on October 31, 2011
There are a lot of people who are comparing this to the iPod touch, and rightfully so. But I thought I'd give it a different perspective, as someone who has owned both the 4.0 and 5.0.
First off, I love these Galaxy Players. They both run the Android OS 2.3.5 (Gingerbread), which is a very slick, smooth, easy-to-use interface. In my opinion, it's a little more complicated than iOS, but nothing that's overwhelming, and if you've used a touch-based OS, you can get the hang of this in no time.
Both players are solid and well-built, with GPS, rear and forward-facing cameras, a microSD slot and stereo speakers. Aside from the power and volume buttons, there are no other hardware buttons on either device; the home and menu buttons are touch-sensitive. This can be a bit of a pain if you hold the device in landscape mode, though, as the buttons are sensitive and I find myself accidentally pressing them. This is of course, easily remedied by holding it from the other side.
You can also access the Android Market from both devices, which opens them up to thousands of apps which enhance each unit's useability and functionality. And because both have microphones and speakers, if you have access to wifi, you can use Skype or Google Voice to use the Players as phones. Truth be told, judging by Samsung's bundling headphones with microphones and how much they look like phones, I'd imagine that's what they're thinking most people will use these as--phone replacements.
And speaking of replacing gadgets, because Google Maps now allows you to cache maps for use offline, you can replace your GPS unit with the SG Players. It has built-in GPS and turn-by turn navigation software. You'll still need internet before you leave for your destination, but once you've cached the maps, you're good to go. I've only tested it once, but it seems to work like a charm. And using wifi and GPS, your location can be displayed startlingly accurately with satellite maps.
While everything I've written so far is true for both devices, there are differences between the two, and some potential buyers who are on the fence may want to know about them before deciding:
- The 4.0 has a much sharper screen than the 5.0. Both have an 800 x 600 pixel display, but because the 5.0 uses a 5-inch LCD, pixel density is obviously higher on the smaller 4.0. Plus, Samsung incorporated their Super-Clear technology, and the colors really pop on the 4.0, with blacks looking deeper. The 5.0, though, is still very nice.
- The 4.0 has a user-replaceable battery, which is easily accessed when you pop off the rear cover. The 5.0's rear cover cannot be removed, so no access to the battery.
- The 4.0 has a 1200mAh (5 hrs. video/36 hrs. audio) battery while the 5.0 has 2500mAh (8 hrs. video/60 hrs. audio).
- The 5.0's rear camera has an LED flash, while the 4.0's camera does not.
- The 5.0's microSD card slot is easily opened via a small flap on the side. The 4.0 requires you to open the entire back of the unit to access the slot, much like on a cell phone.
- Both units have a vibrate function, but it appears that full haptic feedback is not an option available for use on the 5.0. I checked the settings on both, and haptic feedback and intensity are both options on the 4.0, while it's not on the 5.0. I'm not sure why.
- And finally, maybe it's just my unit, but the touchscreen doesn't seem as accurate on the 5.0 as it does on the 4.0. I make more mistakes typing, open up wrong apps, or click on incorrect links on the 5.0 than I did on the 4.0 (despite the 4.0's screen being smaller). Like I said, maybe it's my imagination or just my unit, but the 4.0's touchscreen seemed more precise. Not by a lot, and it's not a major issue, just my personal observation. I'd probably not have noticed it had I not owned both devices and used both side-by-side for a few days.
Again, these are all small differences, so it'll depend on what you're looking for. If you want a solid multimedia device in place of an iPod touch, get the 4.0. If you want a small tablet, like I did, I'd go for the 5.0. It is a little large (I get strange looks from people who think it's my phone), but it's perfect for viewing movies, maps, and photos. It's a great device that suits my needs perfectly.
I'd have given the SGP 5.0 five stars, but I don't like how I feel like I had to compromise between the better quality screen and user-replaceable battery of the 4.0 and the larger screen, LED flash, and easily accessed microSD slot of the 5.0.
Still, I love both, and though I returned the 4.0, I'd easily recommend it over a similarly-priced iDevice (and this is coming from an Apple fanboy). But for me, the 5.0 is in a class by itself!
**UPDATE** - I also wanted to mention something I noticed about the cameras on these units. Yes, they are both 3 MP cameras, so they take much better pictures than the iPad or iPod touch, but they also suffer horribly from shutter lag (the time it takes from button press to the picture being taken). You press the shutter button, the camera hunts for focus, and then it goes off. From the ten or so pictures I took indoors, they all took at least a second or two between shutter press and the photo actually being taken. This may be acceptable for still subjects, but for kids or moving subjects, this renders the camera nearly useless. It wasn't a deal breaker for me, as I'll probably just use the camera to scan receipts or barcodes, but everyone else should keep in mind that the SGP will most likely not replace your dedicated digital camera.