So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Small, slim and light, Foldable USB drive, Fully customisable nine-band equaliser, display shows next track
- Lack of 3D sound options seen on most other Samsung models, average headphones, No FM radio or Line-In recording, limited playlist support, poor voice recording
The U1 is definitely a worthy alternative to the popular Apple iPod shuffle and its included screen and equalisation settings are admirable features - at the expense of solid battery life.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
The Samsung YP-U1 is a stylish and compact MP3 player which provides serious competition for Apple's popular iPod Shuffle. Its convenient flip out USB drive and simple controls are only let down by an average battery life and no FM radio.
Vastly similar in appearance to the Shuffle, the U1 is coated in a sleek white finish and complemented with chrome controls, creating a classy looking player. The USB drive features a small slide down cover which conceals the fold-out jack and it is a design which we much prefer over the Shuffles clip on cover, which is easily lost. Generally, most will appreciate Samsung enabling the device to be plugged straight into a PC without the need for cables or other attachments. In addition, the U1 doubles as a USB flash drive which may appeal to those who would like the convenience of carrying around important files or documents.
The U1 doesn't have a colour screen, but its monochrome display with a white backlight works well and is bright and clear in all lighting conditions. The screen is rather small, which may have some users squinting, but it displays what it needs to with a minimum of fuss and even includes a handy row of text which displays the name of the next track that is to be played. The U1 also includes the standard battery life indicator, track number, equalisation option selected and current track name and time elapsed information.
The controls on the U1 are minimal and uncomplicated, which is just the way we like it. A 4-way navigation pad surrounding a large Menu button, a Play/Pause button, a A-B/Record button and a Hold switch are implemented on the front of the unit, Despite our desire for a scroll wheel and the minimal size of the volume and track buttons, the U1 controls are some of the best we've seen on a portable music player. The Menu key is touch sensitive meaning that a short press will bring up the directory interface while a longer press takes you to the main menu.
The U1 provides support for multiple file formats including MP3, OGG, Audio ASF, WMA and Secure WMA. In terms of features it is pretty sparse, with no FM Radio or Line-In recording, although Samsung have included voice recording. Unfortunately we found that the microphone doesn't have a good range, meaning that unless you are fairly close to the unit, the recording is ineffectual. Transfer rates were average, with 30 songs taking just over two minutes to transfer to the unit from a PC.
The U1 does offer playlist support, but only one Playlist can be managed at a time. A long press of the hold button while browsing the tree-directory style menu will add a track into the playlist. Users are able to delete tracks from the player itself, which is welcome news to those who have been screaming out for this to be included on the iPod range.
The sound quality of the unit is above average, with a fair amount of bass and decent treble levels. The supplied stereo headphones were average and like most music players, we recommend purchasing a set of quality headphones to get the best sound out of the unit. What impressed us most was Samsung including a full nine band customisable equaliser, in addition to the standard preset equalisation settings and bass booster. For those who desire thumping bass, you will need the bass booster on at all times, but for most users, the standard bass will be enough. Tweaking with the equaliser was an enjoyable experience and something we hope to see implemented on more portable music models in the future. Disappointingly however, the lack of 3D sound options seen on most other Samsung models were not included.
The U1 is let down by a somewhat average battery life, with the unit lasting only 12 hours. Much like Apple and the iPod issues with battery life, Samsung have come under much scrutiny with their portable music players and they still haven't provided a workable solution. This is most disappointing when you consider that their portable music players are generally admirable products.
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