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MP3 players are fast becoming commodity items. With its recent price drops, even Apple’s players don’t command a significant premium over the competition – a fact that makes life very hard for non-Apple branded products. Rightly or wrongly, given the choice, most consumers will go for an iPod if it’s not going to cost them any more than a similar device from another manufacturer.
Samsung is well aware of this situation and has decided to compete with the dominance of Apple by innovating. The YP-K5 is the result of many design concepts and focus groups, with the goal being a truly innovative digital music player that could not only compete with the iPod but better it.
The K5 looks pretty sleek, with what appears to be an all black fascia when it’s not turned on. Once you feed it some juice though a bright OLED screen bursts into life and you notice a full array of touch sensitive buttons. Control is handled by four arrow buttons, with an OK type button at the centre – pretty standard fare. You also get a menu button and two back buttons – more on that later. I’m not the biggest fan of touch sensitive buttons, but I can’t complain too much about the controls on the K5. You definitely need to flick the “hold” switch when you put the device in your pocket though, unless you want the volume randomly increasing or the track jumping.
On the top edge of the K5 is a sliding power switch that toggles the device on and off. Push this the other way and it acts as the hold switch. At the other end you’ll find a standard 3.5mm mini-jack and the charging/synching connector. It’s a shame that Samsung hasn’t gone for a standard mini-USB connector, but then neither does Apple. There’s no mains charger in the box, but the K5 will obviously charge over USB while it’s connected to your computer.
The headphones that Samsung bundles with the K5 are definitely a cut above the norm. They’re described as bass boosting headphones, and they go some way to living up to that moniker. Rather than standard ear buds, these headphones do insert slightly into your ear canal, but not completely like the Ultimate Ears or Shure headphones that I’ve reviewed lately. Unfortunately the Samsung headphones are not the most comfortable I’ve ever used, and even though they’re better than most bundled items, I’d still recommend spending some cash on a decent set.