Samsung YP-K3 digital audio player
Nice curves, but does it have anything worthwhile inside the casing?
Review "Refined, Stylish, Classy, Sleek" - are all words that have gone to describe Samsung's latest offering to the digital audio player world... mostly by the Seoul-based manufacturer. So, after all that hype is there anything besides aesthetics to drive sales of the Samsung K3 in this Apple iPod dominated market? Read on...
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is often the launching ground for the latest and greatest gadgets. This year was no exception; what stood out was the number of devices with touch-sensitive displays, from the new iPod phone to the LG Chocolate range. And not a manufacturer to capitalise on such trends, Samsung launched its flashy K3 flash-based DAP with touch-sensitive controls. Born from its K5 player released in September 2006, the K3 is similar in both appearance and the navigation menu used. The K3 is just under a millimetre thicker than the latest iPod Nano, weighing in at 10g heavier and is much easier on the eyes. The screen is identical that found on the K5: a sharp, 1.8in full colour OLED display.
The K3 offers three forms of entertainment: a digital music player, an FM radio and an image viewer. All of which are accessible through its elegant interface and via the touch-sensitive LED back-lit panel. Gliding from menu to menu, option to option is very graceful with snazzy effects all shown off on its crisp display. Clearly a lot has gone into the K3 OS to make it very attractive and appealing, moving on from their Z5, which it's set to replace in the UK.
On the DAP front it currently addresses the most common formats, WMA, MP3 and ASF. What's missing is the OGG format, which is found in other Samsung offerings. Nowadays getting away with the very basic in audio codec's isn't going to cut it anymore in an environment where competitors offer a larger range of better sounding formats. Making up for this in someway are the five predefined EQ settings that accompany audio playback, with two standing out – Bass Boost and DNSe 3D sound. These created a really good sound, and in fact even the standard audio output is nothing to be sniffed at. A customisable EQ setting isn't a feature of the K3 and not really a necessity as the sound effects that accompany it are good enough.
Samsung has added a 'text' function to the K3, in order to now see the music files name as they're being played. This wasn't available on the K5 and a rather fundamental requirement. As we're on the subject of additions, they've taken away the alarm functionality that appeared on the K5 OS and not included it as a menu task on the K3, not a major loss, but worth noting. An attractive extra would be the ability to show album art as this feature appears on most of its contemporaries, such as the iPod Nano and SanDisk Sansa e200 series.
The FM radio is easy to setup and use. We tried the player out in a large open space and in a rather built up area where interference would be rife, the sound came through clearly. Sadly taking the EQ sound effects from the DAP through to the radio isn’t a feature – a shame really, as this would add to the listening pleasure. Also lacking is displaying of the station names, not an overall detract in the abilities of the K3, but still somewhat a miss.
Viewing images on the K3 shows how sharp the OLED screen really is, as the quality is very clear and extremely well-defined; JPEG's though are the only format shown as nothing else is supported. There is software accompanying the unit, namely The Samsung Media Studio that can convert other image formats to JPEG for viewing on the K3. This software can be used for music file transfer to and creating their playlist's. Files can also be dragged and dropped from Windows Explorer as the Media Transfer Protocol is used. Presently the K3 is solely Microsoft Windows compatible, leaving Apple and Linux users out in the cold. A lack of support for iTunes could be a that Samsung don't want to play nicely with the other children, although most other music services, such as Rhapsody are supported.
Many other DAP devices with FM ability within the same price range feature video playback, take the SanDisk Sansa e200 range for example, and now with some jiggery-pokery even the latest iPod nano can too. To compete in pound-to-pound verses function-to-function, it looks like this is a must in today's MP3 player. However, it does have very good sound quality, good looksk and a 25-hour battery life all in its favour. Perhaps the lack of video can be over looked in this instance.