The device's ergonomic five-way control pad makes navigation a breeze (and reminds us of the Rio Carbon). We love the large, center select button, which is nicely indented. However, we're not as crazy about the buttons located along the device's right spine. While the play/pause/power key is fine in this location, we'd prefer to have the Back and Menu buttons located on the front, as it can be tough to hit the correct buttons on such a thin device. Also, the Menu key is a bit misleading: it only pulls up only contextual menus from within the various playback screens (with different options for music, photo, and video), rather than taking you back to the main menu. Once you get used to this, though, it's OK. The context menu during audio playback allows you to quickly set EQs, Play Mode, Play Speed, and background (either album art, your own images, or pulsating graphics.)
We dig the photo organization, too. Rather than offering a standard thumbnail grid, the YP-T9 photo display shows you a larger photo preview box, bordered by three thumbnails. Another impressive touch: the player automatically sets the screen in landscape mode when you start a video. Transferring content is also a snap. Simply use the included Media Studio software or a WMA jukebox, such as Windows Media Player or Rhapsody. (Note: you'll need to use Samsung's software to transfer video, as it automatically codes video into the proprietary SVI format supported by the YP-T9.)
The YP-T9, which plays MP3s and WMA files, certainly isn't hurting for features. The only things missing are line-in recording and Mac support (as the YP-T9 is an MTP device). Of course, we'd love to see gapless playback. The YP-T9 does have an FM tuner with autoscan and 30 preset slots--we were pleased to note that the autoscan did an excellent job at picking only the strongest stations, though you can still tune in to weaker stations if you choose. The FM recorder can record up to 192Kbps in MP3.
The player also has a built-in microphone for voice recording and even includes a couple of simple games: Baseball and Pizza Delivery. And true to the Samsung legacy, the YP-T9 offers a ton of audio playback features, including the standard shuffle and repeat modes, and 12 EQ presets--Normal, Rock, House, Dance, Jazz, Ballad, Rhythm & Blues, Classical, 3D-User, 3D-Studio, 3D-Stage, 3D-Club--and a nine-band user EQ. The unit also includes a volume limiter feature. Finally, there's the Street Mode function, which "allows you to enjoy the music outdoors more clearly," according to Samsung. The only thing we really noticed while in this mode was a volume boost.
Other than navigational lags--a split second when shuttling through menu items and a noticeable delay when skipping tracks--the YP-T9 performed excellently in our tests. It can be tough to browse through a long list of tracks, though you can scroll backwards (a list is essentially a loop, so you can start from the top of a list and search from the bottom up.) Photos looked bright and were well-defined on the color screen, and video looked great--so good that we might even consider viewing a 30-minute short on the small screen. Music sounded fabulous with rich mids, clear highs, and a defined low-end. We recommend swapping out the included earbuds, though, as they get uncomfortable quickly. amsung also managed to pack in a decent battery. CNET Labs squeezed 25.9 hours of music out of the rechargable cell, which is less than the rated 30 hours but impressive nonetheless. At just more than seven hours, video battery life proved to be excellent as well
Even with the slight processor lag, the YP-T9 is a joy to use. With good looks, a user-friendly interface, an excellent array of features, and great sound quality, this is a hard device to pass up.