Samsung's designer credentials have gone from almost non-existent to highly respectable in the past couple of years, largely thanks to an increasingly swish range of phones and LCD TVs. The company, once derided for producing cheap and cheerful tat, is now beginning to challenge the big boys such as Apple and Sony.
This new-found design nous is filtering down to the company's other products and the most recent range to benefit from an overhaul is its MP3 players. But, having been so completely bowled over recently by iRiver's gorgeous Clix player, Samsung's 2GB YP-T9 was going to have its work cut out.
It gets off to a pretty decent start though, with looks that are certainly more Armani than M&S. Like the Clix, the T9 is built from a solid-feeling, glossy-black plastic. It picks up fingerprints like a forensic investigator at a crime scene, but then most products with this kind of finish do. It's small and slim too – not the most anorexic player around perhaps, but it does fit nicely in your hand and is pretty light at just 49g. The slightly larger size also allows the inclusion of a rather swanky 1.8in colour screen and decent, thumb-sized controls on the front.
Those good looks continue when you switch it on, revealing the screen in all of its glory. It isn't quite the crowd-pleaser that the Clix's 2.2in screen is – at only 176 x 220 compared to 320 x 240, but it isn't half bad. Watching video footage or viewing photos wasn't nearly as eyeball-goggling as I thought it was going to be.
On the subject of video, the T9 plays back SVI files at 15fps, but fortunately there's no need to worry about the conversion process. As you copy files across to the player using the supplied software the conversion is done for you and, impressively, it doesn't take too long. Copying across a 42min episode of Heroes took around half an hour on my sluggish old Core Solo laptop, but those with faster machinery will see this fall significantly. The downside is that the list of file types the software will convert from is limited – WMV, AVI and ASF files are supported but it won't convert DivX, QuickTime or MP4 files.