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I've got a lot of time for Samsung's underrated YP-Q1 PMP. It might not have the style of the iPod nano or the awesome sound quality of Sony's NWZ-S639F - and it also features some of the worst touch-sensitive controls known to man - but it's a great sounding, decent looking player with a solid UI and better audio file format support than the Sony or Apple competition. Best of all, it's relatively inexpensive, making it a decent PMP for anyone who can't quite stretch to a Walkman or an iPod. Now Samsung brings us a sequel which - finally, and a lot later than I originally hoped - I've managed to get my hands on. Could we have a winner on our hands this time around?
Well, first impressions are definitely good. The YP-Q1 had a slick, elegant design, but the YP-Q2 is even better. At 49mm x 101mm x 10mm it's very slightly larger than the Q1, but also slightly slimmer and lighter. The diamond shape that used to show the limits of the touch-sensitive D-pad has gone, leaving the player stripped back to the 2.4in screen, a metallic surround around the face of the unit and decals for the ‘back' and ‘options' menu and the Samsung logo.
The rear now has a tough, textured, gloss finish and the unit as a whole feels more rugged than the Q1, though still not quite as robust as the aluminium nano or the practically bulletproof Sony NWZ S and X-series Walkmans. Otherwise, the main physical changes are the swapping of the old power/lock slider for a dual-function power/lock button and a user-definable key which you can assign different functions depending on the current mode the player is in. Annoyingly, Samsung has stuck to its proprietary USB connector, but otherwise all seems to be ship shape.
Admittedly, I was a bit concerned to see the Q1's touch sensitive controls return; it's always better to have a simple, button-based control system that actually works over a flashy alternative that doesn't. However, this time the controls are a lot less over-sensitive, and a lot more predictable. Cool blue LED indicators behind the panel show clearly where you can find the cursor and select keys, and the smaller areas used actually make the YP-Q2 easier than its predecessor to use, rather than harder. Couple this with an interface that's essentially a more colourful refinement on the perfectly logical one found on the YP-Q1, and you have a player that's practically a pleasure to find your way around.
Navigation by ID3 tag is simple and pain-free, and there are useful options like the ability to set intervals between tracks or create playlists on the fly. The UI also has a few stylish touches, like near full-screen album art and a range of groovy visualizations in the Now Playing view, not to mention the ability to use the touch-sensitive controls to sweep left to right through tracks in the same album or albums by the same artist. In this arena, at least, Samsung is comfortably ahead of most Far-Eastern rivals.