I am an Apple devotee, through and through, so much so that I have not even bothered to look elsewhere to satisfy my tech-junkie needs—and yes, that means I have never played with an Android device in my entire life.
Enter the Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6. This Gingerbread-powered media player landed in my lap earlier this week and taunted something more. Unfortunately, due to my inexperience with Android devices, I am left to compare this offering to the next best thing in my mind: the fourth-generation iPod Touch. This should not be a problem, however, as both devices compete in the same product category.
Galaxy Players 4.0 and 5.0 released in 2011 for $229 and $269, respectively, and this week the South Korean-based firm added to the PMP lineup with its Galaxy Player 3.6 for about $100 less at $150. The price is definitely more attractive, but are users just getting what they paid for? Read more to find out.
A gallery of images is below.
Hardware + Specs
Samsung’s 3.6-inch Galaxy Player is strikingly like the iPhone 3G (O.K., you got me, I am making another iOS device comparison), and just holding it shot me three years back.
It offers practically the same screen and chassis dimensions as the third-generation iPhone, a flash-less front-facing camera, as well as a shiny black front border that circles the screen with a glossy metallic perimeter edging the sides. Although the media player looks similar to the iPhone 3G, it is thinner at just .38-inches, while still landing thicker than the iPod Touch by .10-inches.
The back of the device is a matte charcoal and equipped with a 2-megapixel camera, but the shooter surprisingly lacks a flash. On the upside, there is a microSD slot hidden behind the back cover, including a 1500mAh removable battery. The rear’s inside also boasts a 1GHz cortex A8 processor and 8GB of storage.
The power and volume buttons are located along the upper right corner of the Galaxy Player’s margin, and they are much too close together. I frequently put the screen to sleep whenever I actually intend to throttle the volume.
The standard microUSB port and 3.5mm headphone jack sit at the bottom of the device, and a two-slot speaker is found on the bottom right of the back panel, which is inconveniently in the way of finger placement. The Galaxy Player also comes equipped with a pair of ear buds. However, they are mediocre—at best.
At first glance, this latest Galaxy Player looks sleek and new, but its charm noticeably fades after holding the device for more than 5 seconds, especially without the battery inside.
It feels incredibly light whether it is packing a power source, all the while bearing a slightly flimsy feel. The front feels smooth and sturdy, but the back screams plastic and budgeted. Those wanting a quality, well-built, solid, and resolute media player will surely find disappointment in this iPod Touch alternative.
This device is seriously lacking in the display department. It quotes a 480 x 320 TFT display at 3.65 inches, but its brightness is extra dim, and viewing the screen at any angle other than face-value projects a rainbow-like surface glare akin to plasma screens. I half-expected to see a plasma ripple appear upon touching the screen for the first time.
In other words, the screen sucks. The pixel density is obviously lower than the first-generation iPod Touch, and simple aspects like icons and the Web browser look as though I beamed back to 1998. Heck, I even expected this screen to turn monochrome at any minute.
I hate to bring Apple into this review repeatedly, but I have to say, in a day-and-age when high-quality displays (cough RETINA cough) are surfacing in many valuable devices, there is absolutely no excuse for such a poor quality screen.
The Samsung Galaxy Player’s camera nears the quality of a mid-2000s’ Webcam. The front-facing VGA camera might as well give up when attempting to capture anything that does not sit perfectly still, and the 2-megapixel rear-facing camera is just as astonishingly bad.
While the colors are decent, motion capture is a complete time-suck, and the inability to touch and focus is mind-bendingly annoying. Sure, there are a select few scene modes, including panorama, but they seem to only accentuate this camera’s constant blur.
In other words, the Galaxy Player 3.6 is definitely not targeted to the surge of handheld camera-loving photographers of the world. It is rather suited for 14-year-old girls looking for an inexpensive camera/media player primarily meant to snap daily Facebook-esque profile pictures.
The Galaxy Player sports Android 2.3.6, also known as the Gingerbread operating system, which debuted last fall. Samsung is pushing 4.0 to its gallery of smart phones and tablets, but this player is stuck on the OS that is now-nearing two versions’ past. As the Galaxy S III release looms closer, this device is really the only Samsung product that can get away with debuting on Gingerbread.
Unknown to the lures and promises of current, present, and upcoming Android OS versions, this flavor is really my only experience with the Google platform. With that said, I am hardly impressed. Scrolling and zooming is almost a painful process, and websites not optimized for mobile made me want to pull my hair out—no joke. I am balding as I type. Oh, and the keyboard is a no-go in portrait mode.
It is worth mentioning Samsung’s TouchWiz is shrink-wrapped over Gingerbread. Obviously, I cannot comment too much on the effectiveness of the skin, nor even differentiate it from the sluggish 2.3.6., but I will add that this device unboxes with Angry Birds, Text Plus, and QuickOffice preloaded. So, that is a plus.
Before ending this section, I need to reiterate how awful icons and the Internet browser looked. Instagram’s preloading circle looked as though it sprouted hairs while spinning due to heavy pixelation, icons screamed Windows 95, and the browser’s top “X” button looked like a grey-colored DOS parody.
This media player does what it brags and supports DivX, WMV, WMA, AAC, MPEG4, H.264, MP3, Ogg, and FLAC. The handy expandable storage is perfect for those files that can sometimes be too large.
Obviously, this device is not a phone, but it can pair with Bluetooth to a smartphone to act as a receiver. However, the battery is probably the most impressive aspect of the device. I have toted the player for a few days now, but I have not had to charge it at all. Samsung claimed the Galaxy Player flaunts 40 hours of audio and approximately 5 hours of video playing time, and I am certainly not calling bluff on that spec.
The take away for this review is that the Galaxy Player 3.6 is not an adequate iPod Touch alternative for Android geeks, and —in my opinion— it does not have a strong enough niche to even make a dent in the market for Samsung, especially considering its lackluster quality. In fact, this media player would not even be fit for video if it were not for the advanced file support and extendable storage.
The Samsung Galaxy line represents a wide-variety of offerings, but this Galaxy Player will only snag the low-end market. The price group, specs, and performance of this device only make it worthy of a carefree preteen happy to flaunt any touchscreen device…or it is meant for that ole’ office drawer already brimming with outdated BlackBerrys.
Yes, I am an Apple buff not impressed with the Android-based Galaxy Player 3.6-inch media player by Samsung—big surprise. Nevertheless, I am not exaggerating. Check out the images below to verify my claims: Save your money and splurge on one of the many other Android media players available (or the iPod Touch for $199, if you dare).
For those still interested: The Galaxy Player 3.6 is available now for $149.99 exclusively at Best Buy.
- Samsung announces 3.6-inch and 4.2-inch Galaxy Player (9to5google.com)
- Samsung unveils another iPod touch competitor, the 4.2-inch Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 media player (9to5google.com)