Right now, there's no doubt what the coolest gadgets of the moment are in the minds of the digital music-buying public. It's the latest touchscreen-driven devices from Apple. No matter what your preferences or which technological axe you may have to grind, you can't possibly deny that both the iPhone and iPod Touch are amazing examples of what can be done with a simple concept and great software and hardware design.
The big problem is that to get your hands on one of these you have to fork out quite a bit of cash. We all know how expensive an iPhone is - even before you get to the price of the obligatory contract - and those who don't want the phone still have to pay through the nose for the Touch.
But there is another way to get your hands on a sexy, touchscreen music player, and it's called the Samsung YP-P2. It's clear from the start that this is trying awfully hard to match the iPod Touch. It has a hard touchscreen with very little else in the way of controls on the front panel. It even looks the same, though the small circular element on the short edge of the screen turns out to be merely a status light, not a home button as it is on the Touch.
A closer look, however, reveals this isn't a straight rip-off after all, and in many ways it's the more practical music player. For starters, it's much smaller and more pocketable than the Touch. At 100 x 52 x 9.9mm and 85g it's not going to get into the teeny-tiny hall of fame any time soon, but it's a darned sight more svelte than the Apple device and it's put together just as well too. Though the screen attracts greasy fingerprints like a dirt magnet, it seems highly scratch resistant, and the rest of the device is extremely solid.
It has dedicated hardware controls for common functions, which is something the Touch lacks: volume controls are sited on the right spine, while the power button and hold switch are on the right, which just add to the usability of the player and mean the volume can be adjusted whether you're in menu or music view. And another feature missing from the Touch that you get here is an FM tuner. Strangely, though, there's no voice record mode despite the presence of an external microphone.