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Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6 review: Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6

Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6

Donald Bell
Donald Bell Senior Editor / How To
Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.
4 min read

Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6

Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6

The Good

The <b>Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6</b> offers most of the capabilities of Samsung's popular Android smartphones, minus the phone and monthly fees.

The Bad

Screen quality is subpar and the camera is lackluster.

The Bottom Line

The Galaxy Player 3.6 costs $50 less than the Apple iPod Touch, but it's easy to see where Samsung cut corners.

Editors' note: Some of this review is taken from CNET's review of the Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0, which has a larger, 5-inch screen and many of the same features as the Galaxy Player 3.6.

The logic behind Samsung's Galaxy Player 3.6 seems fairly straightforward. You take Samsung's tailored version of the Android 2.3 smartphone software, put it in a pocket-size device with a 3.6-inch screen, and you should have an appealing alternative to Apple's popular iPod Touch.

Now, we've already seen Samsung ruin this recipe a few times with its overpriced, underperforming Galaxy Player 4.0 and Galaxy Player 5.0. Where the Galaxy Player 3.6 has an advantage is its $149 retail price, which sits $50 below the iPod Touch's.

Does Samsung offer some killer feature or an eye-catching design to help the Galaxy Player 3.6 stand out in the growing crowd of sub-$300 Android devices? The answer, unfortunately, is still 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.

This is by far the prettiest Galaxy Player device I've seen yet, which is surprising, given that it's also the least expensive. The lightweight, gunmetal-gray casing feels good in your hand and does an admirable job of concealing fingerprints.

It measures a slender 0.4 inch thick, putting it in the ballpark of the 0.28-inch iPod Touch. When you account for the fact that the Player's removable back plate conceals a replaceable battery and a microSD memory card slot, the extra girth seems excusable.

You get a standard volume rocker and power button on the right edge of the Player 3.6, along with a headphone jack and Micro-USB port on the bottom. Samsung throws in a pair of decent in-ear headphones (with in-line mic) along with a USB cable and power outlet adapter.

The Galaxy Player offers most of the features you'd find in a modern smartphone, minus the phone or cellular data connection. You'll find front and rear cameras (maxing out at 2 megapixels), GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, and support for Google's suite of official mobile applications, including Gmail, Google Talk, and the Android Market (now Google Play). 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.

One unique feature worth mentioning is the inclusion of an FM radio tuner. People are still nuts for radio, and it also comes in handy for tuning in TV audio at the gym.

Other notable apps include Quickoffice, AllShare (DLNA), Kies Air, Angry Birds, Samsung's Smart View TV remote app, and a TextPlus app you can use to send and receive text messages over Wi-Fi.

Audio performance
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.

Video performance
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.

Final thoughts
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.

Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6

Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6
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