Physical and electrical design
The Samsung YP-U2JXB has 512MB of flash memory, but like all flash-based players, due to partitioning limitations and system overhead the actual capacity is somewhat less.
While thin, the YP-U2JXB is fairly sturdy -- mine has already survived being dropped once. It's capable of taking everyday (and not-so-everyday) wear and tear.
I really like the fact that the USB adapter is integrated into the device -- you just plug it into the computer with no need for extra cords or cables. That plus the small size makes the YP-U2JXB look much like an early USB flash drive. It's small compared to the YP-MT6, probably because the older model was powered by AA batteries instead of the internal rechargeable power source on the YP-U2JXB. The size also makes it more convenient to hold in my hand.
Instead of a joystick for player control, the YP-U2JXB uses buttons. I particularly like the fact that the play button is on the top of the device instead of on the panel where it would be more likely to get bumped carrying it in my pocket.
The file structure is completely different on the YP-U2JXB than it was on the YP-MT6 that I had before it. The YP-MT6 was just like a regular flash drive that you could add music files to at the root level, and it would play all of the ones that the device was compatible with. The newer YP-U2JXB has a much more organized file and directory structure, with separate folders for data and music and an autogenerated XML file to keep track of where things are.
Putting it to the test
In Windows XP you can't add non-music files to the music folder on the YP-U2JXB, but you can add them to the data folder. In Ubuntu Linux 6.06, however, it is treated as a standard flash drive. To test the device I plugged it in and it popped up in GNOME as a mounted drive containing the YP-U2JXB's hidden system files. I added a few music and non-music files for testing purposes, then I unmounted it. The device booted up normally, re-evaluated its database to categorize the new files, and generated a new XML file list. On average I could fit about 125 MP3 songs on the player.
There is one feature that I can neither classify as a like or dislike of the machine: it is quieter than any of my old disposable battery-based players. At first this was a godsend, having been using a malfunctioning device that seemed to be trying its best to blow out my eardrums. It annoyed me when I tried to use the YP-U2JXB as a component with a tape adapter in my car; I had to turn up the car stereo volume, which in turn distorted the audio. I can understand, though, why the volume was lowered -- to prevent hearing damage and to extend battery life. Having grown up with a grandfather who was forced to use himself and his colleagues as guinea pigs during research on hearing loss for the allies during World War 2 -- and his later hardness of hearing -- I had been raised to keep the volume down and wear hearing protection to loud concerts. I could see the low volume being an annoyance to anyone who wishes to blare their music, but I personally think that it's good they can't.
There are several drawbacks to the YP-U2JXB. The first and foremost is the lack of battery life. It gets about 15 hours of play time, and is rechargeable from any USB computer. This presents a problem for someone like me who faces a week-long recovery from surgery in the hospital -- there won't be an opportunity to recharge the device. It also rules out use for backpackers and others who would like to take their music into the wilderness for a few days.
The second complaint I have is the lack of OGG/Vorbis support. Since discovering OGG/Vorbis capability with my last Samsung player (the implementation was botched on the iRiver), I had found I could re-encode my MP3 music at a lower bitrate in OGG/Vorbis while having equivalent sound quality at about 2/3 of the original file size. That extra space for music was very nice. I am sure that Samsung could have squeezed the free codec into the firmware. I know I would happily give up a meg or two for a 30% song capacity increase.
The last feature that bugs me is the position of the headphone jack. It is located on the side that faces down when holding the screen towards you. Having it stick off the side is awkward and it tends to get the cord caught on things. Another thing that annoyed me is that I was unable to completely turn off the backlight.
Conclusions and developer recommendations
I have never trusted hard drive-based players as I am something of a klutz. The Samsung YP-MT6 had served me very well, even surviving a night soaked in a puddle in my car's door during a rain flood. Sadly, it was left unusable by the same thing that killed my previous player -- an iRiver -- the joystick failed. In the iRiver the joystick broke completely off; with my previous Samsung player, the sensor beneath it began to misfire, constantly raising the volume to maximum and not accepting commands to do anything else with the joystick, even though it still had play and spring in it. That made me decide to go with an entirely button based player, and the YP-U2JXP was a great choice as a replacement.
Overall the features outweigh the drawbacks. The rechargeable battery has already saved me from having to get another set of AA batteries, which adds to the overall value of the device. The best point of all is that I could get a GNU/Linux-compatible digital music player on the cheap. All in all, as a semi-broke, non-audiophile college student this player fit my needs perfectly.
- OGG Vorbis support. I would love to get a firmware update to correct this oversight, as it would give a net gain in song capacity.
- Move the Headphone jack to the end opposite the USB plug. This would help streamline the player and avoid snags.
- More battery life. The player is extremely light, I doubt it would matter much if the battery was increased in size.
|Device||Digital music player|
|Device support||One USB 1.1/2.0 port for connecting to a computer, one standard headphone jack.|
|Market||Price-conscious consumers, people who don't want hard drive players|
|Price (retail)||US ~$62 (Buy one from Amazon.com)|
|Product Web site||Click here|