It was a year ago to the month that we reviewed the Samsung YP-P2, a great little touchscreen MP3 and video player from Samsung, which competed with the iPod touch. Following it up is Samsung's latest and greatest player, the new YP-Q1.
Yes, this is the second product from Samsung to be called the Q1, only this one almost certainly isn't rubbish. It comes in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB capacities and is on sale now. And perhaps most crucial is that you can pick up a 16GB model for under £100.
Gone is the P2's touch-sensitive display. In its place is a much smaller, but no less impressive, 61mm (2.4-inch) QVGA display. Below is a touch-sensitive four-way control pad, a la Samsung's YP-K3. It's extremely sensitive but, while intuitive in its layout, it takes a bit of getting used to since it's easy for your fingers to hit the wrong part of the pad. But hey, it glows blue.
Overall it's a lightweight player that's been designed well, with the typical Samsung black gloss coating a well-constructed chassis. But we must re-emphasise this screen quality: it's magnificently crisp, like a larger version of the smashing display we saw on the YP-T10.
There's a physical lock switch on the right-hand side and a built-in microphone for voice recording curiously set around the back. Our only major complaint is the high gloss black: it picks up fingerprints like it's going out of fashion, and fingerprints have never looked fashionable to anyone.
Inside is support for MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG and protected WMA files. We had no problem playing both purchased and subscription songs from Napster. Sadly, while we applaud Samsung for supporting OGG and the lossless FLAC format, there's no support for AAC or basic WAV files.
Windows Media Video files are supported with 320x240-pixel resolutions, at a range of bit rates up to 768Kbps. It looks great too if encoded well. Windows Media Player can handle file conversion for you, but better conversion software exists if you're prepared to search. No other advanced video formats are supported, unfortunately.
Still, perhaps most useful for British Television License payers, the Q1 supports downloads from the BBC's iPlayer. You need to download the version of a given programme for portable players and then sync it up with Windows Media Player. We had it working instantly in our tests, letting us load hours and hours of BBC shows for the commute. It's a tremendous feature, and perhaps makes up for the Q1's lack of stereo Bluetooth.
Inside as well is an FM radio with the ability to record live to internal memory as 128Kbps stereo MP3 files. Voice can be recorded using the internal microphone, also at 128Kbps (though for some reason you must record for at least three seconds in order to save your file). It's not great, thanks to a high-pitched bit of distortion in the background, but for quick note-taking it'll find the occasional use.
But what it lacks as a voice recorder, it makes up for as a simple, easy-to-use MP3 player. With large clear menus, a super-sharp screen and an intuitive interface, it's arguably as easy to use as an iPod. It's just the ultra-sensitive navigational pad that takes some adjusting to. And we would have loved some tactile feedback in the form of a vibration when items are selected.
Sound quality is, overall, quite flat, and not up to the standard of a Sony, Creative, Cowon or Apple player. We test with WAV files, and felt that the Q1, while certainly more than satisfactory, didn't offer the same raw power or depth as some of the aforementioned players when tested under A/B conditions.
However, if you're someone who considers the rubbish earphones that come with these players to be perfectly fine, you probably won't notice the difference anyway. We recommend a nice pair of sound-isolating earphones if you want to improve the sound quality from what you get out of the box.
Video performance for such an affordable player was excellent, and with the addition of BBC iPlayer support, we were very happy indeed. Yes, better exists if you pay a bit more money, but short form video and video podcasts are perfectly suitable.
This could be the best Samsung MP3 player to date. Not only is it remarkably affordable at £99 for 16GB, but with support for lossless FLAC audio, BBC iPlayer, FM radio, drag-and-drop file management and a cracking little screen, it's going on our list of Samsung successes.
If you want a bigger screen and don't mind sacrificing a few features, check out the Samsung YP-P2. You'll get a fully touch-controlled system and stereo Bluetooth, and BBC iPlayer content is also supported.
Edited by Marian Smith