Editors' note: The Samsung P2 underwent an extensive update via the release of several complementing pieces of firmware known as Blue Wave. The player was reevaluated once all the updates became available and the editors' rating was updated accordingly. Other than the pricing information, the text of this review has not been changed due to the large number of updates and additions. All P2s purchased on or after September 14, 2008, will have all the Blue Wave firmware updates preloaded. Find out more about the Samsung P2.
There's no denying that the Apple iPod Touch has the cool design appeal down to a tee, but not everyone wants to pay a premium for Internet connectivity on their MP3 players/PVPs. Some may instead prefer to cut the cord between their player and headphones, and for those users, there's the Samsung YP-P2, a touch-screen device with a sweet interface and stereo Bluetooth capability. And there's more good news: the P2, which is available in black, white, and red versions with 4GB ($149) or 8GB ($179) of flash memory, sounds great. This player ain't cheap, but audio enthusiasts will be satisfied.
Although it's noticeably smaller at 3.8 inches by 2.0 inches by 0.4 inch, the Samsung P2 resembles the iPod Touch more than any other MP3 player. Like the Touch, the P2 offers virtually no tactile controls, instead relying on its face-dominating (3-inch) touch screen for interface navigation. The similarities basically end there--the player's interface is decidedly less Mac-like than that of its iPod counterpart, but we daresay this is a good thing. Back to that momentarily. Rounding out the physical characteristics of the P2 are a mic hole, proprietary dock, and headphone jack lining its bottom edge; dedicated volume controls along the right spine; and a play/pause/power button and hold switch on the left side. There's also a multicolored, circular LED below the screen on the front that we originally thought might function as a home key; however, it is merely a visual status indicator.
So back to that interface: It's awesome. In the Samsung P2's settings, you can select from three fonts and three menu types. Our favorite is Cosmos, where the selections sit in different depths of field (as if in space) and as you swipe your finger up or down, the selections orbit into view. You may select any visible option on the screen, even if it appears "farther away" on the screen. There's also a My Skin setting: set any image as wallpaper and the menu selections appear as small icons across the bottom. Here, you swipe your finger left or right to move through options. Finally, there's the rather standard Matrix interface, which displays the icons in a grid--our least favorite because there's no swiping involved, and we think the finger dragging is what makes a touch screen fun.
The main menu is a good place to start delving into the features of the Samsung P2. Function numero uno is--of course--music, and the P2 knows what it's doing in this regard. Step into the Music option and files are organized by artist, album, genre and so on; or if you prefer, there's even a file browser. Once a selection is made, you're taken to a detailed playback screen, lined at the very bottom with onscreen back, contextual menu, and sound effect buttons. Just above these are play/pause and track shuttle selectors, and then a time elapsed/remaining bar (swipe your finger left or right along this to jog through the song). The very top of the display shows the time and battery meter, and the track name is always present a bit below that. The majority of the screen is dedicated to one of several available visual settings, which can be shuttled through by tapping the screen. Choose to display full track info, large album art, or one of four moving visualizations (a la G-Force), including a graphic equalizer.