82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The very first portable MP3 players were introduced in 1998 but didn't really catch on en masse until Apple released the iPod in late 2001. Apple chose to use their own audio compression (AAC), which had better sound quality than MP3. Apple's iPods are ubiquitous now with portable music players but believe it or not, there are other music players that offer features equal to those of or better than the iPod. Philips offers the GoGear ViBE as an alternative to the iPod nano by appealing to one very important consideration: value.
- Very good value
- Good user interface
- Good sound quality
- Good battery life
- Supports MP3, WMA, and FLAC formats
- Firmware upgradeable
- Decent FM reception
- FullSound "feature" is a gimmick
- Songbird application is weak
- Cannot update firmware without Songbird
- Terrible 90-day warranty
- Earbuds are awful
Back in 1998, I bought the Diamond Rio PMP300, which is often incorrectly credited with being the first MP3 player ever made (it was the 2nd), for about $200. It only had 32MB of space and used a parallel port cable to transfer music. I had been using l3enc, a command line encoder, a few years earlier to compress my CDs and listen to them on my PC. Having a portable was a godsend. Fast forward 12 years and wowie zowie! I myself have never owned an Apple iPod. I never found it to do anything much better than the plethora of other music players available and was typically far more expensive while relying on proprietary cables. The Philips GoGear ViBE is one of those other players that does just about everything an iPod can do at an MSRP Steve Jobs would fire an Apple employee for even suggesting.
I personally found the sound quality of the GoGear ViBE to be very good. Its signal-to-noise ratio is very good compared to that of other high quality music players. I did an A-B comparison with a SanDisk Sansa CLIP+ player. The CLIP+ is considered by many audiophiles to have one of the best audio chips in a portable music player so it made an ideal measuring stick for the ViBE. I used several FLAC files as well as Lame VBR extreme files for my comparison. I also used an Etymotic hf5 audiophile earphone and tossed the terrible included earbuds. I have to honestly say that the differences were very subtle. While I personally still preferred the SanDisk's sound quality overall, the Philips GoGear was no slouch. However, the FullSound feature really is a gimmick. It's essentially just another EQ preset to me and it really boosted the lows but caused undesirable distortion in the mids and highs. You are better off using the included 5 band equalizer and setting your own custom setting or leaving it flat, which is my preference. If lazy, you can also select one of several presets available as well. I also really liked the volume limit feature because it will help me keep it at safe level for my kids when they use it.
I found the interface of the ViBE to be very easy to use and the sceen was easy to read. The navigation controls are on the front of the player. It simulates a typical d-pad style layout though the directional buttons took a few tries to get used to. Additionally, there are two buttons just below the screen. One of those buttons is a return button while the other provides options depending on which feature of the player you are currently using. The volume up/down buttons are on the top of the player and aren't as easy to press. I probably would've preferred a volume dial at that location. There are no buttons on either side of the player. The bottom of the player has the USB and headphone ports along with the power/lock switch and mic. I found no issues with the headphone port as reported by another reviewer. My earphones and the included earbuds plugged in firmly and stayed in. Twisting the connector around in the jack did not cause any static whatsoever. The 1.5" screen is easy to read and you have 3 color-based theme choices. Though the demo video and photos looked pretty nice and could double as a photo/video viewer in a pinch, it is really too small for regular use and more trouble than it's worth, especially for video. One thing I didn't like too much about the screen was how it uses album art as the background while playing songs. Some album art didn't make great backgrounds because it sometimes made the text (song title, album, artist, time, etc.) difficult to read.
I rarely have had good luck with FM tuners that were built-in to my devices so I was pleasantly surprised when the GoGear ViBE actually got good reception. It pulled in stations better than my SanDisk Sansa CLIP+. It also supports RDS, which can display information like the station ID, song title, and artists. You're allowed 20 presets and the autotune feature worked pretty well and it scanned all the frequencies before selecting the 20 strongest.
The battery life indicator was at 2 out of 4 bars when I first turned it on. I plugged it into my PC using the 6 inch or so mini-USB cable and it took another couple of hours to reach a full charge. I actually preferred the small USB cable because I happen to have a box full of longer mini-USB cables from a variety of other devices I own including digital cameras and Blackberries. Unfortunately, you are limited to charging only via a powered USB port from a computer as no AC adapter is included. This could be a problem if you decide to travel with the GoGear ViBE without a laptop but there are a lot of universal USB chargers available these days. I myself can just take my old Blackberry charger along, should the need arise. The rated battery life is 24 hours of audio but that is probably with all the battery saving features set at aggressive levels. It's also likely that certain audio codecs like FLAC will also drain more power. If I can get 75% of the rated life (18hrs) then I'll be very happy. One neat battery save feature is to have the screen shut off after a period of time but you can choose to display the date and time. I've only seen this work with the music player. In FM mode, the screen just blanks out.
I'm not an experienced audiobook listener, but decided to get Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol since I hadn't gotten to reading the physical book. After ripping the discs, I loaded them onto the GoGear ViBE and Dan Brown showed up as an artist and The Lost Symbol as an album. I selected play all and it began playing the files in order. I paused the audio and turned the player off and turned it back on to find that the player had remembered the point I had paused it. I may have found myself a new way of catching up on my reading :)
The GoGear ViBE comes with a custom copy of Songbird. I tried to install it on my Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit computer and it gave me an error message that some features may not work correctly in my version of Windows. Come on Philips. There is no reason not to have full 32-bit and 64-bit support. It installed fine however, and I was able to add my music to the player and use it to transfer music to the GoGear ViBE. Firmware updates are performed from within the customized version of Songbird as well. I downloaded a more current version of Songbird but the non-customized version did not have the option for updating the firmware and there is no way I know of to update it without using the included version. Boo Philips! The firmware version on my player was v1.33 and when I checked for updates, was told that was the most current. I don't care for Songbird so I chose to use Winamp. The only problem with using Winamp was that it copied the music into the root directory of the player rather than straight into the "Music" folder.
The Philips GoGear ViBE 8GB MP3 Player is a very good player with lots of good and useful features. I found the sound quality to be good and the player very easy to use. It's unfortunate that Philips only provides an anemic 90-day warranty, but at least the build quality appears solid. It is a good value. If you don't need the large screen for viewing album art, photos and video, I highly recommend the SanDisk Sansa CLIP+ instead because of better overall sound, smaller size, and expansion capabilities. The GoGear ViBE is not the cheapest 8GB MP3 player you can buy, but it certainly offers a very appealing feature set for the money and I have no qualms about recommending it.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I bought this MP3 player as a gift for Christmas for my son, but it was dead before I could give it to him. I got it out of the package to charge and put songs on it so it would be ready Christmas day. It was doing ok at first, then it said that a firmware update was available. The update caused the player to lock up. The songbird application also failed to execute after that. I tried to re-launch Songbird only to get error messages. I uninstalled it and tried to re-install it... the same error messages. Philips support was NO HELP. They suggested I get Songbird directly from the Songbird site... I did.. It installed. Now as for the player it was locked up.. I ended up having to format it again which erases all of you songs, but I figured I could re-load them. Once the player was turning on and appeared to be working order I hooked it up to the newest Songbird application I had downloaded.. It wouldn't load the songs (errors between the player and software). I went back to support.. they said to download the Philips branded version of Songbird and it would fix the player.. The problem is that their download had the same error message which said: An error occured during the installation. Please launch the installer again to install Philips Songbird. It never does work. I have seen the same problem posted on the internet from others. There is apparently an issue with the Philips version that won't let it install if it was previously on the computer. Philips support said to install it on another computer... I don't have another computer, and even if I did, all of my music is on this computer. So now I have an MP3 player that is 3 days old and will not play and it can't be fixed without the Philips version of Songbird which will not install on my computer. So my son got an explanation as to why he can not use his gift and I am taking it back to the store tomorrow and get an iPod. Spend the extra money and get a device that will work and if it doesn't will be supported by the company. I am very disappointed with this product and the support from Philips.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Julian A. Schulz
- Published on Amazon.com
This little gem from Philips deserves a lot more credit & notoreity than it seems to recieve.
The player has a metallic shell/caseing, very durable, and after many months of use, the shell remains
in brand new condition.
Similarly, the screen, unlike an iPod, seems to be scratch resistent.
I've taken this thing out in rainstorms, dropped it on the pavement, stored it in my pocket with a set of keys, and still it remains somewhat pristine.
This didn't occur to me until recently, upon looking at it.
It reminds me of those older, yellow Sony Sport Walkmans, in that it is difficult to damage.
The battery life is pretty incredible, as i seem to recharge it much less than any other player i've owned.
They say 24 hours & i actually believe them!
FULLSOUND is another accurate description, because the player does sound great in this mode.
This is a perfect player for someone that wants a MUSIC player.
The only negatives are the original headphones were weak for a player of it's caliber.
I discarded the Philips earbuds, replaced them with Sony, and the difference was substantial.
Another problem, for me, was the annoying on/off slider placement.
It's on the heel of the device, and you need to hold the player in one hand & use the thumbnail on the other to
slide the player in off mode.
One positive of this placement is that it's almost impossible to accidentally turn the device off or on.
In Summary, it's a very fine player at a fraction of the iPod price.
Transferring music & video is a breeze, with no need to download any additional software.
Right now, i'm bouncing between this Philips & my Sony mp3 player, and though i love both devices, the Philips
seems to be my usual preference.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
From the moment I got this player it had problems. Wouldn't connect to my computer at first but found a way around that most days by quickly clicking on the player the second it was inserted into the USB port. Next problem I had was that when I powered it on most days it would never go past the Philips welcome screen. I had to clip a safety pin on the headphones to use as a key to push the reset button continously until the player decided to actually go to the screen where I was able to actually listen to music. However after about 2 weeks of dealing with using a key to maybe get my MP3 player to work, I one day let the Philips welcome screen stay on until the battery died in hopes that the player may reset itself or quit giving me problems. Well it never turned on again since and I've tried plugging it into a USB wall charger and multiple computers and still the empty battery logo stays on the player. I would not recommend this player to my worst enemy so please do yourself a favor and spend a little more for a better brand that has more experience in MP3 players. The little bit more money you spend will be worth the less amount of frustration you had to deal with.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I was so happy with my 16 GB Philips Ariaz so I bought this piece of ((*& for my sister's birthday.
That is the WORST mistake I ever made
EASE OF USE: the player is plug and play so putting files on the player is a piece of cake.
NAVIGATION: the menus are intuitive and easy to use,
VOLUME CONTROLS: These are tiny and hard to use.
ON/OFF SWITCH: is tiny and right next to the headphone jack so you are always bumping the plug
OPENING FOR LANYARD: the hole is on the wrong end of the device so you have to rotate it 180 degrees to read the menus or song title
PLAYLISTS: you have three play lists, and each play list can only hold about 100 titles. This is an 8 GIG player and supposed to hold up to 1,600 songs. What is one to do with the OTHER 1,300 titles?
SOUND QUALITY:, the sound quality is poor, No better than COBY or Not near as good as RCA or my Philips Ariaz
BATTERY LIFE: Battery life is abysmal. We plugged it in and allowed the player to get a full charge, and the stupid battery gave out after 6 short hours,
I would not recommend this to an enemy
I say two things "BAD ENGINEERING", and "DO NOT BUY"
Now I have to buy another MP3 player for my sister