By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY, NSW: It’s a tough market to crack, the MP3 player category, with such a dominant hold on the market from Apple, but Philips is pursuing a niche strategy.

Available from November, and only in Dick Smith stores nationally, the Philips range of GoGear portable digital video and audio players includes four new models.

The top of the line Philips GoGear Opus 16GB portable digital video player (RRP $269.95) has a 2.8-inch QVGA color screen that can record online videos directly from the PC. An 8GB version is also available for RRP $229.95.

Next in the line is the Philips GoGear Aria with a 2-inch colour screen for RRP $179.95 for the 8GB version and RRP $149.95 for the 4GB variant.

Both the Opus and the Aria come with a pair of what Philips has called “high definition sound isolation earphones that deliver audio performance normally reserved for more expensive players”.

The Philips FullSound technology was designed to allows users to hear greater music details at a lower volume than is possible with normal headphones. The headphones are ergonomically designed with Philips’ “Angled Acoustics” technology to direct music precisely within the curvature of the ear canal. Also, “Turbo Bass” air vents reportedly deliver deeper, tighter bass frequencies.

Next in the range is the Philips GoGear ViBE — it’s a smaller digital video player with a 1.5-inch full colour screen. The 8GB version is RRP $149.95 and it’s RRP $119.95 for the 4GB — and the unit is available in pink, black or white.

All three video players — the Opus, Aria and ViBE — feature the Internet video download function that enables video downloads from video sharing sites such as YouTube, MySpace or Google Video.

The audio-only Philips GoGear Mix has a push out USB connection, meaning no cables are required to up and download music and files. The built-in rechargeable battery reportedly delivers up to 25 hours of music playback.

It also has a FM tuner with 20 presets and a voice recorder function to take notes and record conversations. The 4GB GoGear Mix is priced at RRP $89.95 and is available in pink, black or white.