Small and lightweight, the Samsung YP-S2 (a.k.a. the Pebble) separates itself from the rest of the budget digital audio player crowd by packing quality audio into a tiny, fashion-conscious package. Priced to move at $39.99, this device is $10 cheaper than the1GB iPod shuffle; it's available in multiple colors (black, green, purple, red, and marble); and it features a unique earbud-lanyard that enables users to wear the player around the neck like jewelry. All in all, the 1GB YP-S2 is one of the better value-price players on the market.
Measuring 1.7 x 1.6 x 0.7 inches and weighing a barely-there 0.7 ounces, the round, oblong, flat YP-S2 resembles a skipping stone. Flipping over the player reveals a basic, easy-to-use circular control setup that let us adjust volume, skip forward or backward between tracks, and play or pause songs by pushing the rocker in a particular direction. Situated next to these controls is the Smart button, which lets you select audio settings (Normal, Studio, and Concert) and play modes (Repeat All, Shuffle, Playlist), as well as toggle the LED on and off.
No Display? Not a (Big) Problem
The YP-S2 may lack a display, but that doesn't mean there's no way to determine what you're doing. Samsung wisely created a color-coded LED lighting scheme that indicates what the player is doing at any given time. Blue indicates that the YP-S2 will continuously play all your music files; magenta, the YP-S2 is running through a playlist; green-blue-magenta flashing in succession means that the shuffle feature is activated. If you're looking to play a particular song, however, you're out of luck; you'd have to skip song after song to find the one you're looking for.
An audio jack on the top of the YP-S2 serves dual purposes: You can plug in the bundled earbud-lanyard cord or a special USB dongle for charging through a notebook and managing your music. Although we didn't like the hard, uncomfortable earbuds, we enjoyed the crisp (and surprisingly loud) sounds of Handsome Boy Modeling School's "The Truth" and other MP3s in our collection (the YP-S2 also supports OGG and WMA playback). But once we swapped the default earbuds for a pair of Sony MDR-V150 headphones, we were able to appreciate the audio magic of Samsung's proprietary DNSe 2.0 sound technology. Tracks sounded far more vibrant, with a full, encompassing sound.
Easy File Transfers
Transferring audio to the YP-S2 is quite simple. The player comes bundled with the Samsung Media Studio software, which upgrades to EmoDio and lets us subscribe to Datacasts (Samsung's term for podcasts), and offers several playlist types, including Exercise, Study, Driving, Party, and Meditation, into which we could drag and drop our music. The Samsung Media Studio software is for PCs only, but don't fret, Mac users: you can drag and drop songs from iTunes directly into the player and use the handy mobile playlist options to create a playlist on the go. Just keep in mind that the YP-S2 doesn't support AAC files.
Battery Life and Verdict
The Samsung YP-S2 held its charge for just over 10 hours of continuous music playback, which is more than enough time for an adrenaline-pumping soundtrack for the gym or for providing a much-needed distraction while taking a lengthy flight. Like the iPod shuffle, YP-S2 won't win over those who require a display, but if you're on a budget, it's a fun and fashionable choice.