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Home > Gadget Reviews > Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6 and Galaxy Player 4.2

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Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6
Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2

Editor's rating (1-5) Galaxy Player 4.2: rating starrating starrating star
Editor's rating (1-5) Galaxy Player 3.6: rating starrating star
Manufacturer: Samsung
Discuss this product

What's hot: All the Android smartphone goodies minus the phone.

What's not: Slow single core CPUs, Galaxy Player 3.6 screen is poor.

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Reviewed June 6, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Dedicated portable media players aren't dead yet, and we have a feeling as long as Apple still sells the iPod Touch in decent numbers competitors will continue to offer alternatives. Samsung's line of Galaxy Players are dedicated media players that run Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread and effectively offer everything you'd find on a low to mid-range Android smartphone except the cell phone. The Players are perfect for kids who keep borrowing your smartphone to play games, view websites and check email and social network messages. If you're one of those folks who refuses to give up your feature phone but you want some of those smartphone goodies, the Galaxy Player could be for you. It's WiFi-only and requires no contract or data plan.

Samsung Galaxy Player

Both players are made of plastic, and the Galaxy Player 4.2 has a gloss piano black back that adores fingerprints. The Player 3.6 is understated gunmetal gray. Neither looks particularly chic or unique. They have a 3.5mm headphone jack (earbuds included), a micro USB port for charging and data transfer (MTP and mass storage are supported for media transfer), volume controls and a power button. The battery is removable.

Samsung Galaxy Player

Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2

The Display is Key

Not too long ago we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0, and now Samsung has two new smaller players, the $199 Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2 and the $149 Galaxy Player 3.6. The numbers indicate display size, and the screen is the significant differentiator between the two. The Player 4.2 has an 800 x 480 LED backlit display that's similar in quality to what you'd find on a mid-range Android smartphone. The Galaxy Player 3.6 is HVGA 320 x 480 resolution with a TN panel. While the display size difference between the two models isn't huge, the quality is: the 4.2 has a pleasing looking display while the 3.6's TN panel is grainy, has poor viewing angles and seems to scintillate if you move it a tiny bit. Do your eyes a favor (and your kid's): don't get the Galaxy Player 3.6. That $50 you saved over the Galaxy Player 4.2 will come back to haunt you in eye doctor bills.

Samsung Galaxy Player

Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2

What's Inside? Low Octane But Good Enough

Both players have identical internals. They have a 1GHz single core CPU, 8 gigs of storage, a microSD card slot compatible with cards up to 32 gigs, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 and a GPS. They have front VGA cameras for video chat and a rear 2.0MP camera. Each has a 1500 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's user replaceable and they come with a charger, microUSB cable and stereo earbuds with inline music controls.

Samsung Galaxy Player

Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2

 

Though they can't make calls over the cellular network, they can make VoIP voice and video calls using Skype, Google Talk and other Internet-based calling apps. Likewise there's no SMS since there's no cell radio, but there are third party Internet-based apps that offer SMS services. It's very unlikely the Players will get an upgrade to Android 4.0 ICS.

 

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Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6 and Galaxy Player 4.2 Video Review

Gaming, Web, Email and Multimedia

Like Android smartphones, the Galaxy Players come with the full suite of Google Android apps including the web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Store (formerly Andoid Market), Maps and Google Books. Samsung includes their custom music and video players and the pair can handle video up to 720p resolution in MPEG4 and DIVX formats. They run Android OS 2.3 with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface and come with Quickoffice for viewing MS Office documents. You can upgrade the Office suite if you wish to edit and create Office documents. The Players can handle Gmail, Pop3 and IMAP email and you can download Adobe Flash Player for Flash video playback. Given the slow (by today's standards) CPU, Flash Player controls are balky, though video streaming itself works fine with a decent WiFi connection.

Despite the very rapid upgrade of Android device CPUs over the past two years, most games are still optimized to work well on single core 1GHz CPUs like that of the Galaxy Players. The Galaxy Player 4.2 comes with with Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, which played perfectly well, as did FIFA 2012 and Angry Birds. Unless you're a serious 3D gamer looking to play the latest TegraZone titles, these media players should tide you over for your basic gaming fix. If you do want to play cutting edge 3D games, you'll have to look to Android smartphones for better CPUs or consider the iPod Touch.

Video playback was smooth on both devices up to 720p (1080p video gives an incompatibility error), and sound through headphones is pleasing with good bass, clear trebles and a good sense of separation. Samsung's sound through the headphone jack has always impressed me and it's richer than the iPhone and iPod Touch.

The Galaxy Player 4.2 looks like a miniature Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, with two tiny stereo speakers flanking the display. The separation and front-facing position make for improved sound, though quality is still thin and volume is similar to that of a smartphone. The Galaxy Player's single speaker fires from the rear but it actually sounds almost as good as the 4.2. Honestly I wouldn't use the built in speakers for serious music listening on either device, they sound too tinny.

WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS

The Players have single band WiFi 802.11b/g/n that worked reliably in our tests with good range. They have Bluetooth 3.0 and support common profiles like A2DP stereo and HID. Both can function as pocket GPS devices and they come with the usual Google Maps and Navigation. You can install third party navigation applications as well, but remember you'll need to download map data to the device or a microSD card to use them in the car unless you have a portable WiFi hotspot or use your smartphone's Hotspot feature to provide a wireless connection for the Player (if you already own a smartphone, chances are you're not in the market for a media player!).

Conclusion

The market for portable media players is shrinking in the US, but for those of you with kids or feature phones, they still make sense. The Samsung Galaxy Players give you all the joy of an Android smartphone minus the cellular radio and monthly data charges. Though these lack the gaming horsepower of the latest iPod Touch, they do offer Adobe Flash Player and Android's openness and customization. Personally, I'd splurge for the Galaxy Player 5.0 or Galaxy Player 4.2 if you're buying this for yourself or a teen. I'd stay away from the Galaxy Player 3.6 due to its poor display quality.

Price: $149 for Galaxy Player 3.6, $199 for Galaxy Player 4.2

Website: www.samsung.com

 

Samsung Galaxy Player

Above and below: Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6

Samsung Galaxy Player

 

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Specs:

Display: Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6: 3.6" capacitive multi-touch display. Resolution: 320 x 480, supports both portrait and landscape modes. TN display. Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2: 4.2" capacitive multi-touch LED display, resolution 800 x 480.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1500 mAh.

Performance: 1GHz single core CPU, 8 gigs internal storage.

Size: Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6: 2.45" x 4.52" x 0.38", 3.74 ounces. Samsung Galaxy player 4.2: 2.6" x 4.89" x .35", 4 ounces.

Camera: VGA front camera and rear 2MP camera with LED flash.

Audio: Built in speaker (stereo speakers on Player 4.2), mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0.

GPS: Has GPS and Google Maps.

Software: Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread with Samsung TouchWiz software. Full suite of Google Android apps including web browser, email, YouTube, contacts, calendar and Google Play Market. Quickoffice viewer, Samsung music and video player, bundled games, voice recorder, calculator and more.

Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot.

 

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