Samsung YP-Z5 MP3 player
Can it size up to Apple's iPod Nano?
A final press of the Back button slides the main menu off the bottom of the screen, leaving a simple status readout of the date, battery-charge level and the name of the song currently being played. Pressing Back - counterintuitively - brings the menu back. Pressing select causes even the status display to vanish until you press the Back button.
Hiding the menu presents the screen's wallpaper graphic in all its glory. Fine, but since you can't change it, what's the benefit? It's a doubly-odd omission when the pre-loaded pics come in a folder called Wallpaper...
Still, photos look good on the screen, and repeated pressings of the centre of the touchpad zoom in, up to 4x. Touching the touchpad and dragging your thumb around moves the image, but again I found the results erratic and slow. The Z5's screen size makes picture viewing a more enjoyable experience than it is on the Nano, but who're either company kidding? Apart from a handful of shots of kids/partners/pr0n, what's the point of having photo albums on screens this small, especially when there's no TV-out port?
Fortunately, the Z5 provides a great music playback experience. The sound's beefy, with a solid bass, though I found the treble a little weak for my taste. Adjustments can be made using the eight EQ pre-sets or the three DNSe settings, which are supposed to render a more '3D' sound for a club feel. If you want your music to sound like you're listening from the bogs, fine, but I don't.
The Z5 operates with Windows Media Player 10 and its DRM system, so it's ready to play songs bought from Plays for Sure music services like Napster, HMV and Virgin Digital. It'll play MP3 tracks too, and while the box suggests the player's a Windows-only gadget, it mounted on a Mac as a USB Mass Storage device, and I could drag and drop tracks into its Music folder without difficulty. The player scans the folder whenever you browse for music, and listed all the songs I copied over.
The 2GB version I tested has no voice record facility or FM radio, though these are part of the Z5 specs in some countries.
I performed Reg Hardware's customary battery life test: copy across a heap of 128Kbps MP3 songs, set the player to continuous playback, and press the play button. At the time of writing, the Z5's been running for almost 22 hours and the battery indicator's at around 75 per cent. On that basis, I've no doubt it'll run for the remaining 13 hours of the 35-hour duration Samsung claims - and probably more.
Samsung's YP-Z5 is a decent MP3 player that's let down by the need the company feels to match Apple's formula as closely as possible. The Z5 has a good-looking screen and a stylish UI. It plays music well. The battery life is very impressive. The Z5's design is inoffensive but its attempt to offer a worthy alternative to the iPod's clickwheel was a deal-breaker for me: it's slow, fiddly, and too often counter-intuitive and confusing.
The Samsung YP-Z5 was kindly supplied by Advanced MP3 Players.