I recently purchased this mp3 player, as I was looking for a cheap device with long lasting battery; Philips has a nice reputation regarding battery lifetime in its devices so I went for the SoundDot. Packaging contains all necessary stuff (such as multilingual printed manual and warranty info), as well as a pair of headphones. I was surprised to see that the headphones were not Philips branded; instead they are low quality, generic ones.
Operating SoundDot is really easy: One button for Vol (-) and Previous track, one button for Vol (+) and Next track and one button for Power/Play-Pause/Shuffle. Sound quality is really good, but volume is too low with the provided headphones; there is now way that you can listen to music while walking on a rather busy street. I saw a little improvement while using another set of headphones. I also noticed that when the volume reaches maximum, it beeps three times and playback stops for a couple of seconds before it resumes. I am not sure if this is a normal behavior of the player, as this is not mentioned anywhere in the manual.
The Songbird software (free download from Philips) is cumbersome (more than 100MB) and not easy to use. There are a lot of confusing menus and small icons, as well as panels all over the interface. I am working with various types of software for the last 7 years more than 10 hours daily and still find the SongBird software confusing and not easy to use. In addition, it doesn’t work properly with Windows 7 nor with Windows 8. In both cases the SoundDot is identified but it is not possible to check for a firmware upgrade, as I receive a “Connection issue” message all the time, even with firewall disabled. At the same time, Songbird is able to open web pages within the app (e.g. the registration problem) so it is not a connection issue. I finally managed to update the firmware of my Sounddot using another laptop, but still the software is buggy and the volume issue was not solved…
Battery seems to last for more than 4-5 hours but I haven’t tested that thoroughly yet. SoundDot is really use to charge by plugging it directly to a USB port of a computer or a USB charger plugged in a power outlet (no cables needed). It is really lightweight and portable, while the clip is also convenient.
To sum up: The issues identified is the low quality headphones and the low volume level even at the maximum setting. Songbird is also a problem, but I just avoid it for transferring MP3s to Songbird (I just drag & drop my files through Windows Explorer). Since I got it for less than 20 euros I cannot complain much but still I do not consider it as my best purchase ever… in the meantime I have tried to use the Philips forum in order to ask about these issues but there was no way that I could do so, as I kept receiving an error message about the format of my birthday date (which I have carefully entered…).
Edit 25/8/2013: I finally found out that the low volume limitation can be passed-by, simply by keep pressing the Vol(+) button after the 3 beeps, and release it after you hear another 2 beeps. This signal means that the limit is no longer valid and you can increase the volume by pressing the same button, as usual. Hallelujah! I can now listen to music while walking in a busy street or while commuting by train!