Rimmed in chromed plastic and backed with the kind of glossy white plastic used on the original Galaxy Tab 7, the Galaxy Player 4.0 lacks the fit and finish found on Samsung's modern smartphones and tablets. It feels like a 2010 Samsung design that was slow to make it on to the market--which makes sense considering the device was unveiled in January 2011 during CES.
Well, what about audio purists? Given the Galaxy Player's emphasis on media playback, surely Samsung has taken extra pains to make it sound great, right? Nope.
I remember the era when Samsung's portable media players would routinely dominate CNET's roundups of best-sounding music players. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Player seems to be descended from the company's Android phone division and not its legacy of high-quality music players. The end result sounds fine by most standards, but careful listening will uncover the kind of background hiss we're accustomed to hearing from mobile phones. Also, the volume doesn't get very loud if you're looking to power a proper pair of over-ear headphones. These issues with volume level and hiss aren't a big deal for casual listening, especially if you're just using the included in-ear headphones. But if you're a stickler for audio quality who would usually turn up your nose at the cell phone music experience, the Galaxy Player 4.0 is beneath you.
The Galaxy Player's bright 4-inch screen offers excellent viewing angles and responds well to touch. Its resolution maxes out at 800x480 pixels, which is close to the more tightly packed 960x640-pixel resolution of an iPod Touch, but not quite there. On the plus side, the Galaxy Player handles a dizzying selection of video formats, including DivX, XVID, MPEG4, and WMV. Streaming video from Netflix and YouTube works well.
In terms of video-recording quality, the rear camera is capable of capturing footage at a standard-definition 720x480-pixel resolution. Still-photo resolution goes up to 2,048x1,536 pixels, or 3.2 megapixels. In either case, the results won't blow you away. Not to beat a dead horse, but the 720p camcorder on the iPod Touch runs rings around the Galaxy Player.
Battery and system performance
Samsung rates the Galaxy Player 4.0 at 5 hours of video playback and 36 hours of audio playback. Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.
|Video battery life (in hours)|
|Samsung Galaxy 4.0||5.5|
In terms of system performance, Samsung is using a single-core 1GHz processor to get the job done, which isn't quite up to the standards Samsung has set with its dual-core smartphones. It works, though, and feels very much like a shrunken version of 2010's Galaxy Tab 7.
Onboard storage is listed as 8GB, but the storage available to the user is closer to 5GB. Expect to invest in a microSD card if you want to load up a substantial music and video collection.
The Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0 is a tough sell. If you're looking for a fun, pocketable, kid-friendly media player with a glut of games and apps, the $199 iPod Touch is a slam dunk. If you have an axe to grind with Apple, 7-inch tablets like the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet offer more media bang for your buck.
Editors' note: This review was updated with CNET Labs' battery life test results.