Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Product Review: Samsung YP-U1Q 2GB Digital Audio Player

I received the Samsung YP-U1Q 2GB DAP last week and been using it as my portable player for some time. It has since replaced my Creative MuVo Micro 1GB as my daily player, both for sports and casual use. I won this from somewhere (can't remember what it was that I entered, must be from a mag or website - I enter in loads of competitions, trying to get freebies). In this review I will occasionally compare the YP-U1 to the Creative MuVo Micro/Zen Nano Plus.

The body, in classic lighter shape, is made of plastic with in two tone colour (black and silver) set against a chromed directional pad. The plastic is strong and doesn't 'feel' cheap. And for glossy haters like me, well it isn't glossy. This means less fingerprints to look at. Also my toy came in black. Black. Yes. Black. Not dull white.

On the back side there is a full size USB plug that folds away into the body hidden by a switch. The fold away design is quite annoying but on the whole I found it liberating to be able to find a PC and literally plug-in and play without any cumbersome cables. You won't be needing any special proprietary clutter ware softwares like Itunes to transfer files. The full size USB plus is also a necessary because that is the only way to charge the player.

Annoyingly Samsung did not provide a wall socket charger for people on the go. Fortunately there are third party USB slot wall chargers already on the market for around ten quid so it isn't that bad.

It takes about a mere 2 hours to fully charge the battery. Note that this may depend on the amount of power that your PC's USB slot is able to provide. For example I tested this on a six year old Dell Inspiron and the USB port would only supply enough juice to charge the player when in BIOS. The battery itself depletes in roughly 12 hours of usage the first time I used it. It isn't bad, but I wished it would be as good as Sony DAPs (which can exceed 30 hours on some models) or even Creative Zen Nanos.

The four line LCD screen contains a white backlit that is easy on the eye. I wish there was also an option to invert the backlit for nighttime usage (white text over black background) but as it is, the screen is easy to read.

A lanyard loop can be found on the top of the device close to the 3.5mm headphone socket. It is rather close and I could foresee problems with trying to fit bigger plugs into the socket. Bad Samsung for the idiotic lanyard loop placement.

The navigational d-pad also doubles as the next/forward/volume up/volume down button. Curiosly the centre d-pad isn't for play/pause, but for triggering the menu/playlist/ok/close functions. Weird. The play/pause/stop button is on the side of the body which isn't the best place to have one. I can live with that but I do wish Samsung took the common sense route and made the BIGGEST button the play/pause button.

There is also a dedicated Hold button on the bottom side of the player which is similar to those found on many models of Sony Walkmans. This is a huge improvement over Creative's implementation of the Hold function (you need to activate it through the menu, which was hardly intuitive).

The player supports MP3, WMA, WMA VBR, WMA DRM and most importantly the verenable OggVorbis file format. Support for OGG is said to include VBR but it seems to hate my custom Ogg VBR settings, which is a real shame.

Sound fidelity is comparable to the Creative. It has a dedicated bass boost option and a 9 band graphical equaliser (the Creative had 5-band) and I threw everything at it - Thrash, pop, classical, jazz etc. and all sound fine if you play around with the custom equaliser. The included earphones isn't that bad as far as freebie earphones are concerned but is pretty awful when compared to the Creative freebie.

The only major problems seems to be that on certain computers like my girlfriend's, the player seems to freeze the PC when plugged into a PC that is starting up or shutting down. Transfering large number of files is also slow for some reason. It is quick the first time around but since then it was a hassle. It may just be disagreeing with her PC because on mine it works just fine.

It costs roughly £80-£90 to purchase this from a high street shop which is a bargain me thinks. Well I got it for free so it's even better, but even at £90, that is roughly £50 cheaper than a 2GB iPod Nano and just £10 more than a screenless plasticy and ugly 1GB iPod Shuffle. Sony also has a 2GB lighter style model for £100 and appears to have a much better battery technology (50 hours on a single charge) but you may have to offset that against Samsung's ease of use. If you don't need 2GB, the newer Samsung YP-U2 1GB model comes in at £70 (high street price) and features an updated design (it has an exposed USB plug, better d-pad and INVERTED backlit).

A note of warning though, Samsung is notorious for poor customer service. Occasionally companies like Creative, Sony and Samsung would release new firmwares for their DAP products which is fine, as it tends to fix problems, introduce new features and improve battery life. However unlike Creative, Samsung's website only host the OLDER version of the firmware. The version on my player was 3.x where as the one on the website was 2.x, a full one product update BELOW, and that isn't including all the dot upgrades since then. Pitiful.

However don't let that distract you. Out of the box the player and new, the YP-U1Q is a handy and versatile player. It lost some of the functionality that came with my Creative MuVo/Zen, but it remembers that it is first and foremost a Digital Music Player and not pretends to be something else. It does what it does good and that is a blessing for people on the market for that. There are no gimmicks, no crappy games, no built-in calendar or address book or movie player.


Nice classic lighter style design
Non-glossy body
High impact plastic (I dropped this on the pavement and no scractes were found)
Rechargable battery (lasted about 15 hours on my first charge)
Intuitive menu
No multiple playlists
Support for WMA VBR, OggVorbis and MP3 file formats
Sound quality is pretty good (similar to the Creative) and abit louder too


Fewer functions compared to the equalvelent Creative DAPs (no handy line-in recordings or FM radio)
Non-removable battery
No charger included - you will have to charge via USB
Seems to be freezing the computer if not removed from USB slot before shutting down/starting up PC


Unknown said...

do you , by any chance , happen to know how exactly take it apart . my warranty is over and the audio-pot broke down . ive fixed other mp3´s before but just cant figure this one out . i removed the four screws and the upper part of the shell ( the one with the plexiglas screen ) . dont know what to do next , but i have to get the microsceme out of the way to get to the audio outlet . ( sorry if i made any mistakes - im no so good in english ) . thanks .

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jon Choo said...

"Andreya said...

Hi Nice Blog .Setting the backlight to “always on” will significantly reduce your ipod battery (URL spam removed) life. Only use the backlight when necessary."

Yeah... but this is a review of a Samsung DAP, not an iPod...

@Kaur, sorry. Not too sure about that.