Just because a device is described as smart, doesn't mean it has to be a phone. Apple realized this early on, giving the iPod Touch many of the features of its iPhone, including the all-important apps, and simply removing the phone. It's ideal for people who want to use iOS without monthly payments or at the risk of racking up extra bills. Now, the Philips GoGear Connect 3 aims to do the same thing for Android.
The Connect 3 is the latest addition to Philips' GoGear range of portable music and video players. It runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which isn't quite up to the latest Ice Cream Sandwich standard, but isn't far behind, and connects to networks via Wi-Fi. The Android installation is fully featured, and includes Android Market, so you can download any app you would find on an Android phone.
Physical features and design
Comparisons with the iPod Touch are inevitable, so let's get the physical characteristics out of the way first. The Connect 3 is a similar size to the iPod but twice as t hick, so it's bulkier and the design isn't as impressive. The Connect 3's screen is also slightly smaller with lower resolution, so everything looks blockier. It has multi touch though, so you can use two fingers to pinch and zoom into maps, for example.
The screen lets it down though, particularly when playing video. It'll play HD video up to 720p, but because the screen is only 480 x 320 pixels (a total of 153,600 pixels), you lose any fine detail. The iPod Touch has a resolution of 960 x 640 (614,400) pixels, which is four times as many pixels crammed into a screen that's only 0.3in bigger. It's no wonder that the Philips screen looks blocky by comparison.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the Connect 3 is how much it costs. With a suggested retail price of £160, the 8GB Connect 3 is barely cheaper than Apple's £169 8GB iPod Touch, despite the fact that the Touch is better designed, has more features and is more versatile.
Furthermore, the Connect 3 doesn't offer the same savings over the cost of an Android phone that the iPod Touch offers over an iPhone. An iPhone 3GS costs £319 on a pay-as-you-go contract, or is free on a £20-per-month contract (which works out to a total of £480 over a standard 24-month deal). Next to this, the Touch's £169 price tag looks like a very attractive alternative.
However, the same calculations don't apply to the Connect 3. There are phones running Android 2.3 for as little as £99 on pay-as-you go, such as the Orange San Francisco II. The same model is free on a £10.50 per month contract, which is just £252 over its two-year life. Either package provides the added benefit of mobile phone calls and data connection.
Connect 3 vs. iPod Touch
We've come to believe that Android is a more cost-effective operating system than Apple's, yet this really only applies to its phones. The Connect 3, like Android's tablets, can't match the sophistication of Apple's products and fails to significantly undercut its prices. At the time of writing, the Connect 3 was only available to pre-order through a few online stores, with one offering it for £140. If you find it for this kind of price or less, the Connect 3 might be worthy of consideration, but if you have to pay a similar price to the iPod Touch, there's simply no competition The Apple product is head and shoulders above in virtually every department.
We haven't seen a device line itself up so readily to be measured against Apple's iPod Touch, and the Connect 3 deserves a round of applause for taking on the Goliath of portable music players. Unfortunately, it fails to match Apple's standards in almost every respect, from its physical features to the way it handles the software. If the Philips device was significantly cheaper than Apple's, we might be happier to shrug off its shortfalls, but at this price it's just not good enough. Stores may still cut the cost to make it a more attractive option for the budget conscious buyer, but we'll have to wait and see.
Features : 3/10
Performance : 3/10
Ease of Use : 5/10
Value for Money : 2/10
Philips GoGear Connect 3
- 3.2in multi-touch screen
- 480 x 320 pixel resolution
- 262K colours
- 8GB of memory
- Built-in speakers
- Built- in microphone
- FM radio
- 3.5mm headphone socket
- Micro USB port
- 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi
- Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
- Supports MP3, WAV, WMA, 3GPP, AAC, FLAC, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis audio formats
- Supports WMV9, MPEG4, H.264 video formats
- Battery life up to 25 hours audio, 15 hours radio or 4 hours video
- 58 x 11 x 113mm.
- Headphones and USB cable included
- Get an Android device without committing to a contract or minimum pay-as-you-go data payments
- Fewer features than the iPod Touch
- Not competitively priced
- Android phones offer better value for money