If you thought the Samsung YH-925 was little more than a colour version of the Samsung YH-920, well, you were right. It's somewhat less, having lost key features such as an FM radio, a docking cradle and a wired remote. Plus, it's still stuck at 20GB -- Samsung has yet to offer a model with more storage. Sound quality and battery life haven't improved either. On the other hand, the YH-925 offers the best interface this side of the iPod, and it supports a wealth of audio formats, including secure WMA, Audible and Janus subscription services. It also lets you upload photos directly from compatible digital cameras -- not bad for a colour player that sells for as low as £179 from many online vendors.
Like its greyscale predecessor, the 770g Samsung YH-925 packs everything into a slim but slightly long case. Its 46mm (1.8-inch), 160x128-pixel screen looks bright and colourful -- perfect for viewing photos and navigating menus. The menus themselves remain a marvel of simplicity, as do the player's controls. Admittedly, the large four-way control pad lacks the panache of the iPod's scrollwheel, but it makes for extremely easy operation.
To make a voice recording, you just slide a switch on the side of the player and start talking, then flip the switch back when you're done. Regrettably, voice notes can be recorded only as 32Kbps stereo MP3 files, while line-in recordings -- which also encode directly to MP3 -- are limited to 160Kbps. Support for higher bit rates would be welcome, and so would the charging cradle that came with the YH-920. All that's left is the proprietary Y-cable that splits between USB and AC connections -- not ideal for travel.
The Samsung YH-925 accommodates Windows users like few other players. It supports not only MP3, WMA and DRM-protected WMA files but also Microsoft's PlaysForSure spec and Janus subscription services such as Napster To Go. The latter required a firmware update, but installation went quickly and smoothly.
The YH-925 relies on Napster's eponymous software for music management. You can also drag and drop songs to the player, but if you don't install Samsung's driver first, they won't play. Napster is an attractive, full-featured program, and the integrated to-go service represents a decidedly tempting alternative to iTunes. For £9.95 per month, you can fill your player to the brim with songs from Napster's million-plus library. The YH-925 will also work with the more affordable Yahoo Music Unlimited service.
To view photos on the player, you'll need the included Multimedia Studio utility. It automatically converts batches of photos to the proper size and downloads them to the player. Inexplicably, however, the Samsung YH-925 can't play slide shows on its own -- you have to create them first in Multimedia Studio.
Playlists are another story: you can easily create one right on the device just by holding down the Select button for any album, artist or track. Alas, Samsung hasn't fixed the last model's bugs -- when you add an artist to the playlist, only a few random tracks actually show up. And when you add an album, songs are listed alphabetically rather than in their native order.
The bigger problems, however, are sound quality and battery life. The Samsung YH-925 lasted just under than 10 hours in our battery tests -- better than we expected, given the addition of a colour screen, but 5 hours less than the latest iPod. What's more, as with the YH-920, many of our songs sounded ragged and hollow. Something about the player sucks the warmth out of music. And some of the settings actually introduce distortion, so fiddling with the equaliser and SRS settings just makes things worse. At least music transfers were impressive, coming in at a brisk 4.3MB per second over USB 2.0.
If you're less interested in fidelity than you are in a low price, as well as compatibility with lots of music stores and services, the Samsung YH-925 doesn't disappoint. But we think Samsung should work on correcting the player's flaws before introducing a YH-930.
Edited by James Kim
Additional editing by Nick Hide