On the plus side, the battery life is considerably better than the original nano at 30 hours, although the new nano isn’t too far behind at 24 hours. That said, the 30 hours quote is based on listening to MP3s encoded at 128Kbit/sec, and anyone who encodes their music at anything less than 192Kbit/sec really should be ashamed of themselves. And if you want to listen through the speaker, you’re going to get about six hours play time.
When it comes to price, the 1GB version that I’ve got here will set you back a substantial £92.83, especially when you consider that the 2GB iPod nano will cost you £99, with the 2GB Sansa costing around the same. Better value is the 4GB K5, which will set you back £150.96, although for an extra £20 you can pick up the 8GB nano, while an extra £9 will get you a 6GB Sansa. Obviously neither the Apple or SanDisk products have the built in speaker, but with these prices, you’ve really got to want that speaker.
And that’s the whole point with the K5, you’re really going to have to want an integrated speaker to be tempted. It’s not the price that puts me off, it’s the size and weight – to be honest, if I wanted an integrated speaker enough to consider the K5, I’m not sure I’d want to carry it around with me every day as my regular player. Ultimately, I can slip my nano into my pocket and not even feel that it’s there, and even my Sansa doesn’t make a big dent in my pocket, but with the K5, you know it’s there every minute that it’s in your pocket.
The K5 also lacks the slick navigation system of Apple’s baby, while the similarly equipped Sansa is also a breeze to use. Scrolling through a long list of artists or songs on the K5 is an arduous task, while on an iPod it’s simple and very, very quick. In fact the whole usability side of the K5 is a bit clumsy by comparison.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Samsung over the past few years, it’s that this is a company that will work at something until it gets it right and starts producing superb, desirable products. So I’m in no doubt that Samsung will be a force to be reckoned with in the digital music arena. I have no doubt that one day Samsung will produce a player that is worthy of accolades and will challenge Apple at its own game. But I also have no doubt that the K5 isn’t that player.
Samsung has created a very innovative product with the YP-K5. I can’t deny that the design is clever and the integrated speaker produces sound of a higher quality than I expected. With the K5 Samsung has produced a player that has a feature that no other device on the market has. But ultimately you have to ask yourself whether you’re willing to accept a larger, heavier and more expensive MP3 player, just so you can listen to it through a speaker once in a while – for me, I’m afraid the answer is no.