Philips take flash sticks one step further with this MP3, Digital camera, digital camcorder and mass storage device. Convergence is never a bad thing, but can a mere 128MB of flash memory support such grandiose plans, especially when billed as a ‘wearable device'?



Weighing in at 60 grams, thanks to a lightweight magnesium body, the Key019 is no bigger than your average MP3 player, but with camcorder capability too. Screen display is limited to two lines of text; but is clear and user friendly. Both kinds of capture are a little hit and miss, but the micro viewfinder (resolution just 320 x 240 ) saves this from being a point and hope affair. Although bereft of any zoom, the still and MPEG4 capture is on a par with the finer camera phones at 2 mega pixels.

Storage is always going to be a problem with just 128 available (hard drive 50MB) and combining the type of stored files makes things worse. Expect to squeeze on 30 songs in MP3 format- unfortunately no other sound file formats are supported. The literature boasts capacity of up to 200 jpegs, but only at file sizes less than 640 KB. Maximum video capture is 25 minutes at an average of 5.1MB per minute. In reality, the sooner any captured files are whisked down the USB cable to your PC, the better.

Transfer is made via sluggish USB 1.1 and disappointingly; there is no Mac compatibility at all. The Key019 runs on Win 98, SE, 2000, ME and XP with three pieces of included software for the desktop; Photo Impression, Photo Collage creator and Video Impression.

Bundled in are an external battery pack, headphones, neck strap, USB extension cable and 5-key in cord remote control.

The charge time for the Li-on battery is 3 hours, but direct from USB- a must these days. Recording time is 43 minutes from the internal battery, or 30 minutes when run using a clip on unit powered by two AA alkalines.

Verdict

Philips does a good job of combining function, without sacrificing form. MP3, camera and video are each of useable quality, but overall the 128 MB memory caps performance. Unfortunately, the Go Gear is not compatible with Apple operating systems. What makes a device wearable is open to question- anything with a support cord perhaps? Thankfully, this unit really is light and discreet, but still a little large for a keyring. It is interesting to see an MP3 combined with a camera, but does the converged product achieve more than the sum of its parts? The captured results are better than you would expect from a digital imaging mobile phone, but not up to the standard of a digital camera/ camcorder. While a zoom would cure some of the ills, it's the memory that ultimately limits this device. Good fun nevertheless and when the storage and connection speed naturally double, it'll be interesting to give it another go.