To my ears, the Galaxy Player 3.6 is the best-sounding of Samsung's Player series. During playback I heard none of the hiss and interference that was present in the Player 4.0 and 5.0. The default sound quality is a little narrow with a midfocused nasal quality, but once you kick in Samsung's SoundAlive audio enhancement settings, it's hard to put down. Of course, you can go overboard with the included 3D audio options or virtual concert hall reverbs, but if you exercise some restraint it's easy to dial in a great sound.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy Player 3.6's screen is a far cry from the quality expected from modern smartphones. Its 480x340-pixel resolution is half that of the iPod Touch, and the TN-type LCD has a woefully limited viewing angle.
There are some silver linings, though. The screen's backlight can actually crank up nice and bright (though that uses up a battery charge faster). Also, the broad selection of compatible video file types is impressive: AVI, MP4, WMV, ASF, MKV, and FLV.
If you're wondering about the quality of videos you record with the integrated camera, don't get your hopes up. This thing shoots strictly in standard definition, and the results aren't great. Photos are also disappointing, as the 2-megapixel camera lacks autofocus, macro focus, or a flash.
Battery and system performance
Samsung rates the Galaxy Player 3.6 at 5 hours of video playback and 30 hours of audio playback. We'll update this review with results from CNET Labs once testing is complete.
In terms of system performance, Samsung is using a single-core 1GHz processor to get the job done, which isn't quite up to the standards Samsung has set with its dual-core smartphones. It works, though, and feels very much like a shrunken version of 2010's Galaxy Tab 7.
Onboard storage is listed as 8GB, but the storage available to the user is closer to 5GB. Expect to invest in a microSD card if you want to load up a substantial music and video collection.
So far, the Galaxy Player 3.6 is my favorite of the entire Galaxy Player line. Its price shows an appropriate amount of humility in the face of the iPod Touch. Its audio quality and hardware features are just what they should be. The Android experience isn't hobbled or twisted. If it weren't for the mediocre screen and camera quality, I would hold this up as the iPod Touch alternative that Android fans have been waiting for. But it's not quite there yet.
That said, as the street price for Player 3.6 starts to dip down toward $99, I'm happy to call this the best iPod Touch alternative worth settling for.