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Needless to say, you won't hear the full potential through the supplied earbuds. They're not awful, but you won't be able to wring a solid low end or maximum detail from them. Hook up some half-decent canalphones, however, and you're laughing, the YP-P3 dishing out a rich sound with a tight, well-defined bass and sparkling clarity at the top, producing great results in tracks ranging from Kings of Leon's Closer to Massive Attack's Inertia Creeps to the more relaxed tones of the Sinatra/Carlos Jobim take on The Girl from Ipanema.
What's more, there's a lot of power on offer here. The YP-P3 is noticeably louder at the same volume setting than the YP-Q1, and it easily has enough power to drive a pair of Sennheiser HD485s or Grado SR-60s at a decent volume without cranking the levels up to max and compressing the sound.
Through full-ear cans the output is nothing shy of awesome. Justin Timberlake's What Goes Around... reveals all the production details that come together to make a great pop track, and my collection of Wagner in FLAC has rarely sounded so good. Interestingly, while the UK specification only mentions MP3, AAC and WMA playback, the sample YP-P3 was perfectly happy playing FLAC and OGG files, making this a more flexible player than the Sony competition. Just ignore Windows' moans when you drag them over.
As with previous Samsung players, the output is also very, very configurable. Samsung DNSe processing once again comes into play, with a range of preset EQ settings aimed at different genres, and it's joined by a street mode, an audio upscaler and a slightly odd 'VibeWoofer' function which makes the YP-P3 pulsate in time with the bass beats. I spent most of my time with DNSe and the upscaler switched off, but I did notice some positive effects with DNSe switched to auto and the upscaler kicked in, particularly with the medium-quality, 256K MP3s that Amazon keeps flogging on the cheap these days.
Battery life is respectable for audio, less so for video. Expect 30 hours of music playback from a single charge but only five hours of video, and even less if you mess around with Bluetooth and the VibeWoofer. I got around nineteen hours of mixed use (with the player left running music overnight), which is fine unless you like watching movies on a long-distance commute.
So, enough with the praise, do we have a new must-have player on our hands? Well, a lot depends on what you're comparing the YP-P3 to. Despite its widgets and Bluetooth support, it's still not a true rival to the iPod touch. Apple's GUI remains the best in the business, and features like email, the excellent web browser and the App Store still put Jobs and co.'s player in a slightly different sector of the market. But then, it's priced accordingly, and don't forget that a good £40 to £50 separates the 8GB touch from the 8GB Samsung.
On the other hand, price also works against Samsung's little wonder. The YP-P3 does more than the Sony NWZ-S639F, offers better format support and sounds comparable, but then you can pick up the 16GB Sony with its superior bundled earphones for less than the 8GB Samsung (which costs another £50 for a 16GB variant).
All this is quite true, but overall I think the YP-P3 successfully finds a nice niche of its own between these two greats, offering a bit of the iPod touch flash and a wider range of features than the Sony, but with better sound quality than the Apple product. It's also cheaper and a little easier to use than the similar Cowon S9. In other words, if you merely want great music and great value, buy Sony, but if you're looking for a little more pizazz, the YP-P3 is well worth stumping up for.
Samsung's touchscreen beauty lacks many iPod touch features and can't match the S-series Walkmans for value or sound quality. But as a slick, pocket-sized player for audio, video and stills, it takes some beating. Samsung's best PMP yet!
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality