Samsung YH-820 iPod Killer?

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Samsung YH-820 iPod Killer?
Software, Installation and Testing

Product: Samsung YH-820 5GB Digital Audio Player
Provided By: Samsung Canada
Price: Est ~ $300CDN.

Introduction:

The world is going portable and gadget crazy.  A couple years ago, MP3 players started to take off.  The initial models were large, slow, clunky, and didn't offer a lot of storage.  Since then flash media has come a long way and now Flash-memory based digital audio players have increased in size and speed, as well as dropped in price.  You can pick up 1GB flash-based devices for less that $300CDN.  But what if you want more?  Mini Hard Drive players have traditionally been very expensive.  Apple started it all with their original iPod, and have gained popularity with all of their different models.  Today, Samsung enters the mini HDD digital audio player market with the YH-820.  This beauty holds 5GB's of data and can not only play back MP3, WMA and more, it can also display your digital photos, and act as an external hard drive!  Keep on reading to find out more!

First Looks:

The Package

A Very Nice Bundle

Front View - Off

The YH-820 comes in a package that requires major efforts to get open.  But once you get it open, what a find!  In the package you get the player itself, a Quick Start Guide, Manual, Software CD, USB/Power adapter, belt clip, earphones, and an audio in cable.  The software CD contains Napster (yuk!) and the Multimedia Studio for putting pictures on the player.  The controls on the YH-820 are very simple.  Your main skip forward/back buttons and play button lie just under the screen, and your menu navigation control pad sits just below that.  The up and down arrows on this pad control the volume.

Before we go any farther, let's take a look at the specs of the YH-820 according to Samsung:

Specifications:

  • 5GB, 1" HDD (Super Slim) with Color LCD
  • Windows XP compatible only for Picture Viewing
  • Windows XP compatible only
  • 1.6" CSTN Color LCD (65K color) at 128 x 96 Resolution
  • ID3 Tag Update Software
  • MP3, WMA, Secure WMA, Janus Upgradeable, Ogg & JPEG Playback
  • Voice Recording
  • USB 2.0
  • Rechargeable Battery (Li-Poly)
  • Over 8 hrs. playback time

Unfortunately, they are not kidding when it comes to Windows XP only.  The only way to get music stored on this device and available for playback is through Windows Media 9 or greater using the "Sync" feature, or through Napster.  The device is detected as a removeable mass storage device, and you can store data on it, but in order to play the music or view the pictures, it must be synced with the included software.  To me this is a major drawback, but when you look at the major competition - iPod - iTunes is required to upload and download your music.  Somehow hardware manufacturers are strapping themselves in for a ride with software companies, and this sucks for you and me.  It would be so much nicer to simply drop your music onto the YH-820 into the "Music" folder where it goes anyway.

Closer Look:

The YH-820 feels very solid.  The case is made of aluminum and plastic, and it also ships with a thick plastic half-case and belt-clip.  I've worn this to work a few days, and it feels very solid.  The top of the unit is very simple.  It has a standard headphone jack, a mini-stereo jack for recording MP3's from an external source, and a hold button.  The right side simply has a single record button that can be used for voice recording or recording via the line input.  The bottom of the unit has a funky interface connector that allows for both file transfers and charging the device.  The included cable is a "Y" cable with one end going to the device, the other end to the USB2.0 port on your computer, and the last end plugging in to a power outlet.  This allows the device to be charged whenever you sync files.  It's a shame that a power outlet is required to charge the YH-820, as the voltage input is a mere 5v.  However, the current is listed at 1000mA.  There is no way that USB can provide that much power.

Top View

Record Button On Right Side

Bottom Shot With Grommet Removed

It's hard to appreciate the size of the YH-820 or the quality of it's display.  The unit is about the size of a credit card, and only about .5" thick.  The screen is 1.6" and displays up to 65K colors with a resolution of 128x96.  The pictures below, don't do it justice as they have been take from about 3" away.  When the pictures are dropped onto the YH-820 using the Multimedia Studio software included in the bundle, they are automatically resized to the displays resolution of 128x96.  At this resolution you could store literally thousands of pictures at the same time you have 1000+ songs stored on this device.  There is enough storage to go around for sure.

Now Playing . . .

Viewing Photos

Now that we've taken a close look at this unit, lets head on over and take a peek at the software then run through some tests.