Currently Tinkering: Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2

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I just purchased a Samsung Android media player. Really, it’s just a media player, not a phone. Based on the looks, you can really mistake it for a Samsung Galaxy S, just like you can mistake an iPod Touch for an iPhone. And based on the price, it is the obvious competition too.

Basic price of this device is around PhP9,000 to PhP10,000. The price can be comparable to an 16gb iPod Touch. I got this device a few days ago through a sale at Abensons (WalterMart, Dasmarinas). I got this at half the original price. The sale was restricted with Citibank Credit Card only. It was a surprise that cash payment was not accepted too. But anyway, back to the device. This is really designed to be a competitor to the iPod Touch no doubt. Here are the specifications:

  • 4.2 Inch TFT LCD (480×800)
  • Front Stereo Speakers
  • Gyro Sensor
  • 1Ghz Processor
  • GPS/Geo Tagging
  • BlueTooth 3.0
  • USB 2.0
  • Audio Enhancement System
  • microSD support up to 32gb
  • Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • 8gb internal storage
  • 512mb ram
  • Multitouch Capacative Screen

Supported Media Files:

  • Audio: MP3, WMA, Ogg, FLAC, WAV, AAC
  • Video: DivX, MPEG4, WMV, H.264

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Based on the design, it looks amazing. As I said earlier, it really looks like a Samsung Galaxy S. The screen is much bigger than an iPod Touch and it’s thin enough to fit into a pocket. There is a 2 megapixel camera and vga camera at the front. There are no buttons or slots on the left and top side. There is sleep/power button and a volume control on the right side. There is a micro usb and earphone port at the bottom. The speakers can be found on the top and bottom of the device which can switch to left or right if you turn it on its side. There are 2 capacative buttons (menu and back) and 1 physical button (home) which can be found at the front of the player.

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Based on specifications, the best thing about this device is that it has a lot of media support. So playing files is mostly not much of an issue. The internal memory is 8gb, but it is partitioned that you won’t be able to access it all and it can be very limiting, but knowing that you can put in a microSD up to 32gb to expand its memory is like heaven sent. Although it’s not hot swappable because the memory card slot is blocked by the batter compartment. The operating system is Android Gingerbread, which is a bit questionable since there are new ones out there already. It does work quite well enough though.

Testing the device on preinstalled stuff alone, of course the video looked great. Seems to look HD enough. Images are crisp and clear. At dark, some light bleeding can be seen, but this is just a minor nuisance, you’d barely notice it. The media player works simple and so does the audio player.

I played music all through out the day in my car. I was using a CDR-King FM Transmitter since my car disk player is broke and I don’t have an aux input for it. I was used to using the Galaxy 5 as my basic player, but after hearing the Galaxy Player, I do believe that the audio output is so much clearer.

I tested a few video formats, I couldn’t test all of them since I don’t have all file types. But based on my tests here are the results.

  • 1080p mkv doesn’t work
  • 720p mp4 works
  • 480p mkv works
  • 480p divx works
  • 480p wmv works
  • flv doesn’t work

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So full HD is not possible, but 720p is fine. 1080p is ridiculous on a small screen anyway, but that should be okay. 720p is perfect so far and it looks amazingly good. MKV format isn’t even mentioned on the box, but it is on the website. I tried FLV, since it’s mentioned too on the official site, but I couldn’t get one working.

Now for some audio.

  • flac works
  • ogg works
  • mp3 works
  • wav works
  • wma works

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All audio formats that I have worked fine. Especially considering Flac and Ogg not a true standard in most media players, this is a plus.

This is the first mobile device that I’ve used that has Wireless N, and it’s a breeze to use it. I compare it to my previous Spica and Galaxy 5, and it’s like night and day. The Spica and Galaxy 5 has problems connecting outside 20 feet of the router’s range within our home, but for the Galaxy player, connecting up to 50 feet is still a breeze.

GPS also works amazingly well. It’s comparable to my old Spica, which seems to detects satellites as soon as you turn it on. The Galaxy 5 has been problematic to me since sometimes the GPS doesn’t start and I have to restart the device just to get it running. The GPS in the Galaxy Player is flawless, and I did get it working for Navdroyd perfectly. And I didn’t even have to restart the system.

Angry Birds is already installed in the system. Fifa12 and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit is immediately available for download. Although be prepared for a long wait because the downloads can be pretty big (more than 1gb). As I went to the Google Play website I noticed that the device is registered as Samsung YP-GI1. I also installed several games which I already purchased before for my old Samsung Spica and Galaxy 5 which are all transferrable to any device as long as you own it under one account. Performance is generally good and fast, but there are cases that it can have a few hiccups that it can be hard to play them. Example is like Sims FreePlay, which should work fine, but for some reason the house was colored all black, but you notice that there should be color because behind some objects, you kind of see the color of the walls of the house instead of it being just black. Although there are some major problems at times, like I installed the game Order & Chaos which Google Play indicated as it should work fine, but when I tried it in the Galaxy Player, the game indicated the device was not recognized.

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Testing out the camera, the front camera wasn’t really impressive. I presume it wasn’t meant to be. The camera at the back is 2 megapixels, but video capture is a bit weird. I didn’t change the settings of it, but for some reason, when I play it on the Galaxy player, it’s a little scrunched down. I presume it’s because it’s recording ay 640×480 and it’s not set to record at wide screen. I still like the option of having a panoramic shot where the camera software itself does the stitching, although it’s not much of an improvement over the Galaxy 5.

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If lighting wasn’t a problem the image quality is pretty good.

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This was taken at night with just a few light sources, but the image quality gets very grainy and fuzzy.

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Here is a sample of a panoramic shot stitched together by the camera program itself. Not Bad actually, but the image is a tad muddy.

I also tried browsing the net. The basic browser is fine, pages loaded up properly. We even tried Zynga, although most of the games didn’t work because of extensive flash graphics. Some pages automatically detected that I was using a mobile browser and switched to the proper page quick enough. But generally, most of it turned out well and flash support is good overall. I was able to watch videos that aren’t under YouTube without hassles.

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Battery can last around 6-8 hours, depending on what you are doing. Charging can take a while, especially if you are using it at the same time. Although I did notice that when I changed the basic TouchWiz launcher to Launcher Pro, it seems like Launcher Pro was using less power. So, I don’t think I’ll be using the basic TouchWiz for now.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the device considering I got it for half the price, but at PhP10,000, I really have to think twice if it’s a good purchase. It’s a great media player, but the games can chug when an intense one comes around and you don’t have an assurance it will work on your system too. If I consider the standard SRP price and based as a media player alone (movies and music), this is a very good device and it is better than an iPod Touch. But when I consider applications and games the iPod Touch is a clear winner because of a much assured reliability. When I consider the camera, the iPod Touch again is a clear winner, since it has a better resolution.

So, would I recommend it?

  • No, if you want to use a lot applications and games, and if you want a good camera.
  • Yes, if you are a fan of Android and various media formats and don’t really want the hassle to convert any of them.
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