As Apple’s iPod continues to dominate the personal media player market, competitors are trying just about everything to get some market share from new form factors to new features like the odd Wi-Fi sharing in Microsoft’s Zune. One new entrant is Samsung’s YP-K5 personal audio player with built-in speakers!
The K5 costs $210 for a model with 2 gigabytes of memory (about 500 songs’ worth) or $260 for a 4-gig model. That’s roughly $50 more each than the corresponding iPod Nano models. Is Samsung out of its mind?
No, because the K5 has a very big ace up its sleeve: built-in speakers.
Held in your hand, the K5 looks like a black triple-thick iPod Nano (3.8 by 1.8 by 0.7 inches). It turns out, though, that it’s that thick for a reason: what looks like a shiny black slab is actually two slabs, ingeniously connected by a sliding hinge. When you push against the edge, the halves slip apart; the previously concealed bottom half reveals a silver speaker grille. At this moment, the K5’s screen image rotates 90 degrees, so that the display is upright when you set the whole thing down on a desk or table.
In that position, it looks like a cross between a teeny tiny laptop and an itty bitty boom box.
Because that’s what it is right now: a boom box.
And the surprising thing is that the speakers apparently aren’t bad at all, although you aren’t going to rock the house with them.
Even so, these are the best one-inch speakers you’ve ever heard — much better than, say, the music-playing cellphones that pass for audio equipment these days. There’s enough power to fill a room with background music, for example.
Other features include an FM tuner, spiffy display and controls, and a built-in alarm clock. Yes, you can have the K5 wake you up with your preferred tunes. One thing to note is that while battery life is rated at 30 hours with the ear phones, it is reduced to 6 hours with the speakers on which I still don’t think is too shabby.
Pogue ends up a little bit ambivalent about the K5, but Gizmodo and CNET have quite favorable reviews and everyone gives Samsung credit for thinking outside the box. I tend to think of the K5 as achieving music sharing the old fashioned way without the disappointing Wi-Fi rigmarole implemented in the Zune.