At a Glance
Samsung YP-T9JQB 2GB Portable Media Player (1.8", 6 Hours Video)
The YP-T9JQB is easy to use and offers many features, but its audio quality fell a little short of the competition's.
At $125 (as of 1/9/07), the Samsung YP-T9JQB is an affordable alternative to the iPod Nano. It's small and light, fits easily into your hand, and has a smooth, attractive surface. The model we tested comes with 2GB of internal flash memory, but a 4GB unit is available for $180. Unlike the Nano, the T9 has a built-in FM radio for when you need a break from your own sounds, and a built-in microphone for recording voice memos.
The four-way navigation control and select button on the front are easy to operate with your thumb. Dedicated buttons on the side include controls for quickly accessing menus, playing and pausing music, and recording from the microphone or radio. The buttons are relatively easy to reach with your right thumb, though their tiny labels are hard to read.
I found the 1.8-inch LCD screen--which has attractively animated menus--bright and easy to read. You wouldn't want to watch a whole movie on the 208-by-176-pixel screen, but you can likely enjoy watching short videos. The screen is certainly brighter and sharper than the OLED screens used by several rivals, such as the Creative Zen V Plus, though constant use is likely to drain the battery faster. Like most flash-based players, the T9 has a lithium-polymer battery that you recharge from a USB port when you hook it up for syncing.
The T9 is PlaysForSure Audio certified, meaning that it can play Windows Media files encoded with Microsoft's digital rights management system. That gives you a choice of online music stores for downloading songs, including Napster, Rhapsody, Wal-Mart, and Yahoo. While it plays regular MP3 files, it doesn't support other formats, such as Ogg Vorbis.
The T9 comes with Samsung's Media Studio software for uploading music to the player, but Windows Media Player also works well for syncing. Because the T9 supports only the MPEG-4 video codec, you must use Media Studio to transcode other formats for watching on the player. However, you usually benefit from reduced file size as the software fits the video to the small screen's resolution. You can view JPEG images on the player and, while you're listening to music, display the album's cover art.
In our audio-quality tests, the T9 earned a rating of Good. It produced especially clear sound at high volumes and performed well at reproducing a wide range of frequencies. However, we measured very high levels of noise in our distortion test, and the T9's signal-to-noise ratio was below average.
The built-in equalizer lets you adjust the sound to your taste. You can choose from 11 presets, and customize a nine-band EQ.
For such a neat little player, the Samsung T9 comes at a very competitive price. It's a shame that the audio quality falls short in a couple of areas.