Like its grayscale predecessor, the 5.6-ounce Samsung YH-925GS packs everything into a slim but slightly long case. Its 1.8-inch, 160x128-pixel screen looks bright and colorful--great for viewing photos and navigating menus. The menus themselves remain a marvel of simplicity, as do the player's controls. Admittedly, the large four-way control pad lacks the panache of the iPod's scrollwheel, but it makes for extremely easy operation.
To make a voice recording, you just slide a switch on the side of the player and start talking, then flip the switch back when you're done. Regrettably, voice notes can be recorded only as 32Kbps stereo MP3 files, while line-in recordings--which also encode directly to MP3--are limited to 160Kbps. Support for higher bit rates would be welcome, and so would the charging cradle that came with the YH-920GS. All that's left is the proprietary Y-cable that splits between USB and AC connections--not great for travel.
The Samsung YH-925GS accommodates Windows users like few other players. It supports not only MP3, WMA, and DRM-protected WMA files but also Microsoft's PlaysForSure spec and Janus subscription services such as Napster To Go. The latter required a firmware update, but installation went quickly and smoothly.
Although Samsung dropped Napster from the product name, the YH-925GS relies on that service's eponymous software for music management; you can also drag and drop songs to the player, but if you don't install Samsung's driver first, they won't play. Napster is an attractive, full-featured program, and the integrated to-go service represents a decidedly tempting alternative to iTunes. For $14.95 per month, you can fill your player to the brim with songs from Napster's million-plus library; the YH-925GS will also work with the more affordable Yahoo Music Unlimited service.