, it will not be recognised as music and will not play back.
I know I’ve said it many times already, but the HDD100 really looks great, and once you power it on, it looks even better. The screen has a resolution of 160 x 128 pixels and features a white backlight and four levels of grey scale. The result is an incredibly clear display that’s easy to read in any environment.
At the heart of the device is a low profile hard disk with a capacity of 15GB. This is a pretty amazing amount of storage considering it wasn’t that long ago that desktop PCs didn’t have disks that big. This means you should be able to store thousands of tracks on the HDD100. Although the actual amount is dependant on bit rate, length of track, and of course the compression method.
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Talking of compression methods, the HDD100 will playback both MP3 (including variable bit rate) and WMA files, which again gives it a major advantage over the iPod for PC users. There was a time when most people wouldn’t touch WMA due to the appalling sound quality, but the format has come a long way recently and it is possible to get reasonable audio quality while using a relatively small amount of disk space.