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Samsung S5 review: Samsung S5

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Speaker and more features
The Samsung S5 has just about every other feature in the book, including the super nifty slide-out speaker. Let's face it: it's just more fun to share tunes from something that actually looks like a portable speaker, rather than an MP3 player with two tiny ports on the back. The speaker is silver and decked out in circular dots, and it props the player up at a handy angle. The built-in alarm clock further augments its usefulness: leave the speaker open, and you can be awake to a song of your choice.

Additional features include photo and video support, although the 1.8-inch screen is really too small for enjoy watching videos on. Plus, the S5 only supports Samsung's proprietary SVI format for video. On the plus side, JPEG pictures look bright and crisp, and you can view them while listening to music. On the audio side, the S5 can play MP3, AAC, and WMA, including on-the-go subscription tracks from services such as Rhapsody. If you get tired of your content, you can switch over to the FM radio, which has an autoscan function, 30 preset slots, as well as a recording feature. There's also a built-in mic, which can be used to make voice recordings but also comes in handy when you pair the S5 with a Bluetooth headset. The player supports stereo Bluetooth, so you can pair it with wireless headphones and a Bluetooth-capable cell phone.

An MP3 player for picky listeners
If we could say only one thing about the Samsung S5, it's that the device is clearly an audio enthusiast's MP3 player, although we lament that lack of support for any lossless codecs. Still, the inclusion of multiple sound enhancement options--Bass Boost, 3D Surround, multiple EQ presets/sound effects, and a nine-band user EQ--make it easy to fine-tune audio to your exact specifications. Even through the included earbuds, which has a design that provides a more secure and comfortable fit, the S5 sounds very good. Swap in some high-end earphones (the Shure SE310, for example) and you're really in for stellar sound. We enjoyed a mini marathon of new wave music and were in heaven. The hi-hats in David Bowie's "Fame" and Tears for Fears' "Sowing the Seeds of Love" were crisp and sparkly, and the synth guitar in The Police's "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" was warm and encompassing. Bass is nice, tight, and thumping without overpowering the songs. All in all, we were quite taken with the balance and loveliness of the sound across all genres.

Don't expect that same experience from the built-in speaker. It doesn't really get that loud. Also, tunes definitely sound a bit tinny and bright. Still, the lack of any distortion is certainly impressive. The rated battery life of 24 hours goes to show that the size shaved off for the S5 was likely in that area--the K5 was rated for 30 hours and tested about 32 hours. Still, 24 hours isn't bad, and the five-hour rating for the speaker should be plenty as well. Rated video battery life is average at four hours, but who wants to watch video on that tiny screen anyway?

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