If you're in the market for an MP3 player this Christmas and you've read our less-than favourable reviews of the other players in the Philips family (the Vibe, Aria and Opus) you're probably thinking there's no point resisting the Apple MP3 machine, but hold up! The Mix is the baby of the GoGear clan and it is easily the best.
We'll keep this section brief, in truth the Mix isn't a pretty player. Our review unit is white in colour with a silver trim, but the Mix also comes in hot pink and black. This minute player is about the size of an old-style stick of chewing gum, and its plastic build looks cheap but feels solid. On the face of the Mix you'll find a tiny, colour LCD screen for menu navigation only. This screen has super-low resolution but it sure beats the iPod Shuffle's complete lack of visual feedback.
Charging and music transfers take place thanks to a slide-out USB connector at the base of the Mix, which is an excellent idea and saves you stuffing yet another USB cable in your desk drawer. This connector is unlike USB connections you'll be used to, it's more like half a connector without the protective metal casing. With the connection extended we were a little worried as to the strength of it, and though we had no troubles during our tests we wouldn't be surprised if less-cautious people snapped this section off.
Features and performance
The Mix is like its more expensive brethren minus the video playback functionality. It plays MP3, WMA and WAV audio files and can hold about 1000 tracks on its 4GB of internal storage (depending on the lengths of tracks and how they are encoded). It also features an FM radio tuner and a built-in voice recorder, both handy features for the rare occasions you may have to use them.
For AU$89.95 these extras are nice, but the main focus is on playing music, and the GoGear Mix handles this simple task with aplomb. Using the five-way navigation pad to hunt through your preloaded tracks is easy, and the menus are easy to read on the tiny screen. We should point out too that there is no iTunes-like music transfer software, you simply drag and drop folders of music onto the player like you would with a USB mass storage device.
The real surprise is how fantastic the bundled headphones are. After being sorely disappointed with the in-ear headphones in the box with the GoGear Aria we weren't expecting much from this simple-looking set, but they blew us away, the sound is loud with decent bass and good clear sound across the board. The only letdown during our music listening is that the Mix doesn't offer true gap-less playback, with tiny audible pops between tracks. This will bother dance music fans most, as continuous mixed records will be interrupted briefly between tracks.
Perhaps it's because we set our expectations low, but we've been quite impressed with this little player — especially after being so underwhelmed by the more expensive Philips MP3 players. It's easy to load with music, simple to operate and a pleasure to listen to. It has a few extras, like the FM radio and voice recorder, but even without them, the GoGear Mix is exactly what most people want from a music player.