Samsung sent us a preproduction 2GB model, and after unboxing it, we were instantly impressed by the K3's new slimmed-down design. Currently available in either a glossy black or red finish (with a green model hitting select locations soon), and weighing only 1.8 ounces, the K3 stashes away nicely in even the tightest pockets. Samsung kept the same blue-and-white touch-sensitive controls that made navigating the K5 a breeze. And, like its predecessor, scrolling through menus on the 1.8-inch display is a visual treat as the animated icons warp and morph into one another as you cycle through them.
The player produced stellar sound from our MP3 and WMA files once we swapped out the bundled earbuds. Unlike the K5's rubber-tipped earbuds, which are the best sounding and most comfortable bundled earbuds we've ever used, these were standard fare; hard and difficult to place in the ear properly.
The K3 supports music from subscription services such as Napster, Rhapsody, URGE, and Yahoo, but music fans who want to take advantage of Apple's new DRM-free iTunes are snubbed, as the K3 doesn't support AAC files. As with the K5, you can create JPEG slideshows set to music, although the images are a bit dim. The K3's battery is rated at a staggering 25 hours per charge and we saw a very impressive runtime of 21 hours and 14 minutes on our tests.
Although the removal of the integrated speaker gives the K3 its nano-like look and feel, this player lacks one of the K5's coolest features: The built-in alarm clock that could be set to chime with your audio file of choice. As with the K5, users can't create playlists on the fly; WMP, Napster, or Yahoo are required to create and transfer playlists. Samsung also includes an FM radio with 30-presets that offers decent but not spectacular reception.
If you liked the Samsung K5's look, feel, and touch-sensitive interface but weren't too keen on the bulky speaker, the K3 may be the right player for you.
Samsung lets you leave the speakers and cords at home with its slick but pricey K5.
With hoodies on our backs and Samsung K5s on our shoulders.