on 28 October 2010
There are two software packages that allow you to control the contents of the YP-R1: Windows Media Player and Samsung's own EmoDio. Neither is very satisfactory to use, with EmoDio being the worse of the two, feeling very half-hearted and even half-finished. I tried transferring my iTunes files into EmoDio and despite the fact that they are not protected and the R1 supports the format, it won't accept them, nor does it provide any errors to explain why. This means re-converting my whole library all over again.
The YP-R1 itself is a very fine little gadget: simple and attractive it packs a lot of technology into a small package. In fact it packs in a hell of a lot of technology - I'm not even going to try to list everything it can do, just pick out some of the high points.
The supplied earphones are very nice and provide great sound for bundled earphones, though they do appear to be very fragile. The data cable uses a proprietary connector, which means you'll have trouble updating the R1 on the go, unless via Bluetooth.
The screen is both large and small; large compared to an iPod Nano, very small compared to an iPod Touch. Being Samsung, the image is colourful and bright, but it does lack in resolution, being only 400x240 pixels. This is not a problem for watching videos, which look great, but for anything involving text it is only just adequate.
There are only 3 physical buttons; a power button that doubles as a screen lock, and 2 buttons for volume. This makes controlling music playback a little fiddly, because you have to turn on the screen and tap around with your finger. The screen is already a little small, but the playback controls are tiny, so quickly changing track becomes a bit of a chore.
In fact just about everything on the tactile screen feels like a chore because all the interface elements are so small. Samsung have obviously been inspired by Apple in designing the interface, but the screen's dimensions aren't up to the task. The interface comprises multiple pages of icons and widgets that you change via a sideways swipe. Icons are links to "applications", while widgets are little helper objects (such as a light bulb for controlling the screen brightness). This sounds very high tech and cool, but the tiny screen just makes it a bit of a pain to use whereas nice, clean, large icons would have been so much better. The look of it all is also discordant and a little childish.
The YP-R1's best features are, as expected, audio and video playback. I directly compared the music playback between the Samsung and an iPod Nano and the R1 definitely has a richer, fuller sound. In fact the iPod sounds brash at similar volume levels and I'd much rather listen for long periods using the R1.
Video playback is top notch, with support for a wide number of formats. I transferred some videos encoded for TV playback to the R1 and despite their size it played them back smoothly and without fault; no lag, jitters or dropped frames. I don't have the cable needed to output to TV (which is an OPTIONAL extra, it is not supplied in the box as per the Amazon product page), but from this demonstration I'm sure the results would be great.
Having a built in FM radio is already a plus compared to Apple's devices, but as an extra you can even record from it. There is a function to scan for presets, but it has never found any channels, so I can only tune manually. Reception is surprisingly good.
The thing that has really shocked me about the YP-R1 is the abysmal autonomy. With just music playback I get maybe 6-8 hours of battery life. Start watching videos or do anything else that keeps the screen on and this plummets to only a couple of hours. For a device that tries to do so many different things, the lack of autonomy renders all those extra functions moot - you don't dare use them because they'll suck the life out of the battery. And this is for a brand new, out of the box unit, after a few months the battery performance will be even worse. The R1 being a sealed unit you can't even carry a spare.
I'm in two minds regarding the YP-R1. I want to like it because it does everything you could want of it; it looks cool, is small and light and plays back all the file formats you could want it to. But the user interface is fiddly and messy and the battery life means you have to charge it up every day without fail. Samsung's lacklustre software support is not encouraging either. A lot of the web links I've tried either go nowhere or default to Samsung Korea (and I don't read Korean).
Only the audio/video quality makes the R1 stand out, so I'd recommend using that as your deciding factor for purchase. That, at least, shouldn't disappoint.
Audio: Mp3, wma, ogg, asf, m4a, aac, flac
Video: Mpeg, avi, wmv, asf, svi, mp4, m4v, rm, rmvb, mov, smf
Photo: Jpeg, bmp