The major new addition to the YP-P3 is haptic feedback, whereby the whole unit vibrates subtly as you drag up and down or select an option. It’s a nice, positive response and one that helps complete one of the best – if not the best – touchscreen GUIs I’ve seen on a non-Apple PMP. However, it’s still not perfect.
Most of the time a quick flick of the finger and a stab of the tip is enough to get you where you want to go, but there are odd times when you find yourself prodding repeatedly without much response. This isn’t a disaster, however, and the important thing is that the fundamentals of a decent PMP GUI – clear navigation, coherent style and the ability to find the track, file or playlist you want using standard ID3 tags – are all there.
The YP-P3 also offers a fairly solid selection of features beyond audio playback and those flashy widgets. The radio is enhanced from the one found on the YP-Q1, offering six presets, an auto-preset function and decent sound quality. Unlike the YP-P2 the new model has built-in voice recording, and you’ll also find a photo viewer, a selection of mildly unimpressive Flash games, an alarm, an address book, calculator, text document viewer and a player for podcasts and other data-casts (though you’ll have to set these up using the bundled EmoDio windows application).
There’s some more nice use of the touchscreen UI here, too. Double-tapping in the photo viewer, for example, zooms into the image, while sweeping across moves it around. A quick circular motion rotates the image from portrait into landscape format. It’s surprising how many companies have attempted touchscreen players without working this kind of stuff into the GUI. Samsung hasn’t made the same mistake.
Now, all this stuff is good, but we haven’t yet got to the real strengths of the YP-P3. The first is video playback. The 3in screen is slightly smaller than that of the Cowon S9, let alone the iPod touch, but it’s still pretty sizable for a player of such compact dimensions, and the quality is very good. Colours are bright, the image is crisp and motion is handled smoothly and without too much sign of blur.
You can comfortably watch TV programmes or even movies if you feel the need, and the audio is as powerful and immersive as you could wish for, with a wide and clearly defined stereo soundstage that works well for more action-packed content. As with the YP-Q1, BBC iPlayer WMV files are properly supported, and the YP-P3 will also handle H.264 MP4 files and MPEG-4 (DivX/XviD) AVIs. It’s not as flexible in terms of format support as the Cowon S9 or O2, but it goes a step further than the Sony and Apple competition.
Secondly, while it’s a disappointment that the YP-P3 doesn’t have built-in WiFi, it does, like its predecessor, have built-in Bluetooth. Annoyingly it doesn’t seem to work with everything – my own HP laptop was a no-no – but you can transfer files between your YP-P3 and some Bluetooth phones, use a pair of A2DP headphones, or even use the YP-P3 with it’s built-in speaker and microphone as a Bluetooth hands free set (using the term ‘hands free’ rather loosely, of course).
Best of all, however, is the news that the YP-P3 not only matches Samsung’s previous best players for audio, but surpasses them. The warmth of tone and clarity that characterized the YP-Q1 is still there, but there’s a bit more life and snap to the sound. Unfortunately I’m unable to make direct comparisons, but I’d say that it’s pretty darn close to the Sony NWZ-S639F in terms of quality, and that means it’s very good indeed.