I've had a long line of cheap MP3 players in my time and although my iPod Nano is still going strong it was the generation that wouldn't play video so when I saw the Philips GoGear Opus SA1OPS08K/02 I had to give it a go. With features including a 2.8" screen, video player, photo viewer, FM radio, 8GB memory and cheaper than the current iPod Nano, I was sold.
Setting up the Opus was easy. After installing the software the player can then be charged which initially takes 5 hours and 4 hours there after. This is a little bit of a pain having to wait so long as the computer has to be left on but it doesn't interfere with doing anything else. There are few buttons but I prefer actually having to press in either direction rather than having the click wheel and the simple menu makes navigation easy.
Once charged it is then easy to add music - when connected it gives the option to sync while charging but I prefer to add individual tracks/albums and one advantage is the ability to delete files directly rather than connecting it to the computer. As it uses Windows Media Player rather than iTunes it's still easy to rip songs from CDs or just drag and drop music into folders. There is a free trial provided for both Audible and Napster although I've found in the past Napster didn't hold as many of the artists I like. The Opus will also work with iTunes but only DRM free music so nothing bought from the store. That is a big disadvantage as I've bought hundreds of songs through iTunes but at least my iPod will still play those.
Viewing photos was never one of the reasons for getting the player. I did however try it and while they do look good on the small screen I still prefer to view them on my laptop since there's no option to zoom in on them.
So the main reason I wanted the player - videos. With the ability to download from Google video, YouTube, Myspace and BBC iPlayer it really was simple to watch a wide variety of videos. BBC iPlayer have the Opus listed as a portable device and lower the file size so it's quick and won't take up much space on the player. With Google Video, Myspace and YouTube I've found the files can be quite large so take a lot longer to download. I like having the 2.8" LCD screen though as it's easier to sit through programmes from iPlayer and even with the file size reduced all the videos remain high quality on the small screen. When switching off the player during a video or switching to listen to the radio etc. the video will pause so it's easy to resume playing from where you left it.
I know many people are not fond of the earphones Apple supply so I was extremely pleased with the thought Philips put into theirs. Not only do they provide high quality sound by blocking outside sound but the HD headphones actually stay in my ears. At times it feels as though I'm underwater and it also seems to amply the sound you make when eating but that still doesn't detract from the difference to Apple's. One minor point was the L and R rubbing off fairly quickly but they stay in my ears whichever way round.
The radio is one of the main features I use with option to save up to 20 channels (I currently use 5). I don't have too much of a problem with the signal but I have found if I listen to one station for a while and try to switch to another, it will continue to play the same one. After switching back again it will then change. The pause button is also rather sensitive as I've found pressing it a touch too long won't stop it which can be annoying if needing silence in a hurry. I do like the ability to record from the radio however as it doesn't pick up outside sound whereas the voice recorder is very sensitive and will pick up noises like pressing the buttons.
Battery life of the Opus is impressive. Many times I've seen it dip to red but can still easily get a few more hours play time out of it. It does say there is up to 6 hours of video playback and 30 hours continual music playback which happily keeps me going. With 8GB of space holding 1800 songs, 5000 photos or 32 hours of video not to mention the FM radio, it most certainly keeps me entertained when I want to listen to something but there are 16GB and 32GB versions of the Opus for those looking for even more space.
The Opus is larger than the old Nano but mainly because of the screen size but still flat and very portable. Unlike the Nano, the back of the Opus is not as easily scratched and with a price that currently beats the video Nano, definitely one to consider with its high quality sound, vibrant LCD and good range of features. I find it very easy to use and although it does have its problems I'd still rate it quite highly.