The Samsung Galaxy 5 player is probably exactly what you think it is: a big-ass Galaxy S phone without the “phone part”. That is, it doesn’t have a 3G radio for voice and data, instead relying on Wifi to connect to the Internet. If you are like me, however, you spend 90+ percent of your day around Wifi and during that 90% of the time, it is as good as any 3G or 4G mobile device – the reviewers agree.
As you’d expect, the screen is huge, especially compared to typical phones. I have a white one and it looks like a comically large white iPhone 3G from afar. The screen also has the standard Samsung 480×800 pixel count, though with the larger screen the fonts aren’t as crisp as a 4-incher. Having gotten my hands on the Samsung Galaxy Note and Galaxy Nexus, I can tell you that this screen isn’t even close to as crisp. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful, especially for playing Netflix or Youtube content.
This is generally the first Android device that goes up against Apple’s iPod Touch franchise and I believe it does have some compelling differentiators, besides the much larger, but not “Retina crisp” display. I’ll break these down below:
- The 3MP backside Camera is actually good for taking pictures. If you’ve tried to take a picture with the iPod Touch’s backside camera, you know it is barely passable. Samsung’s on the other hand takes decent pictures – think iPhone 3GS-type quality. It also has a Flash for those times you are in the dark and want to cast a flashlight type shadow on your subject.
- Removable Storage: The Galaxy Player has a Micro SD card slot that instantly bumps your Player capacity up to 40GB with $40 worth of card. With an iPod, that costs $100. It’s also nice for quickly moving storage around.
- Sound: The Galaxy Player stereo speakers blows away the iPod touch mono. To make matters better/worse, Samsung includes a very nice pair of in-ear headphones with the Player, while Apple’s White earbuds are…what they are.
- FM Radio: The Galaxy Player has an FM Radio which is nice when you run out of Wifi. FM Radio is also helpful if there is an emergency but it only annoyingly works with headphones in.
- GPS: If you are navigating off of a 3G hotspot or some cached maps, you’ll get a way better location than with just Wifi triangulation.
- Google Voice plus Skype (or other VoIP app) turns this into a great phone. Samsung left the mic and sfrom speaker in the right spots so it makes a fantastic, if not a little large, phone.
- Price. Street Price of $199 and $239 for the 4 inch screen and 5 inch screen Player varieties respectively compare well to Apple’s iPods. When considering bumping up to larger capacities is just a MicroSD card away, it is that much more compelling an offer.
Video chatting works great with Skype but strangely doesn’t with Google Talk even though it runs Android 2.3.5.
Netflix works well, but for some reason Hulu Plus isn’t available on this device (even though it works on the corresponding Galaxy S phones). The Tab is thicker than an iPod touch but is still svelt and durable. The battery lasts every bit as long, even with that huge screen
Most other Android Apps work just as well as they do on a normal Galaxy S phone, which is to say well. Samsung has included the Touchwiz 3 interface which I’m not a fan of and will slow down updates. I’d love to see Ice Cream Sandwich on this but I’m not going to get my hopes up.
Here are a few reasons you might want a Galaxy Player:
- For some reason you don’t have an Android phone but you want to use the Android OS for media.
- You want to get your kid an Android device without getting a phone plan
- You can’t afford a phone plan but you want a portable Internet device
- You want an extra Netflix/Youtube/Gmail/web browser for the bedroom/bathroom/cabin/office
Wrapup: This is the Android iPod touch and just as the iPod touch is a compelling alternative to the iPhone, the Galaxy Player is, in the same way, and alternative to an Android phone. Amazon has them for $199 for the 4-inch and $239 for the 5-inch.