Most helpful critical review
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2011
I bet you'll be conflicted after you've used the GoGear Ariaz: you like the space, you'll like the colorful screen, and you'll quickly figure out navigation. You'll hate operating the device and the brain-dead problems you're certain to have. You'll also wonder how the included Philips Songbird management software that comes with the Ariaz left the labs without adult supervision.
OK, I'll have to admit that I'm coming into this review with a bias: I own a GoGear Raga 2GB that was the most frustrating piece of slapstick disguising as an MP3 player in the world. The included headphones were a pain in the neck figuratively by causing an actual pain in my ears--they were so badly designed. Performance was passable, but operating the thing was a nightmare.
I had hoped Philips had done a better job with the Ariaz. I was dismayed to find that it didn't come with a holder of any sort, but that's neither here nor there since I didn't expect one for the price. I will warn you right now that if you have used an iPod of any sort, you'll be tearing your hair out by minute 10. If you make a mistake and hit any button and you were listening to an hour-long podcast, to get back to the same place in the podcast requires holding the fast-forward button *forever and a day* as you watch the numbers gradually, oh so gradually uptick to the 35-minute mark (or whatever). I honestly cannot believe Philips can't make an MP3 player that can cover more "ground" faster the more you press a button. It took me almost 15 minutes to fast-forward to the 35-minute mark. There's a lock feature on the top of the Ariaz, I suggest you *always* lock the buttons when playing.
The other annoyance is that for some as yet undivined reason, the Ariaz does not play files in alphabetical or numerical or whatever order. If you have a bunch of MP3 files named 01-05, it will play it in whatever order its little brain has decided to. I've change the names of the files, added or modified attributes, nothing seems to help.
The video playing properties are pretty good, with a passably good picture. It refuses to play in any other mode than landscape though. The other features were good and easy to find and use, including the radio. There's definitely a lot of features packed into the Ariaz, I just wish it did one thing well.
Songbird, the software that comes with the Ariaz can be installed automatically after connecting it to your computer. Which is nice, but of course, it's out of date by the time you install it. Updating it is straightforward, but here's something very strange I ran into: Songbird informed me that the firmware was out of date so I tried to update it but ran into a problem. After getting on a chat with Philips support, I was dropped twice by one rep and the other told me that since my Ariaz was working just fine, I shouldn't bother with updating it!
I said OK and hung up then proceded to update the firmware after about 10 tries anyway. Strange. I don't use the Songbird in automatic mode, I set it to manual and push my MP3 files and others directly to it. It also works with Audible books. I haven't figured out how it thinks this or that file is of a certain type (music, as opposed to spoken word or audiobook) as it doesn't seem to care what categorization I do on the files within Songbird beforehand. Another weirdness.
Anyway, the Ariaz is filled with features for a pretty low price, but be prepared to pay for that with weirdness in operation and use. The included headphones are on a order better than the Raga, but that's not saying much.