Measuring nearly half an inch thick and backed with the kind of glossy white plastic used on the original Galaxy Tab 7, the Galaxy Player 5 lacks the kind of 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--an idea that makes sense considering the device was unveiled in January of 2011 during CES. For my money, the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet offers a superior design, not to mention a larger screen.
Well, what about audio purists? Given the Galaxy Player's emphasis on media playback, surely Samsung has put in extra effort 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 little washes of background hiss when you engage or pause the music player, or type with the onscreen keyboard. The volume also 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 5.0 is beneath you.
The Galaxy Player's big, bright screen offers excellent viewing angles and responds well to touch. But as big as the 5-inch screen may be, its resolution maxes out at 800x480 pixels. The pixel density is somewhat grainy compared with the more tightly packed 960x640-pixel resolution of an iPod Touch. 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, but still suffers from graininess.
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, or 3.2 megapixels. In either case, the results won't blow you away. Not to beat a dead horse, but the 720p camcorder quality on the iPod Touch runs rings around the Galaxy Player.
Battery and system performance
Samsung rates the Galaxy Player 5.0 at 8 hours of video playback and 60 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 5.0||11.1|
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 Samsung 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 5.0 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 Amazon Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet offer more media bang for your buck.