The Philips GoGear Connect 3 is more the tiny tablet than an MP3-player. Announced by the Royal Dutch at IFA 2011, it's the next generation in the company's Android-running personal devices and this time it comes with Gingerbread with the thinnest of custom UIs on top.
Much like its predecessor, it's Wi-Fi-enabled, only this time it goes from a resistive touchscreen to a capacitive one. Oddly, though, it felt rather dead to the touch during our quick play. Now it might be that we've been spoiled by the silky smooth AMOLEDs on the high-end HTCs and Samsungs of this world but, on first impression, we thought it was the older technology display.
Nonetheless, the software worked well enough with the browser, Gmail and gallery apps all functioning as one would expect as well as access to the majority of the Android Market. What's strange, however, is that Philips has ditched the on-board camera found in the last iteration. As it goes, it might be a decent trade off for price. We'll have to let you know once we find out what that price is.
While the GoGear Connect 3 is capable of up to 720p playback, that's not what we were looking at on the 3.2-inch display. Resolution specs have not been released but, obviously, just because the device can support the lower level of HD that doesn't mean that it will actually reproduce it in your hand. The pixels just aren't that densely packed.
Sadly, there's no HDMI-out either which makes it look as if the 720p support is really only for the benefit of not having to convert your files before you can make them portable; but the GoGear Connect 3 is DLNA-enabled by the Philips SimplyShare app and that's where the 720p playback comes in. So, you can watch those videos in full definition on a bigger screen via that wireless route. Philips also boasts what it describes as a "wide range of codecs" but we'll have to wait for review to see if there are any glaring omissions.
On the outside, the hardware has had a bit of a makeover too. It's all gone black, and the three hard keys are much more reminiscent of a standard Android device than ever before with the Menu, Home and Back buttons all welcome. Along the side are the only other nobbles. Each is orange - two for the volume and one for the power. They're designed in such a stand-out fashion that it's a bit of a disappointment that they don't do more. We tried twiddling them. Nothing happened.
The last slight irk is that the Songbird app, which takes care of the core audio functions, is not actually that great. It comes across a touch cheap, and that's a pity. The first couple of screens of it look good but the black text on white background song lists are a touch, well, yes, disappointing again.
On the plus side, the Philips GoGear Connect 3 offers both Philips FullSound and Surround Sound to make your audio files and video files sound better. So once you stop fiddling and start listening, the experience is good.
All in all, a bit surprisingly meh. Perhaps that's just because smartphones do it so much better these days. Still, if it comes in at not much over £120, it's decent enough alternative to an iPod touch.
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