Sunday, December 23, 2007

Samsung YP-S5, MP3 Player Product Review

Reviewed by Sean - ""

The history of portable MP3 players has already been 10 years since the world’s first portable MP3 player was introduced to the world. MP3 players have evolved a lot since then. Now, MP3 players are no longer a music player. Their features have changed intelligently and conveniently as new technologies are developed. We can’t even imagine how far they will evolve.

I am sure that YP-S5, Samsung’s new mp3 player, would be one of them. I would like to introduce a product review of the Samsung’s YP-S5 model. As I am a normal MP3 player user, I hope this product review is fair, not biased and helpful for you to understand features of the YP-S5 product.

Major changes for YP-S5 from previous MP3 players around the world are the state-of-the-art gift package, practical earphone, simple design, built-in slide-out speakers, Bluetooth support, video support, Datacast support, enhanced sound quality, and easy-to-use user interface and graphics.

State-of-the-art Gift Package
The gift package is made of transparent plastic। Just looking at the package, you can say that the product inside is valuable. Unlike other product packages that are made of cardboard are easy to be thrown away, the plastic carton box of YP-S5 would be one that will be put on a shelf with your accessories in it.

The package includes all the necessary components. Specially, the line-in audio cable enables us to listen to the external audio player through the built-in speakers of YP-S5. The installation CD includes Samsung’s Media Studio, a software application that manages various types of contents such as music, video, lyric, internet contents through DataCast feature in order to be used in YP-S5. The 24-pin USB cable is used both to transfer data between PC and YP-S5, and to charge the built-in battery of YP-S5. However, I am not sure whether a normal 24-pin battery charger used for cellular phones will also work to charge the YP-S5. The manual does not explain about this in detail.

Practical Earphones
Earphones of YP-S5 are designed to be fit in the human ears. I have had so many earphones as other people do. But none of the earphones has satisfied me yet because they do not fit in my ears at all and easily fall off. However, I was surprised that Samsung released an earphone with its products that fits in my ears perfectly. The earbuds looked different from others. It seems that a small protrusion of the earbud keeps the earbud stay firmly in human ears, and keep the sound quality.

The splitter between two earphone lines is also a useful component and prevents the lines from being entangled।

Simple Design and Slide-Out-Built-In Speakers
YP-S5 looks so simple। Other than the 24-pin port and earphone port, there is only one physical button used for power on/off and hold. All other buttons are hidden but operated only by touching the appropriate location on the touch pad below the LCD. The location of the touch buttons and the graphics on the LCD also changes accordingly when the built-in speaker slides out. The speaker unit slides out and in very smoothly. You would feel just like sliding a cell phone.

Although YP-S5 consists of a stereo speaker unit, the thickness of YP-S5 is only 9.6mm. If the speaker unit was not built-in, the thickness would have been only half of the actual size.

Considering the Power button, I wish the button was placed on the right side instead of being placed on the top side. Operating the Power button was not convenient.

Bluetooth Support
I recently bought a Bluetooth stereo headset to utilize the advantage of Bluetooth feature provided by YP-S5। Anyway, I needed a Bluetooth headset। AS instructed in the manual, it was easy to pair the Bluetooth headset with YP-S5। I could wirelessly listen to music and FM stereo radio through the Bluetooth stereo headset. But the video sound did not work wirelessly. I think that the CPU of YP-S5 does not have enough power to decode the video format and Bluetooth function at the same time. The Bluetooth feature is one of the convenient technologies for portable music players since it works wirelessly.

One thing I could not test was to pair YP-S5 with a Bluetooth mobile phone. My mobile phone supports Bluetooth but I could not pair it with YP-S5. I think I need to do more exercise on this, and find out what is wrong. BTW, my mobile phone was not listed on the Bluetooth compliant mobile phone list in the user’s guide.

Video Support
Samsung Media Studio automatically converts a video file to SVI format, the Samsung’s video file format for YP-S5 during download process। As the conversion takes time, you would need more patience if you want to download video files to the player in real time। In order to save time, I would strongly suggest you convert video files before you go to bed or when you have time. The Samsung Media Studio has a feature to do so and turns off PC after conversion. This helps me to watch Heroes, Smallville, and Prison Break series on YP-S5. The LCD is not big enough, but it is still OK to watch videos. I will let this off this time.

Datacast Support

I was not familiar with the term, Datacast. However, I found it a very useful feature. Using Samsung Media Studio, the Datacast feature allows you to automatically receive your interested and updated information from the web, Blog, news, and UCC sites without having you to visit the sites. I could enjoy reading the updated information through YP-S5 instead of reading newspapers in subways when I go to work or when I am not in front of PC.

Enhanced Sound Quality
DNSe is a 3D sound effect that Samsung developed for MP3 players. I could distinguish various sound effects provided by YP-S5 including DNSe. The provided earphones with 20mW and 16Ω also helped enjoying the sound quality.

Easy-to-Use User Interface and Graphics
There are only 7 touch buttons on the touch pad. The seven buttons were enough to browse and navigate all the functions easily. Base on the LCD layout whether displayed horizontally or vertically, the buttons layout on the touch pad also changes horizontally or vertically. Thus, I could recognize which button was the next, left, up, or down button. The button is lit for a while when I touched on the touch pad. This is a good feature. However, I found it needs to be improved. When the light of all the buttons is turned off from the touch pad, sometimes I had to miss-operate buttons since I could not see where the buttons are located.

In conclusion, since MP3 players evolve as new technologies are introduced and support not only playing MP3 music files, but also playing video files, viewing lyric for MP3 contents, viewing text files, playing games, reading Datacast contents (internet contents), communicating with Bluetooth mobile phone and headset (wireless), viewing pictures, listening to FM radio, voice recording, we should name such an MP3 player an omnipotent player in near future.

BTW, in overall, I was quite satisfied with Samsung’s YP-S5 product.
-Reviewed by Sean -

Thursday, December 13, 2007

10 Reasons IT Should Not Support the Apple

10 reasons IT should not support the Apple

The Apple iPhone took the consumer mobile space by storm when it was released last June and quickly became one of the most popular smartphones available। Since then, business users who've purchased the device for their personal use have been requesting that their corporate IT departments support it.

Whether the iPhone proves to be a valuable business tool or a non-issue remains to be seen, but a new report from Forrester Research suggests that the iPhone may never get a chance to succeed in business. Forrester says IT departments should refuse to support the devices--at least for now--for the following 10 reasons.

1) The iPhone Doesn't Allow Data on the Device to be Encrypted

There's currently no way for enterprises to secure sensitive data on iPhones through file or disk encryption, according to Forrester. There's also no way for IT to enforce password policies since the decision to use a password (and when to change it) is up to the user.

2) The iPhone Does Not Natively Support "Push" Corporate E-mail or Wireless Calendar Syncing

Push e-mail (e-mail that is delivered to handhelds immediately upon receipt in a user's mailbox) is an essential feature for a business device because of the productivity such a feature enables, according to Forrester. If users need to physically retrieve messages--as opposed to having those messages pushed directly to them--they won't get them as quickly as possible and they'll waste time in the process. The iPhone can sync with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes over IMAP and SMTP, Forrester says, but IT infrastructure must be tweaked accordingly or a separate gateway product must be purchased and even then mail is delivered only every 15 minutes. Apple's device also doesn't wirelessly sync with PCs, which means users must have access to the company's proprietary USB sync cable to retrieve calendar updates or contact changes, according to Forrester. If a meeting plan or location has been changed at the last minute, an iPhone user on the go could easily not get the notification in time.

3) The iPhone Does Not Run Third-Party Applications Without Voiding Its Warranty

Though Apple has promised a software development kit(SDK) for the iPhone so that external developers and businesses can create their own applications to run on the device, the iPhone does not currently support such applications--unless certain device components are hacked, which voids the phone's warranty. Companies that deploy, for example, sales force automation apps on mobile devices won't be able to port those applications to the iPhone until this issue is resolved.

4) The iPhone Cannot be Locked or Wiped Remotely

Forrester says the single most important feature of mobile device management offerings is remote lock and data wipe functionality, both of which the iPhone lacks. Apple doesn't currently offer any mobile device management software that's anything like the many offerings available for BlackBerrys, Windows Mobile or Symbian devices. Forrester doesn't anticipate any vendors offering such a product before mid-to-late 2008.

5) The iPhone Lacks a Physical Keyboard

The iPhone's touch screen interface and virtual keyboard may be cool, but it is not ideal for power users who e-mail and text message very frequently. The problem with the touch screen is that it doesn't provide tactile feedback, which makes it difficult to type without paying attention to every single key you hit. The faster you can type, the faster your messages get sent out and the more work you can do in a shorter amount of time. That's not necessarily the case with the iPhone.

6) The iPhone Only Functions in Very Specific Geographic Locations and It's Locked Into Carriers

The iPhone is currently only available through exclusive carriers in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, and it's locked to those specific carriers. That means that business users who travel internationally can't use iPhones in any other countries, even if those countries offer networks that are technologically compatible.

7) The iPhone is (Very) Expensive

The iPhone sells for double what the average BlackBerry or Treo costs. At $400, plus voice and data charges, Apple's smartphone is one of the priciest such devices on the market, even after a $200 price cut last fall. Corporations seeking mobile devices often consider price a selling point, especially since many device makers or carriers offer business discounts and service plans. Apple and AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier, don't offer any such discounts for business use.

8) The iPhone Is a First-Generation Device

No mobile device is perfect when it's initially released. In order for handset makers to refine their products, they often rely on their masses of users to highlight their weaknesses. Some of the iPhone's weaknesses are, according to Forrester:
-- it can be difficult to activate quickly-- battery life is weak/short-- sound quality is less than impressive-- it's currently only a 2.5 generation device, which means that data transfer speeds aren't as fast as they could be
The next iteration of the iPhone will likely address these issues. In fact, AT&T's CEO recently said a 3G iPhone is due in 2008.

9) Apple Doesn't Offer Replacement Batteries for the iPhone

Apple doesn't currently offer battery replacements for the iPhone, so users cannot carry backups to ensure that they never lose power। Forrester says that third-party vendors will likely begin to offer replacements in the near future, but because the device needs to be disassembled in order to remove a battery and insert another, the replacement process may not be simple enough for less tech-savvy users.

10) There's No Proof That iPhones Are Suitable Business Devices

The only large enterprise that is known to fully support iPhones is--surprise, surprise--Apple, according to Forrester. And it hasn't published any case studies or other support materials. Enterprises often make mobile device purchasing decisions based on the experience of their peers or industry analysts' recommendations, but with such information lacking about the iPhone, Forrester says it won't likely be making its way into many businesses anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Samsung YP-U3

A basic MP3 player does not need to be ugly or featureless to fall into the "simple and inexpensive" category, and Samsung's stick-like U3 provides the proof to that statement. The 2GB flash MP3 player offers a cute design, a simple user interface, and a handy plug-in design. Sure, it may not have a color screen or video support, but it has the best of basic music playback in spades.

It's hard not to see a pack of gum when first looking at the U3. At 11 x 25.4 x 80mm, the thin, rectangular player looks strikingly like a six-stick pack of Doublemint; well, our green version did, anyway. The device is also available in black, blue, or pink versions (all with 2GB storage). The face of the U3 is almost entirely smooth but for the indent of the 1-inch monochrome OLED screen, which sits to the left of the touch-sensitive control pad. Here, you get track shuttle and volume keys, which alternately act as directional arrows within the menus, and a back selector. Continuing around to the right edge, you'll find a thin, retractable USB adapter, which can be popped out via a switch on the bottom side of the player. This area also houses a hold switch, a highly necessary feature in a device with touch-sensitive controls.

Samsung includes a clear belt clip with the U3, which can be snapped onto the back of the player. Other notable physical features line the edges of the U3. On the top side, there's a play/pause/power button and a record/user-defined key. The left edge comprises a standard 3.5mm headphone jack surrounded completely in opaque plastic, which houses a blue LED that indicates if the player is on or syncing. This combined with the brightly colored, texturized body gives the U3 a cool, designer look--it may not appeal to everyone, but it's certainly not ugly.

We like that the U3's earbuds match the body color of the player, and that Samsung threw a cable wrap into such an inexpensive package.

The Samsung U3 is predictably light on features, given its price and body style, but it does offer some handy ones. It supports MP3, OGG, ASF, and WMA files, including DRM 10 for subscription music. Music is arranged handily by artist, album, genre, and so on. You get standard shuffle and repeat options, a nine-band user equalizer (EQ), and DSNe sound effects, which consist of 13 preset EQs. There's also a built-in mic for making voice recordings and an FM tuner with autoscan and at least 15 preset slots. If the Samsung U3 disappoints in one area, it's sound quality. Although the sound settings help to fill in the low end and tailor tunes more to your taste, we found that music came across a bit flat, even through our Shure SE310 test headphones. It didn't have the richness or warmth we like, and we noticed some odd feedback during quiet moments on a couple of tracks. That said, the U3's sound is certainly passable; the clarity was quite good overall, and it gets plenty loud--it really is a great player for the gym. The rated 15-hour battery life ain't bad, either.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD), is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of the world's leading consumer electronics, personal computer and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson)। The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. This extra capacity combined with the use of advanced video and audio codecs will offer consumers an unprecedented HD experience.

While current optical disc technologies such as DVD, DVD±R, DVD±RW, and DVD-RAM rely on a red laser to read and write data, the new format uses a blue-violet laser instead, hence the name Blu-ray. Despite the different type of lasers used, Blu-ray products can easily be made backwards compatible with CDs and DVDs through the use of a BD/DVD/CD compatible optical pickup unit. The benefit of using a blue-violet laser (405nm) is that it has a shorter wavelength than a red laser (650nm), which makes it possible to focus the laser spot with even greater precision. This allows data to be packed more tightly and stored in less space, so it's possible to fit more data on the disc even though it's the same size as a CD/DVD. This together with the change of numerical aperture to 0.85 is what enables Blu-ray Discs to hold 25GB/50GB.

Blu-ray is currently supported by more than 180 of the world's leading consumer electronics, personal computer, recording media, video game and music companies. The format also has broad support from the major movie studios as a successor to today's DVD format. In fact, seven of the eight major movie studios (Disney, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) have released movies in the Blu-ray format and five of them (Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) are releasing their movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. Many studios have also announced that they will begin releasing new feature films on Blu-ray Disc day-and-date with DVD, as well as a continuous slate of catalog titles every month. For more information about Blu-ray movies, check out our

Blu-ray movies section which offers information about new and upcoming Blu-ray releases, as well as what movies are currently available in the Blu-ray format.