Samsung can safely be described as a leader in the Android smartphone space, with its Galaxy-based line-up - the flagship of which is the Android 2.3-running Nexus S - going great guns. As such, the Galaxy Player 50 isn’t that surprising a release. It was only ever a matter of time before Samsung followed Apple’s lead in taking a smartphone OS and paring it down to fit on a media player. We’re mostly surprised it’s taken this long.
Worryingly for Samsung specifically, and those interested in Android media players in general, we think Samsung should have waited even longer to release the Galaxy Player 50. It’s not exactly a terrible product; it has the potential to be a half, if not very, decent portable media player. No, the problem is that the Galaxy Player 50 in its current state is nigh-unusable. Arguably we’d have been less frustrated if there wasn’t so much potential – at least it wouldn’t be failing to live up to it so badly.
The physical design of the Galaxy Player 50 is its first pitfall. Although pitched cheaper, at about £150 – close to £40 less than the 8GB iPod touch – its plastic construction feels much cheaper. A silver accent around the edge of both the player and the home button add a touch of classiness, but the overall look isn’t exciting, especially compared to the YP-R1 – Samsung’s last touchscreen player.
Similarly disappointing and on a less purely aesthetic level is the Galaxy Player 50’s display. At 3.2in diagonally, it’s not especially large and the resolution of 320 x 240 pixels is poor, rendering text and images with a complete lack of sharpness. It’s not much use being bright and offering vivid colours when the screen is this cramped.
Although capacitive, the touch-sensitive display proved touch-insensitive with frustrating frequency, fairing worse than many resistive screens. The problems seem to be software, not hardware, based, as the unresponsiveness only kicks in when using applications. Why isn’t really important though, it’s a massive problem for the Galaxy Player 50 to the extent that it becomes literally unusable at times. And that's only after the four minutes or so it takes to turn on!
Enjoying a small victory where possible, adding media on a MicroSD works, the Galaxy Player 50 scanning for files it can play and adding them to its media library. We'd have preferred the card slot to be accessible without needing to remove the case at the back of the player, but it's not a massive inconvenience. If you end up using Samsung's Kies utility, however, you'll learn how far from convenient an aspect of the Galaxy Player 50 can be.