Editors' note: The majority of this review is repurposed from CNET's review of the Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0, which offers a larger, 5-inch screen and many of the same features as the Galaxy Player 4.0.
The logic behind Samsung's Galaxy Player 4.0 seems fairly straightforward. You take Samsung's tailored version of the Android 2.3 smartphone software, put it on a pocket-size device with a 4-inch screen, and you should have an appealing alternative to Apple's popular iPod Touch.
Setting aside the fact that this device is arriving about four years too late if it intends to catch up to the iPod Touch, the first glaring flaw in Samsung's plan is the Galaxy Player 4.0's $230 price tag. Any device like this priced over $199 has to compete not only with the iPod Touch, but with the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, and a slew of discounted 7-inch tablets.
Does Samsung offer some killer feature or an eye-catching design to help the Galaxy Player 4.0 stand out from the growing crowd of sub-$300 Android devices? Frankly, no. It's not a bad product, though, and if you still suspect that it might be the perfect match for your particular needs, please read on.
The Galaxy Player 4.0 may not be my cup of tea, but it does offer a few features that you won't find on most of its competition.
First off, let's take the iPod Touch out of the equation and assume that you've found your way to this review because of some deep-seeded aversion to Apple products that acts as a cornerstone of your identity. I get it. With the growing rate of Android phone users out there, clearly you're not alone.
So let's look at the rest of the competition. Compared with a Kindle Fire or a Nook Tablet, the Galaxy Player offers additional features such as front and rear cameras, GPS, Bluetooth, and support for Google's suite of official mobile applications, including Gmail, Google Talk, and the Android Market. If you're someone who's already invested heavily in Android Market apps, it makes sense that you'd want a compatible device that can run them. The Kindle and the Nook won't (easily) run apps downloaded from Android Market.
That said, the kind of user who's already heavily invested in Android Market is bound to already have an Android phone with the same (or better) photo and navigation capabilities and a persistent connection to the Internet. I can think of no reason why you would throw $230 at a Galaxy Player 4.0 if you already had an Android smartphone. The possible gain in screen real estate is negligible compared with the payoff of spending the same or less on a 7-inch tablet.
If you're thinking of picking one up to entertain a kid or placate a teenager who'd rather have a proper smartphone, the Galaxy Player will get the job done, but it may provide more than you bargained for.
As a parent myself, I get a little uneasy about the idea of apps potentially tracking the whereabouts of my kid using a mobile device's built-in GPS. You can decline to use these features, but with no way to lock them out, there's no stopping your child from enabling location services when you're not around. I'm also concerned about my kid having an unfiltered connection to the Internet. I think we can all admit that the World Wide Web is the greatest repository of pornography mankind has ever invented. Call me naive, call me prudish, but I think Apple got it right with thethat have been included in iOS from its inception.
OK, so the Samsung Galaxy Player probably isn't for Android smartphone fans and it's arguably an inappropriate gift for kids--so who's left? Well, you can count out the design snobs.
Rimmed in chromed plastic and backed with the kind of glossy white plastic used on the original Galaxy Tab 7, the Galaxy Player 4.0 lacks the fit and finish found on Samsung's modern smartphones and tablets. It feels like a 2010 Samsung design that was slow to make it on to the market--which makes sense considering the device was unveiled in January 2011.