BARCELONA, Spain--Samsung had more than one card up its sleeve at Mobile World Congress 2011. After announcing the Samsung Galaxy II and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the company introduced two Android-based portable media players: the Samsung Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.0 and the Samsung Galaxy S Wi-Fi 5.0.
Essentially, the devices are like the Samsung Galaxy S phones, just without the cellular phone capabilities. The main difference between the two models is screen size. The Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.0 has a 4-inch WVGA Super LCD display, whereas the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 5.0 has a, you guessed it, 5-inch touch screen. The latter is a TFT LCD, however.
Both devices are running Android 2.2 (upgradable to Android 2.3) and offer access to Android Market, which now has a catalog of more than 230,000 apps. They also use Samsung's 1GHz Hummingbird processor and come with a rear-facing 3.2-megapixel camera and a front-facing VGA camera with support for VoIP video calls over a Wi-Fi connection. The handhelds will actually be preloaded with Skype and Qik Plus.
In the multimedia department, the PMPs support a good range of music and video codecs, including MP3, AAC, WMA9, OGG, Flac, MPEG4, H.264, DivX, XviD, and WMV. The Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.0 will come in three capacities--8GB, 16GB, and 32GB--and the Galaxy S 5.0 will come in 16GB or 32GB models.
I stopped by the Samsung booth to check out the devices and was generally impressed with them. The overall design of the PMPs are very similar to the Galaxy S phones. They're extremely thin and light, but also feel slick and plasticky.
Videos played back beautifully on both screens, and the handhelds felt very responsive. Of course, it's hard to make any kind of judgment on the gadgets after just a few minutes, but it looks promising as an iPod Touch competitor, especially for Android lovers.
The Samsung Galaxy S Wi-Fi portables will be available in the U.K. during the first half of 2011, but a Samsung representative told me that they're expected to be available in the U.S. later this year.