The Blade has a very decent music player onboard – and to add to the listening pleasure, it supplies a standard 3.5mm headset adaptor in-box, enabling users to upgrade to better headphones than those supplied, should they wish to upgrade.
The player interface is straightforward and user friendly; tunes loaded up on to the phone or slipped in on a MicroSD card are automatically categorised and listed by the music player software into typical MP3 player headings – playlists, recently added, artists, albums, genres and podcasts (and you can add composers, recently played and most played options from the settings menu too).
No MicroSD card is supplied in-box, though the phone can support cards up to 8GB. If you want to make good use of the media playing capabilities, you may want to buy one sharpish, as the handset has only 80MB of internal storage to play with.
The MicroSD card slot is under the battery, which means powering down if you want to swap cards.
The music player UI is easy on the eye and functional, without having anything as slick or snazzy as the iPhone's Cover Flow trickery. It works easily and effectively though. Cover art is supported, and onscreen timelines allow you to drag back or forwards through tracks, while standard control buttons are large enough for hassle free touch control.
Other buttons enable you to activate shuffle and loop options, plus there are a selection of equaliser modes to try out if you want to tweak sounds.
The supplied headset produces decent quality audio. The two-piece headset plugs in via the multi-connector slot on top of the phone, and the in-ear earphones slot in mid-way. Audio sounds quite detailed and well-balanced, with a good amount of bass, and sounds controlled when the volume's whacked right up.
You can improve on this with better quality eargear – our reference Sennheisers upped the quality, as you'd expect – but the boxed headset does a more than adequate job for casual listening.
The Blade can be synced with Windows Media Player on a PC, using the supplied USB cable. You can also copy tracks over using Samsung's supplied New PC Studio software, or by dragging and dropping in mass storage mode, or via Bluetooth.
MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA and WAV files are all supported. Tracks can also be downloaded over the air from Vodafone's paid-for mobile music service; tracks download in a just a few seconds, thanks to the HSDPA connectivity.
Song identification software is included here, as is now standard on Samsung touchscreen handsets. An FM radio is included too, which is simple to tune and operate using the touchscreen controls. This can be piped through the headset or played via the loudspeaker.
You can also carry out music identification searches direct from the radio; in the same way as for music you hear around you that you want identified, it records a snatch of a tune, which is then automatically sent to, analysed and identified by a remote database. Song details then arrive back at the phone.
Both the music player and radio can play in the background, with widgets automatically appearing on the home screen enabling you to control them from standby mode.
Video content can also be downloaded or sideloaded for playback on the handset. The Blade supports MP4, H.263, H.264 and WMV file formats, although not DivX or Xvid, as some higher end Samsung's like the Pixon and Tocco Ultra Edition do.
The relatively compact display plays back cleanly and smoothly, and is bright and crisp. However, the compact screen dimensions mean it's a relatively small pocket cinema screen.