Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Excellent design, Easy to use, Wide range of playback modes
- Games aren't worth the time, Built-in microphones are average
Well-designed, easy to use and feature-rich, the YP-T9B will suit anyone looking for a 2GB media player. It's an excellent buy.
Price$ 289.00 (AUD)
Samsungs answer to the iPod nano (2nd Generation), the 2GB YP-T9B multimedia player, is small and lightweight while offering features above and beyond what its nearest competitor can muster. Slightly thicker and heavier than the nano, the T9B is shorter and dominated by a 1.8in screen, twice as large as the nano. The price is also cheaper and with the added bonus of drag-and-drop file management, games, FM radio, text reader, image viewer and video playback, the T9B leaves you questioning if buying Apple is a worthy option. Also, take note of the Bluetooth functionality, which is a great addition for those sick of tangled headphone wires.
These days the climate of multimedia players is starting to look more and more similar. It takes something unique or remarkable to set a player apart from the rest. For the most part the YP-T9B is on-par with the SanDisk Sansa e260 but it does have a handful of extra features that may win over the hearts of potential buyers.
The YP-T9B supports audio and video playback and it features a voice recorder, image viewer, text file viewer, FM Radio and even Java Games.
One of the funkiest things about this product is its support A2DP stereo music streaming via Bluetooth 2.0. There are few digital media players on the market at the moment that have this functionality. Many users dislike wired headphones and prefer the convenience of a Bluetooth solution. However up until recently, they have been forced to turn to mobile phones with media software or clunky Bluetooth dongles if they wanted to use a pair of wireless headphones.
The T9B changes this, offering full music support for your stereo headphones. We tested with a pair of Motorola Bluetooth DJ Headphones, the S805s, and the combination worked together quite well. There was a small drop in quality when using wireless headphones, and a noticeable delay, but this is usually the case for Bluetooth headphones. Aside from that, everything operated flawlessly and we were thoroughly satisfied with the audio quality.
Audio playback is supported for Mpeg 1/2/3 files, as well as WMA and OGG, all of which support ID2 and ID3 tags. We found the audio quality to be top-notch with no noticeable problems. However, this was when using our own high-end headphones. The Headphones that ship with the unit are reasonable, but by no means exceptional. They tend to lose separation between instruments and finer details, especially in music with multiple sound elements, which end up combining into noise rather than music. These are no worse than the headphones that come standard with most multimedia players.
While we love the ability to drag-and-drop files directly onto the player, Samsung has failed to instigate automated ID-tag reading for these files. If you transfer your music to the player using their proprietary software, the tracks are sorted via artist and track name and are accessible from the "Music" menu. However, if you drag-and-drop the file, none of this crucial information is registered by the firmware and is therefore not included in the sorting process. To access these songs, you have to find them by entering the "Browse folders" menu and find them on the T9B's hard drive manually. This is a very odd approach for Samsung to take and it's frustrating. This makes it hard to avoid using the restrictive Music Manager software.
Unfortunately, when it comes to video playback, you have no choice but to use the Samsung software. The reason for this is that the player only accepts files in SVI format. SVI is a Samsung format, which uses the MPEG4 codec for compression and all files have to be converted to this format if they are to be viewable on the player. This is no new feat for most multimedia player veterans since the iPod and most other small players take the same approach. Since the screen is of high quality and resolution, the videos we tested looked perfect with no problems whatsoever. The only drawback was that in order to make it look that good, the transcoding process took an exorbitant amount of time.
The FM Radio functionality worked surprisingly well. We have reviewed player upon player with substandard FM radio capabilities where stations wouldn't tune-in properly or would be hampered by harsh white noise. Thankfully, the FM Radio on the YP-T9B worked without incident and was both simple and effective to use when defining station presets.
The YP-K9B can view images up to 3MB in size, which can be arranged in a slideshow or scrolled through manually. We didn't have any problems with this mode. Our test images all worked perfectly and were clear and bright. There were no blemishes on the photos as a result of the downscaling and no undue pixelation.
While the text file viewer is a nifty addition, we have to question its usefulness. On a device with a much larger screen it is conceivable that this may be a handy feature, as you can download a text file version of Great Expectations and read it on the train. The screen on the YP-T9B is too small for this, and since there is no wrap around on sentences, reading anything on this screen can be an uncomfortable experience.
The games that come built-in are barely worth the time you will spend frustratingly attempting to play them. Pizza Delivery and Baseball have annoying controls that are completely unresponsive. Attempting to hit a ball in the baseball game is a one-way trip to the mental asylum. Pizza Delivery is a crazy version of Moon Patrol; the objective is to jump objects and holes, but the delay in the controls means that you have to press the button long before you need to and the challenge becomes not delivering pizza, but refraining from throwing the whole unit hard against a wall.
Voice recorder and Bluetooth
The voice recording function works quite well via the in-built microphone. We recorded voice from various distances to check at which point the sound becomes unusable. At 10-30cm from the microphone, the audio was clear and easy to understand. Between 30cm and 1m, the sound became muffled, but was still usable. It was at about 1.5-2 metres that the sound was a little too distant to be listened to comfortably. We also tested the Bluetooth capabilities of the unit. The YP-T9B supports Bluetooth 1.2 and it's useful for connecting Bluetooth headsets to the player. The YP-T9B found our headset easily and it was paired without a problem.
The interface is definitely one of the strong points of this player. It's not only attractive, but it's very easy to navigate and very logical. All menus open up to the right of each other, much like the iPod, but the colourful nature of the menus, and the clean and attractive look, make this a device that is instantly usable without any confusion at all. In addition, the desktop colours, and even the colour of the text, can be customised.
If you're in the market for a 2GB multimedia player and were chomping at the bit for an iPod nano, this may well be a cheaper alternative. It comes with a bucket-load of features, yet it's compact and lightweight. We have no problems recommending this unit to anyone looking for a 2GB player. It's an excellent buy.
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