- Review Price: £98.78
Next to Apple, Samsung has been the most prolific producer of desirable and sexy MP3 players in recent times. In the past year and a half we’ve seen two complete ranges of players launched, with the K5 with its built-in speaker and the Bluetooth-equipped YP-T9 of late 2006 and early 2007 being replaced with a collection of sleeker and slimmer devices at the turn end of last year.
We’ve already reviewed Samsung’s iPod Touch rival the YP-P2 and were suitably impressed and it’s now the turn of the YP-T10, a smaller player with altogether more humble pretensions. It has in its sights mid-range flash players such as the iPod nano, the iRiver Clix 2, Creative’s superb Zen and SanDisk’s excellent Sansa View. And it certainly matches all of them on style.
The T10 has to be one of the lightest and slimmest players we’ve seen at TrustedReviews, and that’s not a statement we make lightly. It’s not quite credit card thin at 7.9mm, but you pop it in your jeans pocket (front or rear) at your peril, because you’re highly likely to forget it’s there. It’s also Bluetooth enabled (you can connect up to two headsets simultaneously), has an FM radio built in, and a claimed 30-hour battery life, all of which make it really stand out.
It’s not a touchscreen device, but the T10 does employ heat-sensitive controls that glow cool white through the gloss black plastic when the player is on and fade to nothing when it’s powered down. These work well, and mean the only physical control blemishing the T10’s otherwise flawless finish is a combined hold and power control on the device’s right hand edge.
The same understated and cool design cannot be said to extend to the menu system, however. Flick the power switch and the screen that greets you is not the usual Samsung cool blue-and-black, but a bright, brash and quirky, cartoon-style system. It makes a change to the achingly sophisticated Apple system and more perfunctory designs on players from Cowon and Archos, but though cute to look at it doesn’t offer any significant benefit in terms of usability.
For despite all of Samsung’s hard work on the look of the interface, the T10 can’t match the usability of the best players in its price bracket. Its main problem is that navigating long lists of tracks, albums, artists or folders isn’t particularly slick. Instead of using an index-based system such as the one employed by the Trekstor Vibez and Creative Zen, you have to scroll through each and every entry in a folder or category. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if the business of scrolling itself wasn’t so laborious. You’d think by holding a finger on the up and down arrows that the scroll speed would increase up, allowing you to whizz through long lists at speed; instead you’re stuck with a long wait as the tracks tick past at a tedious, constant rate.
Loaded up with thousands of tracks, then, the T10 isn’t the greatest player in terms of its ease of use. But instead of making up for this in other areas, it merely compounds them with more peculiarities. The first in the list is the lack of a high capacity option. The T10 is only available in capacities of 2GB, 4GB and 8GB: this would have been acceptable a year ago, but with flash memory so cheap these days and players such as the SanDisk Sansa View and Creative Zen now available in capacities of 16GB and even 32GB, it seems an odd choice.
The second is Samsung’s continued insistence on using a proprietary connection for music transfer instead of something more conventional such as mini or micro USB. It’s a shame with such a svelte player that you have to carry around a bulky cable with you if you want to be able to transfer tracks at the office or when visiting friends.
Sound quality won’t matter to you at all if you choose to operate the T10 in Bluetooth mode – as all the DAC conversion takes place in the headphones – the better your output device, the better the overall sound quality. But hook things up with a more traditional wired pair of cans, earbuds or canal-phones and you may well be a touch disappointed.
Compared to the class-leading players, such as Creative’s Zen or Trekstor’s Vibez, there’s just not the excitement, involvement or zing. Even hooking up a top quality pair of headphones such as Sennheiser’s CX400s can’t draw out the dynamism and impact we’ve come to expect from a player costing £60 (for the 2GB version) to £100 for the 8GB version.
Listen to Vampire Weekend’s wonderfully weird debut album and it feels as if there’s something missing with this Samsung player; as if an underlying section of the music has been stripped out and discarded. It sounds a little thin, and can’t even compete with the Sansa View, which is hardly the last word in sound quality.
The headphones supplied in the box are pretty good, however, with a reasonably solid, balanced sound that doesn’t tire the ears – much better than the horrible white earbuds you get with an Apple player. Music format support is also very good: the T10 will happily play MP3, WMA, OGG and AAC files. Though the latter doesn’t appear on the official compatibility list, the T10 will play them.
The 320 x 240 screen is bright and clear and movies play back at a decent frame rate – up to 30fps – but at two inches in size (the same as on the iPod nano) it isn’t quite big enough to view a movie all the way through comfortably. At this size, you’re also going to be re-encoding a lot before viewing, so it’s not the most practical video player in this respect either.
If Bluetooth capability is essential, the dainty T10 is a very tempting proposition. It’s slim, sexy and packs an impressive number of features into its diminutive body, including an FM radio and the ability to output to two pairs of Bluetooth headphones simultaneously.
In other areas, however, it just can’t compete with the class-leading wired players. It’s not the easiest player to use, wired sound quality isn’t brilliant and you can get more capacity for the money. If Bluetooth isn’t important, we’d urge you to try something different: the more practical 16GB Sansa View may be slightly bulkier, but sound quality, screen, ease of use and storage are far superior.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 7