Philips is hoping its Muse can make up for its lack of touchscreen with noise-cancelling nous and video vim
Unlike many of the current crop of PMPs, the latest addition to Philips' GoGear range doesn't invite swiping, prodding or any other physical interaction.
Shunning touchscreen tech on its 16:9 QVGA screen, the Dutch maestro is instead looking to tempt sonic connoisseurs with the promise of digital noise-cancelling and a wealth of format support.
Plenty to a-Muse
The Muse's box is plastered with logos from Napster, Audible (audio books) and BBC iPlayer, with the promise of 8 million songs at your beck and call, a library of books in your pocket and last week's Strictly on cue.
The reality is less inspiring: Napster and Audible are both subscription services, give or take the odd free trial, while the PMP's ability to play back downloaded iPlayer vids is far from exclusive and still needs drag-and-drop transfer.
Wide format support
Where the Muse really shines is with wide format support, including FLAC and Ogg Vorbis, and an idiot-proof interface. Its layered control console is a cinch to operate inside a pocket or bag, offering refuge for button fans frustrated by the current crop of touchscreens.
Our only complaint here is that Philips has made the noise-cancelling and power/hold switches the same size and placed them opposite each other, which can be confusing.
The sound is also good, either with Philips' proprietary Fullsound on or with the manual EQ settings tweaked, and there are some nice touches like the way songs fade out when changing tracks.
Video playback was surprisingly sharp, if a bit jolty, though the 3in screen is too small for prolonged viewing.
Sadly, the noise-cancelling is a let-down, and that's what you're paying for here. The Muse managed to cancel ambient hum only to replace it with hissing signal noise. Not a good trade, and that may put off discerning buyers attracted by its many good features.
In their idle state, the supplied headphones are fine, if bulky, and sound is responsive without being earth-shattering. But the jack sticks out awkwardly from the side of the player, making it difficult to pocket, especially given the lack of a dog-legged jack plug.
Ultimately, the Muse falls somewhat anonymously between the two PMP extremes – it’s not as good value as the Creative Zen X-Fi2, and not capable enough to overshadow the iPod Touch.
Philips GoGear Muse 16GB review
A solid media player with wide format support, but the noise-cancelling and controls disappoint