Extra features aside, what’s the sound quality like on the P880? Well, as I’ve already mentioned, if you’re using the bundled headphones you’re not going to get the best out of this player. OK, they’re not the worst bundled headphones I’ve ever heard, but they’re still pretty disappointing. So, to get a better idea of what the P880 can do I plugged in a set of Sennheiser’s and fired up a mixture of music. The difference in sound quality when using a decent pair of headphones is significant, and although the sound quality isn’t as good as, say, an iRiver N10, it’s on a par with the Archos Gmini XS 200 that I reviewed a little while ago. But although the general sound quality isn’t bad, tailoring the sound to your own tastes is, once again, a difficult procedure. Bizarrely Aigo has decided not to include a custom equaliser function, and although there is a multitude of pre-set equaliser settings, the inability to create your own is a major issue for a device that can hold a huge amount of tracks.
Aigo supplies its own music manager software with the P880 for ripping your tracks and transferring them to the player. It’s an odd little application, with large, almost child-like icons, but that doesn’t make it a bad music manager. In fact I used the Aigo software to import music, rip discs and transfer content to the P880 and it worked well enough. I did encounter problems when I tried to import my entire music library into the program, at which point it just panicked and crashed – I first thought that this was a lot to ask of a music manager (I have a very large music library), but then I remembered that I’d done exactly the same thing with MusicMatch only a few weeks earlier without any problems.
There’s one final, and potentially insurmountable problem with the Aigo P880, and that’s the price. With a street price of £279.99 the P880 is very expensive – OK, it’s still £70 cheaper than an iPod Photo, but then the iPod Photo has 40GB of storage instead of 20GB. But it’s when you compare the P880 to the Archos Gmini 400 that things really start to look grim. The Gmini 400 is also a 20GB player with a colour screen and a memory card slot (CompactFlash), but the Archos can be used as a video player as well, with support for MPEG4 video playback – and considering that you can pick up the Gmini 400 for around £235, the Aigo P880 looks like poor value.
Aigo has created a curious product in the shape of the P880 – it has more features than most MP3 players, but the design, implementation and navigation let it down. Strange decisions like having no USB connectivity from the cradle are bizarre and take a lot of shine off the product. The P880’s photo party piece is also let down by occasional failure to read SD cards, while the actual process of copying images from an SD card is convoluted at best. But the nail in the coffin for the P880 is the fact that you can buy a similarly featured device from Archos that also plays video, and will cost you far less.