One theme that most MP3 players have in common is that the music is personal and not meant to be shared. Samsung is trying to change that perception. Samsung has a new MP3 player called the K5 which has both a headphone jack and external speakers.
- External Speakers
- Available in 2GB and 4GB Memory capacities
- Flash Storage Device
- Plays MP3,WMA
- FM Tuner
- Digital Clock
- Playback time up to 30 hrs. with earphones (up to 6 hrs with speaker)
- Built-in Li-Poly rechargeable battery
The biggest feature that the K5 has, and the one that will set it apart from all other MP3 players, is the external speakers. They are hidden in the back of the K5 and they slide out. They not only play sound, but provide a base for the MP3 player to rest on so you can see the display. The display also switches from a horizontal view to a vertical view so it is oriented correctly.
The interface is probably the second thing that will set the K5 apart. With the K5 there are no moving buttons to push, instead there is a touch sensitive control area. When the K5 is powered off you can almost not see the area where the buttons are. Once you turn it on, the buttons light up so you can see them. This interface is great because it reduces the possibility of wearing out the buttons.
The K5 also has an FM turner, which is a nice addition. It goes back to the original Walkmans which often had a tape player and a FM tuner. This gives you another option when you are tired of listening to your collection of MP3’s.
Samsung included an alarm in the K5. It is actually really smart because with the external speakers you can use this as an alarm clock.
The K5 does not come with much in the box. You can expect only the bare essentials. Included in the box are the K5, headphones, a USB cable and software.
The Samsung K5 is very well designed for the features that it has. You will immediately notice that is it thicker and heavier than most other current MP3 players. This is mainly due to the extra bulk and weight of the external speakers. Despite the extra size and weight, the K5 is small enough to fit in your pocket, but with dimensions of 3.8″ x 1.8″ x 0.7″ and a weight of 3.7oz you are certainly going to know that it is there.
The front of the K5 is where all the action is. The majority of the front is taken up with the screen and controls. The screen is a 1.7″ color OLED screen. The screen is full color and has good resolution which is great for looking at pictures. The buttons are very unique because they are more like a touch screen. This is good and bad because you will not wear out the buttons, but it is impossible to use the K5 without actually looking at it. I have gotten used to reaching in my pocket and pressing the skip button any time I want to go ahead in my song list. Using the K5 without looking at it would be impossible because not only would you not know what button you are pushing, but you will probably have the hold button on to prevent the buttons from accidentally being pressed while in your pocket. Because of the slick front I highly recommend that you get a screen protector to keep the surface from getting all scratched up.
On top of the K5 is the power and hold switch. To activate the power you have to slide and hold the switch for approximately 3 seconds. To activate the hold you slide the power button further and it will click into the hold position. The hold switch is for locking the controls and making it so they do not activate by accident. This is especially necessary because of the sensitivity of the touch screen controls.
The bottom of the K5 holds the 3.5mm headphone jack and a proprietary charging/syncing port. It would be nice to see the use of a mini USB port, because that would eliminate the need to replace an expensive cable in case you lose yours.
The back is bare, but it slides up to reveal the external speakers. The speakers slide straight up, but when they are fully extended they angle slightly which allows the K5 to sit on your desk. The display on the front also rotates 90 degrees so it has the correct orientation. Sliding out the speakers reveals a reset button. This is used if your player freezes up and stops working.
The menu is very nicely laid out and easy to use. Each option is represented by a picture made up of little blue dots. As you change options, for example from FM to MP3, the dots will morph from a radio into a set of headphones. The only downfall of this interface is that you have to wait about 3 seconds while the dots rearrange themselves, before the menu is active again. This is cool to watch at first but can get annoying after a while. The options you have to choose from are: Music, FM Radio, Photo, Alarm and Settings.
The Music option is for playing your MP3s. Here you will see a standard set of options for viewing your music like: Now Playing, Artists, Albums, Tracks and Genres. When the music is playing and you press the menu button you will be given several other options. There are equalizer settings, alarms, and play modes. The equalizer settings are Normal, Voice, Bass Boost, 3D Sound and Concert Sound. Play modes are Normal, Repeat One, Repeat and Shuffle.
FM Radio is the next option. There are not as many options here, the only thing you can really do is change the station and change the volume. Pressing the menu button you get the option to view presets, add presets, auto set presets, and change the FM Sensitivity. There is no built-in FM antenna so you have to plug in the headphones before you will hear anything. So even when you are using the speakers you still need to have the headphones plugged in.
Photo mode is fairly basic. When you first go there you will be given a thumbnail view of all your pictures. There are four thumbnails per page and you have to scroll up or down to see the rest. Once you have selected a picture and are viewing it in full screen, you can press the menu button to get a couple options. These options are to turn on background music and set the picture as the screen saver.
The last mode you have is the Alarm mode. In the alarm mode you have the ability to save several alarms, each with individual settings. You can setup one alarm for work which would be Monday through Friday, and another for weekends when you want to sleep in. There is also a customizable snooze, you can choose between 3, 5 and 10 minute intervals. You can also customize the sound that you hear when the alarm goes off. There are three sound that you can choose from. You can choose to have one of your own MP3’s as the wake up song, but you have to add each one manually and this is done from the Music menu. Unfortunately, you cannot choose the radio to wake up by.
The settings menu seems to be where Samsung decided to put the options that would not fit anywhere else. The settings include screen saver, time, languages and looking up system information.
A couple of items the K5 is missing are expandable memory, and a replaceable battery. In order to compete in this crowded market an MP3 player really has to stand out. Making a product that will last longer than a couple years is a really good way to stand out. I really am not into purchasing disposable electronics, especially not when they cost as much as the K5 does.
MP3 player performance is a measure of how well it performs its tasks. The first task of an MP3 player is to play music. The second task is anything else that it can do like FM radio, looking at pictures, and alarms.
As far as playing music the Samsung K5 does a really good job. I could not find anything I would complain about. There are several different ways to play music on the K5. You start by choosing how you want the songs listed, you can choose by playlist, artist, album, track or genre. Once you choose the list you can choose to play all the songs in that order or just play one song. No matter which one of those you choose, you can have the music played in order, shuffled, repeat all and repeat one. While the music is playing there are several Equalizer options you can choose from, they are: Vocal, Bass Boost, 3D sound, and Concert Hall. All the equalizer settings work fairly well and depending on the type of music they can really enhance the sound. Unfortunately, there is no user customizable equalizer setting. The music sounds great whether it is coming from headphones or from the speakers.The headphones that are provided are a little different then the standard ear buds that come with MP3 players. They are a mix between ear bud and ear canal earphones like Shure earphones. The speakers are capable of really loud sound. You’re not going to use this for a party or anything, but it is plenty loud for a small group in a small room. The K5 natively supports MP3 and WMA formats. There is an automatic fade-in function that you may or may not like. I got used to it after a while, but it would be nice if it was configurable. What happens is every time you change the song, equalizer, or open and close the speakers the volume starts low and quickly works its way back to where you had it before.
Battery life is just as important as how well it plays. You don’t want to be in the middle of your favorite song and have it go out on you. Samsung claims that you can get 30 hours of playtime using headphones and 6 hours using the speakers. This is very decent when compared to others, but during my test I actually got slightly better times. Using medium volume and a group 128Kbit/sec MP3’s I was actually able to squeeze 31 hours using the headphones and 9 hours using the speakers. There is a small battery indicator in the top right hand corner of the screen. Unfortunately there are only 4 bars to represent the charge. I would have preferred a number that changes from 100 to 0 indicating the percent of charge you have left.
FM radio works ok. Although, it only works if you have the headphones plugged in, this is because the headphones are the antenna. This is ok when you are not using the speakers, but when you are using the speakers you still need to have the headphones plugged in. Changing the station is very easy, but not really quick. The first time you setup your favorite stations it is going to take you quite a while. After it is setup you can use the presets.
Picture viewing does not serve a very big purpose. It works like it is suppose to, but that is not much. The screen is too small to really be able to make out any real detail in a picture, in addition OLED screens are not known for being really sharp. In fact a lot of digital cameras have bigger screens. If that is the case for you, then you would be better off leaving the pictures on your camera and show them from there. Using the Samsung media studio you can upload just about any type of photo, but they are all converted to JPG before they are stored on the K5.
Warranty and Support
The K5 comes with a 1 year limited warranty. This is fairly standard with MP3 players, but is still very stingy. The only thing you should really worry about breaking is the sliding mechanism for the speakers.
Like I mentioned above, having great and unique features is a good way to attract impulse buyers who have a lot of disposable income. If you really want to attract long term customers you need to have longevity built into the device. The K5 has a lot of great features, but I am not sure most people will want to pay $229 for a 4GB player, considering the SanDisk Sansa is only $250 for an 8GB flash-based player with expandable storage and a replaceable battery. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|