Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Poor design and service overshadows decent features
on January 22, 2003
This is a small, lightweight unit that has all the requisite features expected in an mp3 player. It does not, however have some of the niceties found in other players such as song title display, voice recording, rechargeable batteries, or song playlists. It also plays ONLY mp3 files, not any other formats.
The player comes with:
-CD with Real Jukebox software for ripping/uploading songs
-Extra battery door
-USB to mini USB cable
Here are the key points to know about this player:
-Functions: The unit itself has volume up/down buttons, stop (power off), play/pause (power on), ff/scan, rew/scan, and a handy hold switch to lock the player in either play/off to prevent accidental bumping of buttons. The headphone port also works as the remote control port (when using remote, headphones attach to remote itself), but can be used with just headphones. There are also 3 EQ settings, but these can only be accessed via the remote. There is no LCD display on the unit itself, only a green/red LED that indicates status.
-Sound quality: While I haven't listened to scores of players, the sound rates as good or better than the other players such as Rio's, Nomad's, and Sony's I've tried. Works with low (32kbps) and high (128 ) bitrate mp3's.
-Remote: The remote is a small cylinder (about size of roll of 35mm film) with a small LCD display that indicates song number (not name), time, volume, EQ, and battery status. The display is also backlit for a few seconds upon each button press. It has the same controls as the main unit, including another hold button(each are independent) and the EQ button. This is a handy feature for those who want the unit stashed away in a pocket and just the remote handy. It has a nice spring clip to attach it somewhere on your clothing or bag strap. The headphones attach to the remote itself, which explains why the included headphones have such a short cord (does not reach from my hip to my ears without remote!)
-Uploading software: Included is the RealJukebox software to burn mp3's (up to 128kbps), manage files, and upload mp3's to the player via USB cable. Personally, I like the Jukebox software, but it can be a pain unless you are meticulous about making sure the file info is accurate (genre, artist, title, etc). Another option is to go to the Samsung website and download the YEPP explorer which just lets you drag and drop. Also, the Yepp explorer is the only way to rearrange song order on your player. Jukebox will not let you do this. I use the Yepp explorer now. The upload times seem hideously long for a USB player. Not sure if this is inherent in the SmartCard flash memory architecture, but when compared to a compact flash card I use for my digital camera, it's like molasses. To upload 64MB of songs, takes about 8 minutes. Not much faster than a serial connection I used for an older Nomad player. If you like changing songs frequently, keep this in mind.
-Battery life: Decent, about 8-10 hours without the remote. About 6-8 with the remote, as it has a display and backlight.
-Poor design throughout: My main beef with this player is that there are some real shoddy design elements such as the battery latch and the belt clip. First off, the battery door design is so poor, they acknowledge it by including an extra battery door! Well, what happens if, as in my case, it's the latch on the unit itself that breaks? Here is the direct quote from Samsung customer support:
"Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Broken component are considered out of warranty conditions. I'm sorry our player did not perform to your expectations." That's it? I knew the latch was doomed, because it's so small and narrow and would fatigue over repeated battery replacements. So now I am sadly relegated to utilizing masking tape to keep the batteries in place because it's one of those designs where the battery door acts as the contact and counters the battery springs on the other end as opposed to a more sensible design that houses all contacts within the unit itself, with the door only acting as an access cover. This of course means every time I need to change batteries (since this has no rechargeable ones), I must break out the masking tape. ...! Then there's the belt clip, glorified strips of plastic that criss cross all over the unit, covering half the buttons. The last time I saw a clip like this, it was on my cousin's original Sony walkman from 1980! Functionally, it works, and you can still press the buttons through the plastic. I have run with it and worked out with it frequently, though the cheesy plastic holster makes me cringe in public. These poorly designed elements reflect the gap between Samsung's vision of quality with that of other brands like Sony. This unit was denied a proper QA review before heading to production, and just before shipping, someone said "hey how about a belt clip? oh and throw in an extra battery door".
In conclusion, while this player does everything it needs to, it does absolutely nothing more. Also beware of some shoddy design and a battery cover that will require masking tape within a year. If you can live with that, and you can find this unit cheap enough to justify these hassles, go for it. Otherwise, look elsewhere because Samsung's customer service will only tell you sorry it didn't live up to your expectations.