With the incredible number and range of mp3 players out there, vendors are using feature richness as a competitive differentiator.
Samsung, it seems, is doing this aggressively.
Its new mp3 players have a couple of things in common: sleek designs and a smorgasbord of features.
A good example is the Samsung YP-T9 – that includes a Bluetooth-enabled version, the Samsung YP-T9JB.
The T9 exemplifies Samsung’s strategy of packing a lot of punch into a slim, light-weight device. Besides playing mp3 files, you can use the doodad to listen to FM Radio, view pictures, videos, and text, do voice and FM broadcast recordings, and even play games.
And the wide assortment of features notwithstanding, the device just weighs around 49 gms, and fits comfortably in your palm (dimensions: 42.6 x 83 x 11 mm).
To transfer music, video, images or any other files from your computer to the device, you need to first install the Samsung Media Studio application from the included CD.
To hook up your computer to the T9, Samsung has provided a proprietary cable instead of a standard USB cable. To me that’s a disadvantage. While one end of the cable fits into the computer’s USB port, the end that goes into the T9 looks more like something that would connect to a mobile phone.
Samsung Media Studio is by and far a user friendly application and enables very quick transfer of music and image files from the computer to the T9.
Files can be transferred individually or in batches, and the application also allows you to easily create multiple playlists. Transfer of image files is also a breeze – it’s a simple button-driven process.
When it comes to portables, especially mp3 players, I don’t believe multiple features necessarily translate into competitive advantage. Added features only provide an edge – and potentially influence buying decisions – when the player performs its core function – playing mp3 audio files – really well.
And the YP-T9 certainly passes muster in this regard.
I was impressed with the rich quality of audio emanating from the included earphones.
The ‘3D User Set’ option allows you to set 3D levels on a range from 0-5 and the base levels on a 0-3 range.
Increasing levels does produce a perceptible difference in sound quality, creating a kind of surround sound effect.
The Music settings on the player include a “street mode” – which, according to the user manual, lets you “enjoy the music outdoors as clearly as indoors.”
However, the only tangible difference I noted when I turned the street mode on was a significant increase in volume.
The drawback with the included earphones is that they’re of the in-canal variety, which can be rather uncomfortable (this is the case with other Samsung mp3 players I’ve tested, including the YP-K5).
With no head harness (they aren’t headphones), they aren’t a good option for listening to music or the FM radio during your daily jog, for instance.
My suggestion: invest in separate headphones if you get the device.
(One feature I miss in the YP-T9 is the built in speaker that’s available in the YP-K5. In that model the speaker slides out and tilts upward on a 45 degree angle. While the quality of sound on the K5 speakers wasn’t exactly great, it allowed for greater flexibility when listening to audio. For instance, I used it to listen to podcasts while driving to work).
Though it doesn’t a built in speaker, the YP-T9 does include other pretty compelling features that set it apart from many of the other multi-purpose mp3 players out there.
For instance, today the ability to listen to FM radio on your mp3 device is not exceptional – but the ability to instantly record what you’re listening too is.
The YP-T9 offers this feature.
Pressing and holding an A/B button on the player allows you to record an FM Radio broadcast (when the player is in that mode) or to make a voice recording.
Likewise, to support easy access of the disparate media residing on the YP-T9 – music, pictures, video, text, recorded voice and FM – Samsung has included a File Browser capability.
Selecting this tab provides you with a list of data folders: Music, Text, Pictures, Video and so on. Selecting one of these folders, in turn, allows you to access all materials in that category in one location.
The ability to tune into FM Radio on the YP-T9 is a useful function, especially given the added ability to record what you listen to. However, the quality of the FM broadcasts is variable. In my tests, with some stations – such as 97.3 Easy Rock, for instance – the audio was absolutely awesome. In other cases, there was a great deal of ambient noise.
The player allows you to automatically search for frequencies, and when you use this option, generally only stations with good quality audio The ear phones need to be connected to the player when searching or setting frequencies, and listening to broadcasts.
That’s because the earphones are used as antennas for FM radio reception. (However, the FM Radio feature does work with other headphones. I used my noise cancelling headphones, and a non-branded pair of very basic stereo headphones – and I could listen to the FM radio).
Video – foxed by formats
The image size on the T9 is too small for the device to be of any practical use as a picture viewer. The same goes of the video.
Besides, the only video format the device recognizes is SVI – and transferring files from other popular video formats to your device can be a challenge.
The manual informs you that when a video file is transferred from your PC to the T9 (using the Media Studio application) the file is automatically converted into SVI format before transfer. “The file size is automatically adjusted, too,” the manual says. My experience, however, was a bit different.
When I attempted such a transfer, the Media Studio application did not recognize the popular video formats on my computer, including Windows Media Video and AVI video files.
The two preloaded SVI videos on the device, however, are razor sharp, and feature vivid colours. And though they play on a screen that’s no bigger than a large postage stamp, they’re pretty compelling.
More bang with Bluetooth
A word on the Bluetooth capability of the YP-T9 JBAB.
To take advantage of this feature you need a Bluetooth headset meant for mobile players – such as the Jabra BT620.
This is not supplied with the T9 player, and would put you out an additional $150 or so if you buy it brand new at one of the Canadian online retail stores such as Baka Wireless.
Before using the headset to listen to mp3 audio files on the T9 you will need to pair it with the player. It’s a short process, but something you have to repeat each time you use the Bluetooth feature.
After I went through the pairing process, I could listen to T9 mp3 audio files on the Bluetooth Jabra cordless headset at within a range of around 4 -5 feet from the player. The Jabra headset also allows you to control the T9 player (move to the next or prior audio file, forward wind, rewind, pause etc.) using