Samsung YEPP YH-820MC review:

Samsung YEPP YH-820MC

Less unique features include several power-conservation functions; the ability to organize and find tracks by album, artist, genre, or playlist; fade-in/fade-out controls; support for MP3, WMA, protected WMA, and OGG playback; and a system-recovery function that restores the player to its initial state in case of a catastrophic software failure. The player also adds support for Microsoft's Windows Media Player 10.0 DRM (previously code-named Janus). Surprisingly, the YH-820MC doesn't have an FM tuner, which would seal the deal for many prospective buyers looking for a full-featured player.

Samsung's generous software bundle includes a copy of the latest Napster client, which can be used with or without opening a Napster account to rip, organize, import, and download music files to your player. There's also a copy of Samsung's Multimedia Studio, which can be used to edit photographs, play videos, and create downloadable slide shows. Both applications are easy to learn and use, although Multimedia Studio is no substitute for a full-blown image editor such as Adobe Photoshop.

The Samsung YEPP YH-820MC's voice-recording quality was excellent, and although its MP3 line-in transcriptions were hardly audiophile quality, they were good enough to satisfy most earbud listeners. Photos looked sharp on the player's 65,000-color display, which provided good color saturation and acceptable blacks. But despite its abundance of apparent detail, the 1.5-inch, 128x96-pixel LCD was in general too small to be useful for anything more demanding than reviewing snapshots.

With default EQ settings and Samsung's bundled earbuds, our test unit didn't have an enormous amount of high-end or inner detail. But it produced a fair amount of bass--far more than the original iPod Mini and about the same as Apple's second-generation Mini models. Fiddling with the YH-820MC's TruBass and SRS settings improved the sound considerably, and when we listened through a pair of high-quality Etymotic ER-6 canalphones, the resulting sound was in a class with that of any other handheld player we've tested. The upper bass was tight and punchy, midrange registers were clean and relatively uncolored, and the high end was brilliant without ever becoming harsh or strident. We also obtained volume levels higher than anything we'd be comfortable pumping into our naked eardrums for long.

Samsung specs the YH-820MC's nominal battery life at about 8 hours, but we squeezed a little more than 9.5 hours out of our test unit while playing continuously at about half volume. This figure, less than half that provided by the iPod Mini and the Rio Carbon, is the YH-820MC's Achilles' heel. Another performance disappointment was the YH-820MC's mediocre USB 2.0 transfer rate. Using bundled software, our evaluation unit took 6 minutes to download 119MB of MP3 files (25 files in all), yielding a transfer rate of about 330K per second, much less than that of competitors such as Dell's Pocket DJ, which moved 2.7MB per second in a similar test. Also, we occasionally hit some speed bumps where the processor would stall for a second or two while browsing or navigating. Although this is normal with most hard drive-based players, it happened more often than usual.

What you'll pay

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