UPDATE: This preliminary review was written based on a short trial period with this device. A much more in-depth version written after in-depth testing is available now:
Last month, Samsung announced plans to release an Android OS-based handheld computer focused on games, video, and music. The Samsung Galaxy Player was on display at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, where I got a chance to test it out.
I'd like to share some of my first thoughts on this upcoming device, and you should keep your eyes open for a full review when the release gets closer.
BUILD & DESIGN
On the outside, the Galaxy Player is going to be almost identical to Samsung's Galaxy series of smartphones.
It will have a tablet shape, with a 4-inch touchscreen with a WVGA (640 x 800) resolution. This will be an LCD, not the Super AM-OLED display in the smartphones of the Galaxy S series. Still, it looks very good. And a 4-inch screen is a good size for watching video on the go.
I'm assuming leaving out the AM-OLED display is a cost-cutting measure. To be successful, it's going to need to be around the cost of its top competitor, the Apple iPod touch, so it's price will need to be $200 - $300. The Galaxy series smartphones cost significantly more than that, but are generally offered with a carrier subsidy -- that won't be possible with the Player because it is going to be sold directly to the public.
There won't be a physical keyboard, so all text is entered with an on-screen one.
Other Buttons and Controls
For some reason, Samsung decided to drop a dedicated Home button from this handheld -- a decision I disagree with. Pressing down the center of the D-pad takes on the function, when it's not doing something else.
The Samsung Galaxy Player is going to run Google's Android OS 2.2 on a 1 GHz processor. In my preliminary tests, it performed very well. It's completely up to the job of playing the wide range of games available for Google's operating system.
There will be several versions offered, depending on internal storage capacity: 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB. Unlike its chief rival, a microSD memory card slot will be included, further extending the capacity by up to 32 GB.
Although this Samsung device will lack cellular-wireless connectivity, users are going to be able to connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi (b/g/n). The Android OS works quite well over Wi-Fi, and you'll be able to set it to get push email, too.
Bluetooth 3.0 and a GPS receiver will also be included.
Entertainment and Productivity
Naturally, the Galaxy Player is going to come with video and audio players, as well as a YouTube app. I tried out its video app, and it worked quite well.
On the other hand, if you're hoping this handheld will be useful as well as fun, it will be bundled with Google's standard suite of software for email, web browsing, and scheduling. The Android Market includes loads of productivity apps, too.
This handheld is going to include a 3.2 megapixel rear-facing camera as well as a VGA front-facing one for video conferencing.
I didn't get a chance to try these out in my limited time with the Galaxy Player, however.
The Samsung Galaxy Player is designed to appeal to customers who want most of the advantages of a smartphone but without the monthly wireless service fee.
I expect this handheld to sell to teenagers who want a cell phone but whose parents won't pay the monthly service fee. It should also find a market among adults who have a simple, inexpensive phone they like, but would also like the power of an Android OS. It should also appeal to those who once had a Palm or Pocket PC and still want a PDA.
This Samsung product is set to debut in South Korea this month, and is scheduled to start appearing in other countries in April. This roll-out will continue throughout the month of June.
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