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Reviewed: Article by: Patrick Hsu Product was submitted by: Samsung Electronics Canada, Inc.
Sometimes wonder what MP3 manufacturers have in mind when they decide to compete in this market. With 80% of the customer base dominated by Steve Job’s iEmpire, how is it worthwhile to compete for the remaining 20%? Or do they have dreams of one day overthrowing the reining king of digital portable media
I would think that the first step in being a worthy competitor in this market is to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Samsung has done well so far in this aspect. 3 or 4 years after embracing the “piano gloss” finish for nearly its entire line-up; Samsung has extended this design down to their MP3 Players. Offering a greater usability than the iPod, the Samsung series of MP3 Players were built specifically for the Windows-savvy user, offering drag-and-drop capabilities. For those who prefer to sync up playlists, an interface within Windows Media Player was already built-in, ensuring that nearly every PC user in the world had the software necessary. So with the advent of Apple’s “all video” iPod line-up, what does Samsung T9? We’re going to find out! have to offer in the YP-
The Samsung YP-T9 has some very strong features for such a small package… • Memory Storage - 4GB
• • • • • •
1.8” 262K Color LCD, QCIF resolution Playback Time 30 Hours Bluetooth® Enabled MP3 , WMA JPEG Photo, Text, Flash Games MPEG Video Playback
However useless to me, it’s nice to see that Samsung has included options for some text and games. At least they haven’t stopped thinking about adding more options. The YP-T9 also features an FM Tuner which has been a staple of the Samsung MP3 line since the beginning, and sets the unit apart from the iPod crowd.
If you’re a MAC user, you’ll have to stop here. There is no Apple love at Samsung when it comes to the YP-T9. But if you don’t meet the following requirements, you might not get any love at all… • • • • • • • • Pentium 300MHz or higher USB Port 2.0 Windows XP Service Pack 2 or higher DirectX 9.0 or higher 100MB of free hard disc space CD Rom Drive (2X or higher) Windows Media Player 10.0 or higher Resolution 1024 X 768 or higher
If you have a vast music collection, 100 MB’s is clearly not enough. Since the player supports wireless Bluetooth Stereo, you’ll need a set of wireless Bluetooth speakers or a headset to take advantage of it.
I don’t believe Samsung has ever failed me in the design department. Not even in package design and the T9 is no different. It comes in a white box, displaying the MP3 Player in the midst of various lifestyle silhouette drawings.
Embracing how naturally MP3 Players and gift giving go together, Samsung gives that added touch. Then finally, like the climax to a great symphony, the YP-T9 is revealed.
Beautifully displayed in its glossy black (of course) finish in a size that rivals that of the iPod Nano. Chrome accents indicate a level of luxury.
What’s in the box?
Samsung • • • • •
includes the usual fare with the YP-T9:
Quick Start Guide Software CD Ear Bud Headphones Foam Ear Bud Covers USB Adapter Cable playback
Once again, there is no Travel AC Adapter. I guess 35 hours of audio or 6 hours of video will have to suffice.
Transferring files to the YP-T9 is quick and easy. You can tread it like any USB Flash Drive and simply drag and drop your files right onto the player. For music and photos, as long as you’ve placed your files in the right folders, the T9 will be able to play them. Video is not quite so simple. Given the small size of the player (4GB ), and the fact that many video files are rather large, certain formatting needs to be done. While I would much prefer the ease of use that comes with the ability to drag and drop, I can certainly understand the need for video compression to fit the 220 x 176 screen.
Getting To Know You…
The Samsung YP-T9 packs a lot of features into a very small package. As you can see, it’s smaller than the last generation iPod nano, and is even smaller than Samsung’s YP-Z5 which we’ve reviewed previously.
The 1.8” 262K Color LCD is pleasing to the eye and produces a bright and crisp looking picture. Unfortunately, with the shiny finish, you can see how quickly fingerprints cling to the sleek enclosure.
Controlling the YP-T9 is done mainly using the directional touchpad on the front of the device. This control pad moves away from the touch sensitive pad that has shown up in previous players in favour of a more tactile feel. A positive click goes a long way I guess. More tactile buttons are included on the right hand side of the device which include a play/pause/power button, menu, and back button. Also on the same side is a record/stop button. Don’t worry about hitting record by accident. You do need to hold it own to get it to record. If you are paranoid about hitting buttons, the left side features a lone “Hold” button.
Enter Samsung Media Studio5
At first glance, Media Studio5 looks hauntingly familiar…
Yes, it bares a striking resemblance to iTunes. While I can understand Samsung’s desire to pander to the masses, it’s a shame that Samsung would make their software aesthetically resemble the competition, and a piece of software I don’t much care for. However, familiarity is a strong selling point allowing iPod defectors to feel comfortable right away. Thankfully, that is where the similarity ends. Media Studio5 is incredibly easy to navigate and manage which helps wash nearly all of the distaste about the iTune similarities from my mouth. Adding music from folders is a breeze, and adding them to your MP3 player is a simple…wait for it…drag and drop. Even converting video is relatively painless, and only slightly time consuming.
In a rare miss-step from Samsung, the YP-T9 doesn’t quite sound as good as its predecessors. The ability for MP3 files to sound it is already limited; unfortunately, this new Samsung isn’t quite able to squeeze out every last bit of performance. While perfectly adequate for personal listening through headphones, the T9 sounds just too tinny for my taste while connected via a mini-RCA connector to my home stereo. Although cool, the Bluetooth audio capability was somewhat disappointing. Even though pairing was simple, using a Scosche Bluetooth adapter for my home stereo which includes the Onkyo TX-SR604
and Klipsch RF15 speakers, the sound produced was horrendous, and even tinnier than with the cheap analogue cables used earlier. I did try the Samsung with a portable Bluetooth speaker, and the sound was more pleasant. The YP-T9’s Bluetooth is great for small applications…it’s just not ready for prime time. The YP-T9 does have some bright spots. Video quality was quite good on this little 1.8″ screen. The frame rate is never choppy, and compression artifacts are rather minimal. Not bad if you want video on the go, but can’t be bothered to carry around a portable DVD player, and refuse to deal with the pain that comes with converting video for the video capable iPods. The other thing that sets the Samsung players apart from the iPod crowd is the inclusion of the FM tuner which allows you to take a break from your stale music collection. What would have been really cool is if the YP-T9 ditched the Bluetooth in place of an FM Transmitter so that you could listen to it in your car without purchasing that part separately.
Though this may not be a problem with most of the YP-T9s currently in stores, our evaluation model unfortunately had rather sticky buttons. Having gone away from the “touch sensitive” buttons from the YP-Z5, all the controls are on tactile buttons. While I have no problem with this concept, our model had a hard time sensing the “up” button which also shared the control for volume, which became frustrating. While it is not a telling sign of the entire production line having such a problem, I still felt the need to point this out.
Great for on-the-go applications, but rather lacking at home: That basically sums up the Samsung YP-T9 in my opinion. It’s extremely easy to use and although touch pads are slick, having a tactile touch is reassuring. Despite Media Studio5’s similarities to iTunes, which I’m not so hot about, the software actually works great. The YP-T9 is a no-brainer for those looking for an alternative to the iPod. Its small size, Bluetooth and video capability make it unique and the FM tuner capability gives you a break from stale MP3’s. Did I mention it had a voice recorder built in? Although it’s no iPod killer, it’s nice to see that Samsung isn’t giving up on trying to take a chunk out of the iEmpire.
• • • • • Sleek and attractive design The joy of drag and drop file transfers FM Tuner onboard Long battery life Built in Voice Recorder
• • • • • AC adapter not included Software interface resembles iTunes (but works better) Poor sound quality when attached to a good system Bluetooth wasn’t as cool as we thought it would be Fingerprints are the enemy
Overall Rating: 7.5 / 10.0
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