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Samsung YP-D1 review: Samsung YP-D1

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The Good The Samsung YP-D1 features a unique, streamlined design and is packed to the gills with cool extras such as an onboard camera, audio recording, and video-playback capabilities.

The Bad The Samsung YP-D1 uses a proprietary USB port, and all of the buttons--especially the camera-shutter key--are pretty tiny. The YP-D1 is also limited by its 2GB maximum capacity.

The Bottom Line If your idea of the ideal MP3 player is one that packs in every feature in the book, including a 2-megapixel camera, take a long look at the Samsung YP-D1--just keep in mind it maxes out at 2GB.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8

At first glance, the Samsung YP-D1 looks strikingly like a cell phone, taking its design cues from its predecessor, the darker (and camera-less) YP-T8. This is both unsurprising--the company produces plenty of mobiles--and a bit misleading, since making phone calls is one of the few things this flash-based MP3 player can't do. Offered in 1GB and 2GB (pricing unavailable at the time of this writing), the YP-D1 packs a still/video camera, a color screen, and decent playback and recording features into a fun, unique design. Although it'll definitely make sense for those looking for a multitude of features above all else, this MP3 player isn't for everyone.

At 3.4 by 1.7 by 0.5 inches and 2.3 ounces, the Samsung YP-D1 is roughly the same size as an iPod Nano but a bit thicker. Its rounded edges, white and silver body, and large, central screen all lend to its cell phone-like aura. Below the 1.8-inch color screen--by comparison, the Nano's screen is 1.5 inches--you'll find three rather small buttons: two clickable ones for shuttling through tracks and menu options, as well as a spring-loaded jog toggle that rocks up and down for scrolling and volume (controlled from the playback screen only, unfortunately) and pushes in for selecting options. A hold switch and an A/B loop/record button grace the left spine of the device, while play/pause/power, menu, and camera-shutter keys reside on the right. Along the top, you'll find the headphone jack, a lanyard loop, and a microphone hole. A 2.5mm jack for line-in recording and a proprietary USB port live under a sturdy cover on the bottom of the player, as well as a small mono speaker on the back, pointed the wrong way for viewing video but the right way for sharing audio with friends.

With the YP-D1, Samsung includes the USB and line-in/line-out cables, as well as a snap-on belt clip, a neck lanyard, the install disc, a quick-start guide, and a proprietary male-to-female USB adapter for offloading photos to the device directly from digital cameras.

In addition to acting as a USB host/storage receptacle for other cameras, the Samsung YP-D1 has its own 2-megapixel camera built right in. The camera has a 4X digital zoom, allows you to lighten or darken the exposure, and even includes a flash for shooting indoors. You can also shoot short videos. One complaint is that the camera-shutter button is really tiny, so the large-fingered may encounter difficulty; another is that the camera lags about a second before the shot gets taken. In tests, we were pretty impressed with the camera's image quality--if we could manage to steady our hand. Otherwise, it's a bit tough to get a clear shot. Photos are saved as JPEGs (videos as MPEG-4), and we're happy to say that when we offloaded the photos to our PC, they were certainly decent enough to print out as 4x6 snapshots, if not even larger; each shot takes up about 0.26MB of space, so if you're using the YP-D1 only for pictures, you can take about 4,000 on the 1GB version or 8,000 on the 2GB model. Overall, we think Samsung did an excellent job integrating a camera into this MP3 player--probably because the company has had plenty of practice with its cell phones. If you're looking for similar features--but in a hard drive-based device with more storage--check out the 20GB Archos Gmini 402 Camcorder.

The Samsung YP-D1 isn't lacking for other, somewhat more standard features either. Not surprisingly, you can view JPEG photos and MPEG-4 videos; the picture quality for both is OK, but you get a noticeable screen-door effect, in which the lines dividing the pixels are visible. Another feature lets you view text files. There's also an onboard FM tuner from which you can record, as well as a built-in mic for recording voice and a line-in encoder for music capturing; files are saved as MP3 at your choice of bit rates between 32Kbps and 192Kbps. The FM tuner offers 30 presets and a handy autoscan function, and radio reception is slightly above average.

In addition to MP3, the Samsung YP-D1 supports the playback of ASF, OGG, and WMA audio files, including those with Windows Media DRM 9 protection. Thus, it can play back songs that are purchased from sites such as Wal-Mart Music Downloads but not those that are part of a subscription service such as Napster To Go. Samsung includes its own utility for managing content on the device, but we found it easier to just use the drag-and-drop method in Windows Explorer or to sync with Windows Media Player--the latter of which is necessary for transferring protected content to the player.

Either way you slice it, tracks are arranged folder-tree style on the device--usually Artist folder, Album folder, then Track list--unlike on the iPod, which sorts content into Artist, Album, Genre, Playlist, and so on. The Samsung YP-D1 does have a separate folder for housing playlists, though, and all in all, the interface is easily navigable.

When we first turned on the Samsung YP-D1 and popped the included earbuds into our ears, we were initially unimpressed by the sound quality, although with a maximum output of 20mW per channel, the problem lies not with volume. Swapping in a set of Shure E4cs improved matters slightly, since the YP-D1's sound is clear enough, but tweaking the EQ settings (there are 12, plus a user-defined mode) made the music come alive, especially when we used Samsung's DNSe (Digital Natural Sound engine) settings. In fact, you might not need to replace the included headphones, because once you find the right setting for your music, they sound decent, if not entirely comfortable. As it turns out, the YP-D1 is one of the few MP3 players we've used that's made us want to tweak the sound for different genres of music. This could present a problem for audiophiles who like to shuffle between different styles of music and want to hear songs as close to the original engineers' mix as possible, but this probably won't be an issue for other listeners.

In CNET Labs testing, the Samsung YP-D1 offered speedy file transfers of 10MB per second over USB 2.0. Battery testing revealed that the player is capable of outlasting Samsung's 20-hour music playback rating by about an hour; rated video playback is around 7 hours. Check back soon for the final result.

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