UPDATE: This very preliminary review was written after just a short time with this device. A much more in-depth version written after in-depth testing is now available:
When Samsung previewed the U.S. editions of its 4- and 5-inch Galaxy Players in New York City this week, I was there at the press event to see how the two iPod-like, Wi-Fi-enabled media players will compare with their already-released European counterparts. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note — a cellular device with a similar form factor — was not on hand in New York, and I was told that Samsung has no immediate plans to release it on either side of the Atlantic.
Set for availability on October 16, the U.S. versions of the Galaxy Player will run Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread), as opposed to the Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) found on their European cousins, said Samsung’s Aaron Perkins, speaking with me at the event.
Beyond that, Samsung is replacing the “hard” button of the European models with a “soft” button for U.S. users, Perkins told me.
Differences Between the 4- and 5-inch Galaxy Players
As I found out in a hands-on session, there will also be some hardware differences between the two U.S. versions. On the back of the 4-incher, you’ll be able to replace the 1,200 mAh battery. On the other hand, the 5-inch edition, to be outfitted with a more powerful 2,500 mAh battery, will come with a solid back.
In addition, Samsung is placing the microSD slot inside the battery compartment on the smaller player, whereas it will be located on the top of the larger device. To me, the latter seems like a much more efficient approach. The card slot on the 7-inch model has a handy snap-out cover which lies flush with the panel.
Each device will offer 8GB of built-in memory, with the micoSD slot capable of holding up to 32GB of additional storage. Other commonly shared specs wil incude a 3.2 megapixel rear-facing camera; VGA front-facing camera; mini-USB slot; 3.5 mm media jack; stereo speakers; and Bluetooth 3.0. Unlike the 4-incher, the bigger player will contain an LED flash on its back.
Both players are now pre-orderable from Samsung’s web site. The 4-inch model, though, will be slightly less expensive, at $230, than the 5-inch offering, which carries a pricetag of $270.
Before launching these two media players as products in either the U.S. or Europe, Samsung demo’d them in New York last May, positioning them variously as Apple iPod competitors and as “companion devices” to Samsung smartphones.
“These will be Wi-Fi only”
True to the earlier spec sheets?floating around?at the May event, the two players will come with Samsung-specific apps such as a music player, a voice recorder and AllShare, for DLNA media sharing. Also embedded are around 20 Android OS apps “optimized” for Galaxy Player, including ThinkFree Office. In addition, the players will run any apps downloadable from the Android Market.
I tried out the voice recorder at this week’s event and it worked just fine, Yet over the din of conversation in the demo room, I needed to hold the player up to my ear to hear the playback. Most likely, some setting was to blame.
The prototypes demo’d back in May didn’t include 3G/4G connectivity, and the same can be said of any actual media player products from Samsung. “These will be Wi-Fi only. We won’t be doing [cellular] connected media players,” Perkins told me at the subsequent event this week.
Galaxy Note Lacks a Wireless Carrier
Recently, though, Samsung has embarked on European demos of the Galaxy Note, a cellular gadget quite similar in form factor to the 5-inch Galaxy Player, except that its screen will be about 0.3-inches larger. In another point of distinction, the Note adds a stylus.
Yet the Note wasn’t present in New York this week, and Samsung has no immediate plans to release the smartphone/tablet in either the U.S. or Europe, said Ethan Rasiel, director of PR for Samsung Electronics. “The Samsung Note will be released through wireless carriers, and we haven’t announced any carrier relationships [for it] as of yet,” Rasiel told me.