Assuming that you do invest in a decent set of headphones, you’ll be treated to some pretty good sound quality from the K5. I tested it using a set of Ultimate Ears super.fi Pro dual-driver headphones and the K5 gave a decent account of itself. I kicked off with Glory Box by Portishead, with its combination of haunting vocals and heavy beats – the result was a clean sound where the subtle tones were not overpowered by the heavy bass. Changing tack completely I fired up Cochise by Audioslave and despite the overdriven guitars I could clearly pick out every syllable of Chris Cornell’s vocals. The K5 definitely sounds slightly better than my 4th generation iPod, although still not quite up to the standard of a Sony player such as the NW-A1000.
The K5 supports MP3 and WMA codecs up to a maximum bit rate of 320Kbit/sec and 192Kbit/sec respectively. Unfortunately the K5 doesn’t support OGG Vorbis, which produces better sound quality than both MP3 and WMA, even though previous Samsung players that we’ve looked at did support OGG. Samsung informed me that OGG support may be included in a firmware update, but if that’s true, I don’t see why it’s not there now.
The K5 also has a built-in FM tuner, which works surprisingly well, even in the poor reception area of the TrustedReviews office. You can also view photos in JPEG format – they look surprisingly good on the OLED display too. Conspicuous by its absence is any form of movie playback, but to be honest I wouldn’t ever want to watch video on a screen this small.
Talking of the screen, when you’re indoors it’s incredibly easy to see, but if you’re out in bright sunlight, it can be almost impossible to make anything out. Obviously LCD screens can also suffer in bright sunlight, but not to the level of this OLED example.
But as I said at the beginning of this review, the K5 is all about innovation and that comes to light when you slide the front fascia of the device sideways and reveal an integrated stereo speaker. The sliding mechanism feels very similar to the system employed by the Samsung mobile phones – it slides smoothly and then tilts upwards, allowing the K5 to balance in a landscape orientation. Once you’ve opened the K5 up the screen also switches orientation, while the controls also switch – this is also where the second back button comes into play, although I’m still not convinced that it would have been hard to use just the one.