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You'll have already seen the score for the Samsung Galaxy Player, so you're probably wondering what's wrong, considering nothing on the previous page was that bad.
Most of the time, at least on the model we tested, the Galaxy Player is unusable. By that, we don't just mean that it's a bit slow or awkward. It spends the majority of its time crashed when you try to launch apps, or even when you just wake it from the lock screen. It's unusable in the sense that you are completely unable to use it.
The most ridiculous thing is that it works fine sometimes. On those occasions, getting around the Android Home screens and menu is exceptionally fast. Opening an app is like a game of Russian Roulette, though.
Will the notifications bar bring everything to a standstill? Will your email inbox simply fail to load? Will the Maps app cause a totally blank screen? Connecting to Wi-Fi can cause it, as can plugging in earphones.
The worst part about these crashes is that they don't fix themselves quickly (as they almost always do on iOS, for example). You're simply left hanging until the task manager finally catches on and gives you the option to force close things. This can take 10 or 15 minutes sometimes, and still isn't guaranteed to get everything back on track.
The Android Market is almost certain to make the device crash whenever opened. What should be the Galaxy Player's major selling point was totally useless. It crashed the operating system nearly every time, and even when it did load, we couldn't install any apps.
We were told there wasn't enough space on the device. Checking the settings told us that there were zero bytes available in Program Data Memory, which is ridiculous whene there's 6GB of internal memory that could be used and we had an 8GB microSD card installed.
Sometimes, the crashes got so bad we had to restart the Galaxy Player, and when you did, it forgets your settings! Every single time we turned the device off it forgot all of our email inboxes, our synced Google accounts and our Wi-Fi passwords.
On the plus side, the Music and Video apps crashed far fewer times, but the music player slowed right down a few times, which is just as bad. Music quality was on a par with the iPod touch, but it supports a far wider range of codecs, including MP3, AAC, OGG, WMA, WAV and more. It's the same story with video, with MPEG4, H.264, H.263, WMV, DivX and Xvid all supported.
Our music was spotted and sorted easily enough over drag-and-drop, though you can use Samsung's Kies software if you want an iTunes-style option.
The SoundAlive equaliser mode is a nice idea, but trying to move a load of sliders when the device is barely responding is a recipe for frustration.
Video playback is generally smooth, and the screen is nice and bright, but the low resolution means that everything will inevitably look pixelated.
If a video doesn't fill the screen natively, you can make it bigger. However, instead of enlarging and cropping it, in the way Apple's devices do, it simply gets stretched to fill the space, meaning you really have to watch it in whatever the original aspect ratio was.
As far as the internet goes, the Galaxy Player is quite slow to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot, but the browser is as fast to render as Android always is. No Android 2.2 means no Flash 10.1, but Eclair still has some great internet capabilities.
Alas, the usual Galaxy Player restrictions come into play. When it's working well, panning around and zooming on websites is smooth, but then it starts misbehaving and you might as well write into TechRadar using snail mail asking for the latest news, and we could write out the contents of the site by hand and post them back before you'd get anywhere with the Galaxy Player.
The two-megapixel camera has a fair few options, as well as a video recording mode. However, the quality is generally pretty low, as you can see on the the picture and video sample pages. Video recordings are 15 frames per second at a resolution of 320 x 240 allegedly, but when we played it back on our PC our software said it was 478 x 358.
There is the option to geotag photos, but that would depend on the GPS chip working, which it didn't for us. At all. Not once. Which also made the Maps app quite a bit less useful.
The Samsung Galaxy Player 50 has a nice build quality that makes it really very light. It feels plasticky, but we don't mind that. It's still incredibly solid.
The price is pretty good, especially considering the opportunity for microSD expansion. Even if you got the 16GB and a 32GB card, you couldn't match the 64GB maximum offered in the iPod touch range, but you really pay for that kind of storage. Add in the fact that there's a GPS chip and some other handy features and we think Samsung is aiming in the right area.
The software is simply appalling. Frankly, if you tried to use this implementation of Android 2.1 to show someone how Google's OS can match Apple's iOS on non-phone devices, they'd laugh in your face (it also still frequently mentions 'your phone' in menus and alerts). How can it be that Android is so good on Samsung-made phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S and Google Nexus S, but so bad here?
It may be £40 less than the iPod touch, but if it's only going to work a third of the time at most, it needs to cost a third of the price at most. It's the very definition of false economy.
With the Market refusing to install apps (if it even runs), it also loses the ability to stand up to Apple on expanded functionality.
The screen is even lower quality than the original iPod touch, let alone the new one's Retina display. The size is also getting a bit small for it to be any good for internet browsing – we reckon 3.5 inches is the minimum to be comfortable, though you may not mind this.
The gulf in quality between this and the iPod touch is incredible. There's simply no reason to choose this over any other PMP, even if you really want the expandable storage. It barely functions, and you never know how long its grace will last even if it does work.
Frankly, if you want to go Android, buy an Orange San Francisco (for £50 less!) and just use it without a contract. Otherwise, do your sanity and blood pressure a favour and get an iPod touch.
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