Naturally, the P3 offers extensive multimedia playback. It supports MP3, WMA (including subscription), AAC, OGG, and FLAC audio; WMV9 (including Amazon Unbox), MPEG4 (.AVI, .SVI), and H.264 (.MP4) video (some conversion required); JPEG, BMP, and PNG photo; and text files. You can even create your own memos (in TXT format) on the device, using virtual buttons that mimic a standard telephone keypad. If you tire of your own content, the P3 offers an excellent FM radio with autoscan and up to 30 presets. In addition, the player includes both FM and voice recording. Other fairly standard features consist of support for Windows, Mac, and Linux; slideshows with transition effects; a clock with an alarm function; a seven-band user-customizable EQ; and Samsung's DNSe 3.0 sound enhancement technology. Plus, there's a file browser for those who prefer to navigate content by folders (rather than the step-down artist > album > song method).
From there, we get into the more unusual--and perhaps more fun--extras. Foremost is A2DP Bluetooth support, which lets you listen to music via compatible Bluetooth headphones as well as pair the player with your cell phone for taking and receiving calls. Then, of course, you have the multitude of widgets. One is a light bulb that you tap to adjust the brightness of the screen; another is a globe you can spin to see the time in various cities around the world; yet another is a "sleep cat" that you can tap to set a sleep timer (naturally, it meows as you do so). There's also a calculator as well as support for several games, such as Bubble Bang, World Car Puzzle, and Sudoku Champ.
As with the P2, the P3 offers a customizable interface with various fonts and themes to choose from, plus the ability to set any image as wallpaper. The player is also fully updatable via firmware updates, so you never know what games and widgets may be added going forward. Samsung was fairly consistent with firmware releases last time around, so we suspect the company will make good on them going forward.
Super sound; dazzling display
Given the Samsung P2's impressive performance, we had our hopes set high for the P3. We were not disappointed. During preliminary testing, the P3 excelled in every area. Foremost, audio quality is nothing short of stellar--it would not be a stretch to call this an audiophile's MP3 player, especially given the FLAC support. Everything from hip-hop to blues to classical to electronica shines. (It helps that we tested the player with a pair of earphones.)
Hilary Hahn's violin in her renditions of Bach is truly haunting, and the busier highs in The Bangles' "Hazy Shade of Winter" couldn't be more individually clear. Mids across genres are warm and enveloping with the rich, buttery tone we crave in this range. Low-end representation is similarly striking, the bass exceptionally tight and present without being overly forceful (Kanye West's "Heartless" provides the perfect example here). Plus, the P3 gets extraordinarily loud, so it wouldn't be a stretch to hook this MP3 player up to your home audio setup.
Video and photo display is also exceptional. Color saturation is excellent, viewing angles are great, and fine detail is very clear--no blurred edges here. We only experienced pixelation with low-quality video files, and that can't be blamed on the player. Conversion of video files was a fairly quick and simple process through WMP. Similarly, rated battery life is admirable, clocking in at 40 hours for audio and 6 for video. We still have to test this out for ourselves, but things are looking good thus far. Our one minor gripe is that the processor seems to lag a bit when switching among certain functions.
To P3 or not to P3
To be sure, the Samsung P3 is no iPod Touch killer, but then we're not sure it's meant to be. After all, the P3 is significantly cheaper than the Touch--by about $100 across the capacity board. However, pitted against other flash players and touch-screen PVPs, the P3 holds its own and then some. If you like the idea of massive screen real estate, a heap of extras, and superb performance, this device should be at the top of your list.