Recently I got my hands on a Samsung YP-S3 MP3 player.
It was pretty small and thin product, very much in the Apple Nano space. It is a flash based MP3 player and the one I have is a 2GB model. According to the specs, the player plays audio (MP3, WMA and OGG), video (MPEG4, SVI) and also will show JPEG files. It has an FM radio which I care about and some games loaded which I don’t care much about. Other than the USB port for transferring the files and for charging the product and a earphone port, there is only one physical button used for power on or off the player. The same button can be pushed to a HOLD mode to prevent accidental presses during playback.
The product comes in a package that is a clear plastic box which is pretty solid. It is quite nice (as compared to being hidden in a paper box like other MP3 players) and it means that you are tempted to not just throw it away but instead will keep it to keep your player when not in use or maybe to store the supplied installation CD and the accessories in it. There is even a simple locking system in the tray holding the MP3 player to “lock” the player so that it does not drop off (although I wonder what’s the value since you will take it out to use once you buy it). But that’s at least a good thoughtful idea from Samsung.
The first thing that stuck me was that this player’s entire interface is invisible underneath the shiny black exterior. That is…….
Until the buttons light up:
The controls light up when they are being used, and fade out when you stop using them. Wow.
It makes use of touch sensitive buttons and the buttons react pretty well to my touch except for the left button. Somehow when I tried to press the left button, the system seemed to think I am pressing the centre button. I needed to go a bit more left (in fact, almost to the edge of the left side) to make it clear that I want the left button.
The menus in the player are pretty simple to understand and relatively straightforward to set up. Nothing amazing here but just means you are up and running very quickly.
One thing I like was the different fonts available. If you have an iPod, you have 1 font. That’s it. The Samsung YP-S3 gives you a selection of several fonts. On this following screen, you can see the cute fonts that I have chosen. You can see the curvy font in the top half that shows that I am at the “Music” section of the player. Also see the font of the title of the song “I Am Your Angel”
The video screen, however, is nothing compared to the Nano and my album art does not look as good on the Samsung player (it is so small and full of pixelation.. I really wonder why !).
To be fair, not many people cared about how an album art looks like on a MP3 player except me. I still find the album art on iPod super nice.
One thing I noticed for many other MP3 players is the in-ability to handle Unicode files. Usually an Chinese MP3 file will look “garbage” in the player. So I transferred a few Chinese songs coded in MP3 ID3v2.3 UTF-16 format to the Samsung player. When I choose the album details screen, I got the album, artist, genre and song title all properly done up on the screen ! I am very pleased !
There are a couple of different views you can have on the Samsung YP-S3 when you are playing the songs. You can be using the album art view (as above) or the album/artist/genre/song title view (as above) or the musical visualizations that add the visual element to your music experience (see below):
Nothing too outstanding but well, more interesting than the iPod 🙂
I looked at the video quality of this player by playing the supplied cartoon clips. It was pretty good ! Very clear and nice. Which puzzles me since the album art did not look so clear…. probably the player handled album art and videos differently.
I read in the internet that it is possible to see the lyrics of the songs on the screen of the Samsung YP-S3. At first, I loaded my MP3 files which always have lyrics (using the “unsynchronized lyrics” MP3 ID tag) but when I loaded it into the player, I could not see the lyrics, no matter which screen I choosen. Thinking that it was possible that I need to use the supplied Samsung media software, I then installed the media software and verified that my lyrics are in the MP3 files and indeed the media software could read them. I then transferred the MP3 files over to the player via the Samsung media software instead of manually. But still, I could not see the lyrics no matter which screen I see.
The FM radio quality was pretty clear (I guess it depends on your location) and for a while, I enjoyed listening to the FM radio more than the MP3 tracks. Is that good ? 🙂
How about the sound quality of the MP3 player. After some careful listening, I found it comparable to the iPods I have and I guess at the price, it is a worthy competitor to the Apple products in terms of sound quality and ease of use. However, if I want a better sound from a MP3 player, I will probably turn to a Microsoft Zune or a Creative Zen.
To summarize, I am happy to have another MP3 player to play around with and enjoy a little world outside of the Apple. However, in my heart, hopefully I can get my hands on the new Creative X-Fi MP3 player soon and see how it feels to have that highly rated player.