Samsung YP-S2 (Pebble) MP3 Player
At a Glance
Samsung YP-S2 (Pebble)
The Samsung S2 Pebble is fashionable, yet hindered by its tricky controls and mediocre sound quality.
The minimalist Samsung YP-S2 (Pebble) audio player is a fun, inexpensive alternative to the iPod Shuffle. But be prepared to spend some time with its manual: The absence of a screen makes navigating this player's many features tricky.
In shape, the YP-S2 resembles a polished stone, which explains its Pebble nickname. It is available in five jewel-like colors: black, white, red, green and purple. The player's ultracompact design (it measures just 1.7 by 0.7 by 1.6 inches), allows you to fit it in your pocket or hang it like a pendant from the included earphones. I can't see the latter style appealing to older (particularly male) audiences, but it is clever.
My thumb fit comfortably in the concave back of the device, where the S2's tactile controls are located. You get standard Play/Pause, Volume, Back, and Forward buttons, plus a smart key for the Pebble's advanced features (such as playlist creation). These advanced features aren't available on competing players like the iPod Shuffle, but using them without the benefit of a screen is a challenge.
To meet it, you'll need to spend some time with the manual. You can use the Pebble's smart key to choose a sound effect (Normal, Studio, or Concert Hall), set a play mode (Standard, Random, or Repeat), create an on-the-go playlist, or delete songs from the player. Invoking each feature involves press a different combination of keys; an LED inside the player flashes a particular color for each one. For example, to create a playlist, you press and hold the smart key until the LED flashes blue during music playback. Then you hold down the up volume key to add the song. The combination of keys and colors is a hassle to memorize, but the playlist feature is handy and unique for a screenless player.
The S2 functions like a thumb drive: You plug it into your PC via the bundled USB cord, and then drag and drop files using either the included Media Studio software or Windows Explorer. The Media Studio app is offers very little in the way of playback and media organization features.
In our lab tests, the S2's signal-to-noise ratio averaged 63 dB (the higher the score, the cleaner the sound). Though this score is significantly lower than the ones registered by most MP3 players we've tested, I found the S2 quite listenable during my hands-on testing. And when I replaced the included earphones with a higher-quality third-party pair, sound improved substantially.
Despite lacking a screen, the S2 Pebble manages to gather an impressive array of advanced features into a minimalist design. And if you'd rather wear your MP3 player as a necklace than as a clip, the S2 gives you a chic way to do it.