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Review: Samsung YP-U1 Flash MP3 Player

The $99 Samsung YP-U1 makes a valiant attempt to stand out in a crowded market, but ultimately falls short due to sloppy implementation quirks.
When it comes to flash players, it is sometimes difficult to separate from the pack. The $99 Samsung YP-U1 tries, but ultimately fails.

The package includes ear bud head phones, a neck strap and installation CD. The player has 512 MB of flash memory, some of which is taken up by firmware. It is a sleek and attractive black-and-silver unit that sports a small viewing screen -- a big plus. You can use it as either a cheap MP3 player or an expensive USB thumb drive.

You start by loading the software onto your system. This includes a USB driver, firmware updating program, the user guide in PDF format and the Samsung Media Studio software. The latter was, as far as I could tell, completely useless. The software failed to recognize the YP-U1. A quick look at the online help revealed that the YP-U1 was conspicuously missing as a supported unit. That means you can’t use it to transfer files. I could not see any way to import CDs into the software, and it did not support burning CDs. I was left wondering why Samsung included it at all. One other oddity was that the PDF manual defaulted to Dutch, so unless you speak Dutch, it required that you to change the language.

Before you use the player, you need to charge the lithium polymer battery by connecting the unit to your PC’s USB port. For this, Samsung has come up with a clever design by folding the USB connector into the bottom of the player. To access it, you slide back a compartment cover that looks like battery slot, then flip up the USB connector. The connector pivots making it easy to maneuver it into your USB port. Once charged, the battery should, according to the manufacturer, last 13 hours.

To add files to the unit, open Windows Explorer and drag and drop the MP3 files (or data files) onto the unit’s designated drive. There is (thankfully) an on/off switch, although as is the case with many digital music players, it is not clearly marked as such. The menu system is simple and easy to manipulate and allows you to filter down to a single song in short order. In addition to playing MP3s, the YP-U1 comes with a voice recorder, but it has a funny quirk that when you stop recording, the unit shuts down. This may be by design, but I found it annoying.

The USB connector is a clever design, but Samsung needs to realize that the software counts too, and if the accompanying programs confuse people, it detracts from the overall product. The player itself looks great and does the job, but they need to work on the details if they want to rise above the pack.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing