Note: a 16GB Opus is also available in Australia for RRP AU$269.95.
It's interesting to see what the Dutch electronics giant is up to with its line of players. The GoGear features MPEG-4, MP3, WMV and WMA format support, a large 2.8-inch screen and internet video download software. It's shipped with a pair of premium in-ear headphones.
Decked out in black with silver highlights, the Opus doesn't really break any design boundaries. It's no ugly player by any means, but we're tempted to call it unassuming. The directional pad on the right is nicely positioned between the options and back buttons. The whole player is made from plastic, but the back of the player has been designed to mimic the look and feel of brushed metal. Despite its plastic construction, the Opus feels nice and solid.
At 106x58x9.9mm, the player is sized reasonably well for a player with a 2.8-inch screen. Unlike the snazzy touchscreen offerings that are setting the trend now, the Opus has physical buttons to control all the functions of the player. Apart from the directional pad, options and back buttons, there is a volume control rocker switch at the top of the player and a slider switch to lock and unlock the button functions.
At the bottom of the player, next to the function lock switch, is the headphone port which we thought was an odd placement. While this location keeps the wires away from the hands, it also makes it awkward when we put it in our pocket since the headphone plug would jut out from the bottom. We would have preferred if Philips had placed the headphone port on the side.
The screen offers a 320x240-pixel resolution, but a disappointing 262K colours. Videos and photos don't look sharp at all on the screen and colour banding is quite noticeable. The plus point is that the display is readable even in direct sunlight, although the glossy finish will also induce reflection of nearby objects.
The primarily text-based interface may be dated by today's standards, but it is easy to understand. A good feature within the user interface is that we can get to the playback controls via the options button which calls up a pop-up menu on any screen.
This device allows you to switch between MSC (mass storage class) and MTP (media transfer protocol) mode when you hook it up to a computer. Philips has also included a video converter and internet video downloader, which was a pretty decent performer and made downloading videos from YouTube quick and painless. The unit additionally offers folder navigation, which is nice.
The built-in battery took about 2.5 hours to fully charge via USB. We managed to eke out 25 hours of audio playback time and about four hours with video, which are quite far off from Philips' claims of 30 hours for audio and six hours for video.
The GoGear Opus starts to shine when it comes to video and audio playback. MPEG-4-encoded AVIs and WMV9 files are supported, and these have to be at a resolution of 320x240 pixels or lower for playback.
A Philips-branded version of the Arcsoft Media Converter is provided, which will convert most file types to the right format. However, this software does not allow you to change any of the output settings. Although we like the video conversion software, we feel Opus could do with wider video format support. Audio playback quality is good, plus the bundled in-ear headphones sound very decent. Vocals and mids are handled nicely, if not a tad overbearing on the bass notes
According to the RightMark Audio Analyzer frequency response chart, the Opus comes close to faithfully reproducing music in its original form, which is impressive. (Credit: CNET Asia)
The Fullsound feature is a nice addition to a shortlist of audio-tweaking options, which also includes a five-band user-customisable equaliser. With Fullsound enabled, music tracks sound clearer with an enhanced bass reproduction. However, with the audio-tweaking features disabled, the Opus sounds absolutely neutral, which is something we really like in a player that claims a superior sound experience.
An issue that we found on the Opus is its slightly low audio power output level. This was fine with less sensitive headphones and earphones in our tests, but it struggled to power larger cans. Philips lists this device as being capable of a 4.8mW RMS (rated musical strength) output.
That said, the entire package is unfortunately let down by its slow UI response. The playback will stutter and pause as we are browsing through the music collection with the SuperScroll feature. The Opus takes a considerably long time to start-up, and we especially did not like the wait for the player to update the media library after putting in new songs and videos. We had nearly 15GB of audio and video data put into the player and noticed that the wait could sometimes hit two minutes.
We initially had problems with music tracks that were more than an hour long such as DJ live sets, but the problem has been fixed with the latest firmware, version 1.09. The firmware update was simple as the Philips device manager software automatically searches online for the latest firmware and installs it into the player. The updated firmware, however, did not fix playback stutter that we experienced while menu browsing. Another odd observation is that the screen's backlight would only dim after a preset time of inactivity, before the screen completely switches off. That may explain why the battery life is nowhere close to what Philips claims it to be capable of.
The Opus is a decent player, but it comes with some noticeable flaws. While it delivers great audio quality, provides good software and comes bundled with decent headphones, the sluggish interface ruins the entire enjoyment experience.
We would have recommended this player if it wasn't priced more competitively. The only reasons that we feel the Opus would be worth getting for are its large 2.8-inch screen and good audio quality.
Via CNET Asia