The MP3-player landscape is littered with me-too merchandise, so a new product needs a little something extra if it’s to rise above the noise. Samsung’s YP-K5 succeeds with clever slide-out speakers and a 1.7-inch OLED screen; unfortunately, its $210 asking price is much too steep for a player with just 2GB of flash memory.
Samsung’s pricing strategy is regrettable because the YP-K5 looks great and sounds terrific with headphones. While we’d never classify its diminutive speakers as “hi-fi” (drivers measuring just one-half-inch wide can push only so much air), they’re better than some of the portable add-on jobs we’ve auditioned. They slide out from the bottom of the player on a sturdy set of rails to form a convenient stand. You wouldn’t want to subject your ears to these speakers for any length of time, but they come in handy when you want to share a tune with a friend.
All but the crappiest earbuds sound better than the YP-K5’s microscopic speakers, but we were impressed by the audio quality and uniquely comfortable design of Samsung’s earphones: Their bodies fit snugly outside your ear canals, while pliable rubber tips protrude ever so slightly into them. They’re much more comfortable than most models we’ve tested, and when paired with the YP-K5, they serve up plenty of punchy bass without compromising the middle and high end of the dynamic range.
We found the player’s touch-screen controls to be just slightly twitchy, but Samsung puts the OLED to good use with an intuitive user interface for browsing your music and photo collections and changing the player’s many settings. The display, which automatically changes to fit the player’s horizontal or vertical orientation, defaults to a graphic EQ with the current song title scrolling beneath it. This is eventually replaced by a programmable screensaver (choices include an analog clock, animated graphics, and digital photos). The player doesn’t support video at all.
The speakers accomplish their goal of rendering Samsung’s YP-K5 unique, but we expect a lot more than a gimmick for this kind of money.
Month Reviewed: February 2007 + NEIL DIAMOND: Rhapsody and PlaysForSure support, great sounding earphones, excellent display. - BLOOD DIAMOND: Doesn’t play video, and the built-in speakers don’t justify the high price tag. Verdict: 6 URL:www.samsung.com