Did you know that Apple isn't your only option when it comes to choosing a new MP3 player? Pretty shocking, huh? What's more, many of the offerings from other companies actually boast more features than any iPod on the market, but is this enough to snag some market share from the Cupertino giant? Samsung thinks so and they're making a mild attempt at toppling the Steve Jobs-fueled juggernaut with the Samsung YP-K5 MP3 player.
Clearly, the YP-K5 isn't Samsung's first attempt at the world of portable music. They've had several players in the past, but one thing that really sets the K5 apart from any other device out there is the fact that it comes with a built-in speaker. What's more, the speaker stays completely hidden until you need it, at which point you just slide 'er out and share your choice of Kanye West or 50 Cent. Or Tony Bennett, if that's what you prefer.
How does the Samsung YP-K5 stand up to the test? Is the speaker a useful addition or is it just a dumb gimmick that no one will want anyways? Let's find out.
The first thing that you see when you buy any given product is the packaging. In this respect, Samsung has done a reasonably good job with the K5. The outside box is really just a sleeve, showing off the device in its "open" position. The box is mostly white with a few random blue graphics. The black inner box is clearly trying to display a certain level of prestige, because it has the words "For You" in a highly stylized font. This, in turn, opens up to reveal the music player itself.
Interestingly, it looks like all you get is the music player, but that's where the clever packaging comes into play. There's a hidden flap of sorts that says "open"; flip this open and you'll discover the USB cable and the earphones. Pretty neat. It's also notable that the top flap that you opened to reveal the player contains the instruction manual and the software CD. I like this arrangement, because it looks very clean and simple, while providing plenty of space to stow the stuff back if you need to.
In terms of the actual MP3 player itself, I actually like the glossy black appearance paired with the matte black back. I personally felt that the YP-K5 more closely resembled a stylish cell phone than it did a standalone music player. The build quality is very solid and there is very little "give" to the sliding mechanism, which really provides great peace of mind.
Looking for buttons and switches, you won't find very many. At the top of the player is a single switch that serves two purposes. Slide and hold it one way to turn the YP-K5 on and off. Slide it the other way to activate the keyguard "hold" mode that prevents you from accidentally changing tracks or adjusting the volume. All of the primary controls are done via touch sensitive controls on the face of the player, similar to the virtual "buttons" you get on the LG Chocolate Phone.
Just like the Chocolate, these remain hidden until you touch them. Generally, up and down are to adjust the volume whereas left and right are to change tracks. The center "button" is to select, whereas the top-left button corresponds to "back". The final virtual button is on the lower-right and that's to bring up the menu. When you hold the player horizontally with the speaker exposed, the controls rotate themselves accordingly. I found their use to be surprisingly responsive, but a pain when you want to change songs while going for a jog, for example. This is because you can't "feel" for the buttons like you would with conventional controls.