Lossless music files, like FLAC, sound better than MP3s and are great for archival purposes. Encoding your CD collection to FLAC is pretty painless as you only need to use Exact Audio Copy (EAC).
iTunes is a popular way to rip CDs to MP3s, but you can encode high-quality MP3s without it too. Using Exact Audio Copy and LAME, you can create MP3s that sound fantastic.
The Philips Connect 3 Android Wi-Fi MP3 Player is a low-cost alternative to its Android cousin, the Samsung Galaxy Android MP3 player. Both devices also compete with the Apple iPod Touch. These are much more than just music players of course––with color touch screens, Wi-Fi connectivity, web browsing, and mobile app support––these are miniature tablets. Unfortunately, Philips sacrificed too much to make the Connect a value choice and ended up making it just a poor choice.
- Less expensive than competitors
- Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread pre-installed
- Easy to use
- Supports Android Market and Amazon Appstore
- Poor screen
- Mediocre sound quality
- Poor battery life
- No camera
- No memory expansion slot
- No wall charger
- Lots of crapware
BUILD & DESIGN
The Connect looks like a miniature smartphone with large, physical control buttons. The buttons, however, aren’t backlit like on most Android smartphones, so you’ll have to hunt for them if you’re in a dark environment.
The right side of the Connect has volume buttons and a multifunction power/sleep button. The Connect’s built-in speaker is located on the same side and sounded slightly better than I expected. However, it’s still a poor substitute for quality headphones or a speaker dock.
The 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the bottom of unit, next to the micro-USB port. The left side of the Connect has a pinhole reset button and the top of the player has what looks like a lanyard anchor, though no lanyard or strap is included in the box.
Overall, the Connect feels pretty solid. The plastic housing doesn’t flex when squeezed and the buttons respond well when pressed.
The Connect has a 3.2-inch screen, which is smaller than both the iPod Touch (3.5-inches) and the Galaxy 4 (4-inches). The small screen size took a little getting used to, especially when trying to use the on-screen keyboard. Small screen aside, I was extremely disappointed with the display quality. At a resolution of 480×320, text looked terrible, which made reading emails in the Gmail app a pain. Icons and images looked slightly better though. Games like Cut The Rope looked acceptable but were by no means, high quality. YouTube videos worked OK, but colors were washed out and the glare was difficult to get over. A red stop sign on a test video looked orange on the Connect.
Philips has always supported tons of audio and video codecs–one of the most appealing aspects of their audio/video gear. The Connect is no exception when it comes to codec support. Unfortunately, all my test audio files sounded just awful. My lossless FLAC audio files never sounded worse. I tossed the included headphones after two songs and plugged in a set of Etymotic HF5 IEMs. Surprisingly, swapping out the headphones improved the audio quality only slightly. I also tried a pair of Monster iSport headphones and it was the same story.
The Songbird software for music library management is OK, but nothing exciting. The Connect comes pre-installed with several Google apps and some music apps. Unfortunately, the music apps can’t be uninstalled.
The Connect 3 supports both the Android Market and Amazon Appstore, so there are a lot of apps you can use with the Connect. I installed Cut The Rope, Bejeweled 2, Google Music and Winamp without any problems.
The version of Android on the Connect is 2.3.3 Gingerbread, the most current version of Android available until Ice Cream Sandwich starts rolling out. I’d be shocked if Philips pushed ICS out to the Connect, even if it were powerful enough to run it smoothly, which it isn’t.
Battery life on the Connect is rated at 25 hours for audio and 5 hours for video. The battery life for audio is significantly less than that of the iPod Touch and Galaxy. Granted, if I’m just listening to audio, 25 hours is plenty, but this isn’t just a music player, is it? It only lasted a few hours of tablet-type use (playing some games, checking email and surfing the web). The Connect doesn’t come with a wall charger either––just a USB cable. If you need to travel with the Connect, you’ll have to get your own USB charger or make sure you have your laptop with you.
For kicks, I decided to install and run the Quadrant benchmark to see how the Connect stacked up to other Android devices. It scored a 995, which is actually higher than phones like the Droid, Nexus One and Samsung Galaxy S, but lower than the Droid X.
The Philips Connect 3 Android Wi-Fi MP3 player is a disappointing Internet-connected music player. Sound quality is lackluster, screen quality is poor, and there’s no camera on the Connect. It also isn’t priced nearly low enough to be appealing, given all of its flaws. Unless you can find the Connect 3 at a blowout price, I’d recommend crossing it off your list and investing in an iPod Touch or the Samsung Galaxy.
8GB model available from Amazon.com for $139.99.
16GB model available from Amazon.com for $189.99.
* Review sample provided by Philips