Driven by a 1GHz single-core processor, and running Android 2.3, the Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2 packs 8GB of internal memory (1.9GB available for apps, 4.6GB for general storage, 6.5GB total). Of course that’s just out of the box; the Player’s microSD slot allows you to drop in a memory card of up to 32GB capacity. With cards that size under $30, that’s quite an economical option, particularly if you feel like carrying a lot of music around.
As it has only a single-core CPU, the Player falls well behind even an average new smartphone in terms of raw performance. In Quadrant benchmarks, it consistently scored around 1850. That’s actually much better than the average 1GHz single core, but weak compared to the dual-core chips standard in smartphones and tablets.
Should you care? Well, the Galaxy Player isn’t going to be well suited to playing back really high-quality video. But with an 800 x 480 screen and no HDMI out, HD video is kind of wasted on it anyway. If video beyond YouTube and an occasional movie on a plane ride is a concern for you, you might want to look at a small tablet instead. If that’s not your angle, you’re not going to be disappointed by the speed. “Not as fast as a dual core” isn’t the same thing as “not fast” by a long shot. The subjective experience of moving around the device is plenty snappy, and it has the horsepower for lots of games and lighter weight video to boot.
In short, the GP4.2 has basically all the usual capabilities of a smartphone minus the phone. Although it doesn’t have truly mobile internet, it still has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a full GPS receiver. Add to that a built in FM radio receiver, just in case you ever get bored of the music you’ve already got.
The Player does have one added feature however, that’s not found in most other devices: the ability to link up to a regular phone via Bluetooth. Once connected, the Player acts like a really advanced headset — you can dial calls from it, receive calls, and talk into the player as if it were a smartphone, all while your regular phone is tucked away in a pocket or case. This has some serious limits of course, such as not being able to dial numbers you don’t have in your contacts. But it’s nonetheless pretty impressive, and useful if you want an Android smartphone, but either don’t want the expensive data plans, or have to use some other type of phone for work.
There’s not much about the Galaxy Player that’s geared to productivity. In fact, beyond the standard Android apps like email, calendar, web browser, and other organizational tools, it really doesn’t do anything extra to help out with the less fun activities. While the 4.2 does include QuickOffice, it’s the free version which only allows you to view Office documents, not create or edit them.
This is what the Player lives for. To start with, as an Android device the Player automatically hooks in to Google Music, Google Movies, Google Books, and the rest of Google’s entertainment ecosystem for playing current content and finding new stuff. That’s not even mentioning the downloadable apps like Pandora and a billion other options for streaming audio or video that you can find in the Android app store.
On top of all this, the GP4.2 also comes with some games pre-loaded. Besides the ubiquitous “Angry Birds,” it also features versions of FIFA 2012 and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. Although beware, NFS will require a 500MB download before it will run, and FIFA a whopping 1.5GB. But if you’re in to those, they do a nice job showing off surprisingly well you can control a game with nothing but a tilt sensor and a touchscreen.
Unfortunately, it seems like the camera sits alongside the plastic casing as one of the things Samsung cut corners on. Besides being only 2 megapixels, its greatest weakness is focus. Even snaps taken in good light tend to blur details and fine edges. It’s good enough for quick postage stamp type shots, but it doesn’t hold a candle to a good smartphone. Don’t bother thinking of this as a substitute for bringing the real camera to that family function or sporting event. It also suffers from the expected, and rather universal, weakness of device cameras in less than bright lighting.
The Galaxy Player 4.2 holds up pretty well on the battery life front, especially in its intended role of playing music. But even when you’re doing other activities, such as browsing the web or reading a book, it delivers fairly reliable life. Of course usage here is even more subjective than with a smartphone, but I certainly don’t think you’ll have to worry about not getting a full day’s use out of it.