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The 1GB, flash-based Samsung YP-T8 can't boast the small dimensions of the 1GB Apple iPod Shuffle, but then the Shuffle is always mysterious in use, never giving away exactly what it's playing. In contrast, the YP-T8 features a 41mm (1.8-inch) colour screen, and -- impressively for such a small device -- will even play video.
The YP-T8 is compatible with many online music stores like Napster. Unfortunately, like all non-Apple players, it won't work with iTunes. The YP-T8 is available in black or white, the 1GB version will set you back about £140 online. The 512MB iteration is around £100 and the 2GB version about £160. All are flash-based and identical in appearance.
We initally mistook the YP-T8 for a mobile phone. The similarity is not subtle -- most people will assume you're using a mobile phone when you pull the player out of your pocket.
Our review model was coated in a white plastic/faux-titanium paint job -- the YP-T8 is an attractive player, but won't ignite the Hoxton set. What seems like a novel mix of mobile phone and iPod aesthetics is let down by a fiddly control system. The YP-T8 uses a clickable rocker switch for scrolling up and down through menus. Depressing the left arrow switch then selects the currently highlighted option. Unlike the Clickwheel on the iPod, there is a definite learning curve to this process.
As with all manufacturers, Samsung faced the uncomfortable challenge of bettering or at least matching Apple's Clickwheel interface. No one has come up with a preferable alternative yet, and the YP-T8's unusual toggle switch, though ambitious, inevitably won't impress anyone who's spent any time with the iPod.
The YP-T8 brushed off our best efforts to dent its casing with
keys. It's reasonably scratch-resistant, certainly more so than the
nano. Both players will react badly to abrasive surfaces, so you'll
want to take advantage of the rubber skin bundled with the T8.
Samsung's players are not well catered for by the accessories market,
but the bundled skin is excellent.
The headphones included with the YP-T8 are good enough for casual
listening, but won't have audiophiles grinning. The simple solution is
to replace these with a better pair -- something most users do as a
matter of course with any player.
Samsung is taking things in the right direction: the YP-T8 is much
better looking than most of the players Apple's competitors were
producing last year. There's still some way to go before the T8 matches
the nano for styling, but the upcoming YP-Z5 may be worth looking out
for if the styling on the T8 doesn't grip you.
Unusually, the microphone on the YP-T8 is located on the lower end of the player. Though this is not a huge problem, it does increase the risk of obscuring the microphone and muffling your recorded sound. You could use the player upside-down, but this means that if you need to check the length of the voice file, you'll be reading the display the wrong way around.