Excellent audio quality; Access to lots of Android apps; Expandable memory; Can be used to send/receive calls over Bluetooth;
Screen has low resolution and narrow viewing angles; Mediocre camera; Design is chunkier than iPod touch
Samsung's Galaxy Player 3.6 offers easy access to Android apps along with great audio quality for $50 less than the iPod touch, but you'll need to make some trade-offs.
Take a quick glance at Samsung's Galaxy Player 3.6 and you'd swear it was an Android phone. That's essentially what this device is--minus the phone part. The Player 3.6 lets you can access all sorts of Android apps via Wi-Fi and can even be used to make calls (for those ashamed of their BlackBerrys or flip phones) over Bluetooth. And did we mention the Galaxy Player starts at just $149 compared to the iPod touch's $199 price tag? Still, Apple's device is the leading portable media player for a reason. Here's how the Player 3.6 stacks up.
Above the Player's 3.6-inch display is a thin, black earpiece and silver Samsung logo. To the right is the front-facing VGA camera. The standard Android Settings, Home and Back buttons sit beneath the screen. Tying it all together is glossy, black bezel that, unfortunately, picks up fingerprints quickly.
The Galaxy Player sports a 3.6-inch HVGA TFT display with a relatively low 480 x 320 resolution. Meanwhile, the iPod touch features Apple's gorgeous 3.5-inch Retina display, which manages to pack more pixels, 960 x 640, into a screen that's 0.1 inches smaller than the Galaxy Player 3.6's screen. When it comes to visual clarity, the iPod touch is beyond reproach. Text on NYTimes.com was razor-sharp when viewed on the iPod touch, but looked somewhat fuzzier on the Galaxy Player.
Apple's iPod touch also beats out the Galaxy Player 3.6 in the display brightness category, though not by much. The touch notched a rating of 364 Lux to the Galaxy Player's 341.
Despite having just one external speaker, the Galaxy Player 3.6 pumped out an impressive amount of sound thanks to its SoundAlive SoundEngine. On AC/DC's "Highway to Hell," Bon Scott's raspy vocals came through loud and clear enough to be heard in a busy parking lot, while Angus Young's iconic guitar riffs rang out without a hint of unintended distortion. Only bass-heavy tracks fell flat; Ludacris's "Money Maker" lacked the kind of oomph we would have liked to hear.
The in-ear headset included with the Galaxy Player was adequate, providing accurate sound with a good amount of bass, but audiophiles will more than likely seek out a higher-quality headset.
Software and Interface
At the top of the screen, TouchWiz adds a custom notifications bar that provides message and app alerts, as well as access to several important settings. You can toggle Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Vibration, Auto Rotation and GPS.
Samsung packs the Galaxy Player 3.6 with a bevy of proprietary apps, including its Social Hub, AllShare, Kies Air and Smart View, as well as the standard Google app suite of Google Maps, Gmail, Play Store and more. Samsung's Social Hub provides a single portal from which you can receive push notifications from your social media accounts, instant messages, email and SMS messages.
AllShare allows you to wirelessly stream content from your Galaxy Player to any DLNA-enabled device. We tested the app with a 55-inch Samsung TV and within a few seconds, we were streaming videos from the 3.6. Just keep in mind that you can't stream copy-protected content.
The Galaxy Player's Kies air app allows users to wirelessly sync and back up files stored on the Galaxy Player from any device via a compatible Web browser.
Samsung Mobile LinkHTC Rezound and could answer incoming calls like we would on any other Android device.
While it may not seem practical to use Mobile Link with a smartphone, Samsung says it is a perfect fit for feature phone users who want smartphone functionality without having to fork over monthly data fees. You can also use the Galaxy Player 3.6 as a Bluetooth handset of sorts for bigger phones like the Galaxy Note, should you want to keep it in your bag.
Specs and Performance
The Galaxy Player 3.6 features a 1-GHz single-core Cortex A8 processor, which helps keep the gadget's price down, but doesn't do it any favors in the performance department. On the CPU Benchmark test, the Player scored 1,675, far below the smartphone category average of 2,368. The Galaxy Player fared a little better on the An3DBench 3D graphics test, scoring 6,776. The average Android Phone scores 6,917 on the same test.
In real-world testing, the Galaxy Player 3.6 performed well. Games such as "Angry Birds Space" ran without a hitch, and swiping through the Player's apps was quick and snappy. Web pages, however, took longer to load than the iPad touch when connected to the same Wi-Fi network. In addition, the camera's shutter speed was somewhat sluggish.
The Galaxy Player comes with 8GB of memory, but you can upgrade that up to 32GB using the microSD card slot.
Camera and Camcorder
The Player's WVGA front-facing camera was equally grainy, making the fine details of a person's face hard to make out.
The Galaxy Player 3.6's 1,500mAh battery delivered strong endurance on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which consists of continuous Wi-Fi usage with the screen set to 40 percent brightness. The device lasted 7 hours and 37 minutes with 10 percent still left in the tank. If we extrapolate those results, we would expect to get roughly 8 hours and 45 minutes of battery life out of the Galaxy Player.
Not surprisingly, this runtime is better than the smartphone category average, which is rated at just 5 hours and 47 minutes, since 3G/4G radios simply use more power. Another plus is that the Player 3.6's battery is removable.
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|CPU||1-GHz sing-core Cortex A8|
|Storage Drive Size||8GB|
|Storage Drive Type||Flash Memory|
|Display Resolution||480 x 320|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||0.3|
|Card Reader Size||32GB|
|Warranty / Support|
|Size||4.5 x 2.56 x 0.4 inches|