While the iPod is considered the big daddy of the MP3 world for both Mac and PC Philips hopes to challenge that crown with its latest player - the HDD100. Cased in a magnesium shell, the overall look of the device is a big wow.
Rather than go for the same old approach of trying at best as possible to be an iPod. The Philips design team has gone for a sleek black and silver approach making this a for all intense purposes, the black iPod you can’t buy from Apple.
The front is dominated by a tinted black and white LCD display and four-button D-pad allowing you easy access to the menu system and a play/pause button. On the side is a library button - very handy for getting straight to the main folder, a volume control and alternative menu/hold button. The top sees four slots: power, USB2.0, an Optical Line-In and a headphone jack.
The actual operation of the device is very simple and has borrowed greatly from the iPod. The opening screen presents the option of Playlists, Artists, Albums, Genres, All Tracks and Recordings and is all laid out to be familiar to users of Windows Media Player.
You can create up to five playlists on the device and creating or adding to them is very simple. Because of the alternative menu you can add a song to a playlist while listening to it or even while listening to another track completely. The unit’s ability to multitask is very cool and means you can be listening and creating as you go.
The menu system allows you to root down into the album or artist individually or can you simply ask the player to play everything in order or shuffle from one particular album or artist.
Sound quality was very impressive if not a little quiet. Even at half way along the volume meter it was still too quiet to cope with the train or tube. To help give the player a more resonant sound Philips has included DBB BassBoost option, which is well worth turning on. The sound is also helped by a very good set of supplied headphones. Better still, the remote possesses a breakout cable so you can change the headphones if you are not happy with the quality or in-ear approach.
This is certainly one smooth player - both inside and out. The sleek black and silver casing could come across as slightly 80s corporate America, but somehow manages to avoid it. The screen is clear and the menu system a doodle to use. In fact this player is so easy that you can’t help thinking some thing is about to go terribly wrong - after all this is a device that has been made for the PC.
Combine this with the voice recording options, the fact that you’ve got 15Gb of memory to play with - about 3,000 songs - and you’ve got a good little player on your hands. Top marks.