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2009-03-06My review: Philips SA2620 2Gb MP3 player

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There's nothing wrong with the several card-expandable Alba MP3 players I've picked up, which are great for random play or a few album-as-single-MP3 files. This'll be quite a short review. However, what attracted me to this Philips range was the claimed 30hr battery life (even if it doesn't make that, it'll certainly be longer than any other player I've used) and likelihood of them having a good interface for picking out tracks by name. I was also faintly curious whether the model could shuffle play within a directory, which it can't — why, when players can usually navigate and list directories, does this feature seem so damned rare?

Sound quality and the included earphones are very decent indeed, though that's probably more a reflection on me being used to cheaper stuff for wandering around with. For its intended purpose of accompanying me on train journeys to listen to radio shows, books and occasionally a new album or three, I predict a happy relationship — especially if the battery life is as good as claimed.

What makes the player particularly suitable to those tasks is that it scrolls long filenames and has scroll acceleration, so you don't end up crawling through lists if you've got a book broken down into a hundred files, or want to jump to a particular track on an album. Taking AAA batteries means that I can use rechargeables if I want, but am not limited to having to remember to keep the thing charged. Something similar that took large capacity HDSD cards (and similarly had good navigation, took disposable batteries, didn't have a power-guzzling colour screen, etc) would be awesome, but if it exists I unfortunately haven't found it.

Update: something this doesn't appear to do is allow you to resume from a previous point of playback, such as midway through an album. I've queried this with Philips and hope to hear back that it is, in fact, possible and how to do so. Which makes this a novelty player only, and broadly unsuitable for listening to either albums or audio books unless you're content to remember what position you reached. Which is a huge shame given the excellent battery life.

On the plus side, the shuffle functionality isn't bad. It does default to the first track each time the player is turned on, and is limited to all tracks on the player, but a quick tap of 'back' and 'play' sets it into a new and apparently actually random loop.


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