Samsung P3 MP3 player - First Look

Samsung's latest touchscreen offers the usual array of music, images and video on the go, but should you opt for this model over the competition? We managed to get some hands-on time with the new MP3 player from Samsung at the Consumer Electronics Show in Last Vegas.

If you like buttons, better turn away now as the Samsung P3 is virtually void of them - well on the front at least. The die-cast metal MP3 player that comes in a matte black or silver finish gives you a 3-inch WQVGA 16:9 ratio vertical screen that can be flipped sideways to view video in true widescreen format.

That large screen provides full haptics, giving users physical feedback when using the device, as with previous models launched by the Korean company and while the official blurb states that the new P3 features its EmoTure touch interface to allow for "a more intimate user experience" we struggled to feel the difference over any other Samsung haptic device we've seen in the past.

Under the screen is an invisible sliding panel that allows you to swish through menus without getting in the way of what you are doing on the screen and it's not until you look at the top of the device that you finally find some buttons - mainly on/off, hold and volume.

Also on the top is a built-in speaker so you can share your tunes. It's pretty loud, not loud enough to start a party mind you, but loud enough to annoy people on the bus or train. The speaker is small but it packs a punch.

Other technologies to get your gadget juices flowing include Bluetooth, which Samsung points out will enable you to use the MP3 player as a speaker phone thanks to the built-in mic. It will also let you broadcast your music to Bluetooth speakers to save you getting tangled with wires.

Get past the simple design and you've got Samsung's standard interface to contend with. There are three "desktop screens" which work like Spaces on the Mac. You can switch through these with a glide of your finger across the screen or the area beneath it. The touchscreen is fairly responsive - no more or less than we've seen on previous Samsung touch-enabled devices and therefore fairly easy to use. We didn't experience any issues with its performance in our brief play.

As a closed operating system you won't be able to add further widgets to the User Interface (UI) however you do get a few, such as clocks or weather reports to get you started.

Realising that you're most likely to be using public transport, Samsung has also included underground maps from the world's most popular cities - London included. Loading up the application means you can zoom in and scan what station is where, saving you the bother of having to look it up before you hop on a train. It will no doubt be doubly handy when you visit a foreign city.

As for the music player capabilities, it's all very straight-forward with the ability to do the usual stuff like select tracks via album, artist, genre, etc. Disappointingly there isn't any "Smart" playlist features like Sony's SensMe or Apple's Genius so you'll have to make do with creating your own playlists here.

When it comes to sound, the P3 sounds good. From our brief play on the show floor at the Samsung stand we used a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and Samsung's music-enhancing DNSe 3.0 technology did well to give a good sound - especially on the noisy show floor. Samsung claims to iron out the artefacts introduced by digital compression for a more authentic reproduction of music - whether it does or not will have to be tested further in a fuller review.

Verdict

Small, dainty and easy to use, the Samsung P3 will come in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB sizes giving users plenty of choice.

However while the touchscreen interface was easy to use and the sound good - we enjoyed the speaker as well - the lack of accessories, customisation through apps and Smart playlists is disappointing.

The Samsung P3 MP3 player is due out later this year. No price has been set as yet.