The Samsung Q1 (YP-Q1) digital media player is so boring and frustrating that I don't want to spend any time giving it my full review treatment. Instead, I'd like to share some of the photos I originally took for the review and talk about what I think Samsung did wrong when designing the flash-based player.
Full specifications of the YP-Q1 can be found in the product database.
It's not all bad
Now before I'm accused of being a Samsung hater or a fangirl of another DAP brand, let me say that I own five other Samsung players (clockwise from top left: S5, S3, K3, Q1, P2, P3) and that the S5 and P3 are among my all-time favorites.
Let me also quickly list a few of the YP-Q1's highlights:
Sound quality. Samsung's DNSe 3.0 audio enhancement technology and the three custom myDNSe modes–which allow users to customize a 7-band equalizer, 3D surround sound and bass boost levels, soundstage, and clarity–provide the Q1 with sound quality that would please just about everyone. I use a pair of Ultimate Ears triple.fi 10 Pro canalphones and though my ears may not be as discerning as a hardcore audiophile's, myDNSe makes a notable difference. Without any enhancements, sound quality is just okay with the triple.fi, though better than average with less expensive headphones.
User interface. The Q1's UI features the same colorful icons and a lot of the same functionality as you'll find on the Samsung P3. It doesn't support Flash, UCIs, or touchscreen gestures, of course, but it's still aesthetically pleasing, straightforward, responsive, and easy to use. There are three menu styles to choose from, but the vivid matrix (above) is the one I like best.
Build quality. The design may not appeal to everyone, but build quality is undeniably good. Even though the player is made entirely of hard, glossy plastic, it feels incredibly durable. The casing doesn't creak or flex when squeezed, and it just feels really solid.
It's just mostly bad
All right, so sound quality, the user interface, and build quality–three of the most important elements of a DAP/PMP–are three things that the YP-Q1 does well.
So what's wrong with the player? A number of things.
Model name. The most minor issue I have with the device is its name. Samsung already makes a line of Q1 UMPCs, including the original Q1, the Q1P, the Q1 Ultra, and the new Q1EX. Even though the company uses the NP and YP prefixes to differentiate between its UMPC and DAP/PMP products, it's still ridiculous that "Q1" is being reused. You don't see Sony coming out with Bravia PMPs, Apple releasing PC-iPod computers, or SanDisk announcing Sansa cameras.
Touch controls. Infinitely more critical than a bad name are bad navigational controls. Without a usable set, a good user interface goes to waste. This is sadly the case with the YP-Q1, whose touch controls are unintuitive and misleading.
Because although the diamond-shaped area looks like a touchpad that functions like an optical mouse, it's actually just the same old touch buttons Samsung has been using since at least 2006:
Sure, the arrangement of the icons is different and the touch buttons are "hidden," but the controls are exactly the same.
So rather than being able to run your thumb across the entire diamond pad to scroll or move around, all you can do with the pad area is use it like a big OK key. The corners of the pad (the parts that light up) are just the directional arrows. That's why the newly unveiled Samsung YP-Q2 looks the way it does. If you ask me, Samsung should have skipped the Q1 altogether and just gone straight to the Q2.
No volume buttons. The YP-Q1 isn't the only DAP/PMP to not have dedicated hardware buttons, but there's no reason for the omission.
It's not like the player is too thin to accommodate a volume rocker or doesn't have enough space on its sides. On the contrary, the entire left side and top of the YP-Q1 are completely "blank."
All it has is a power/hold switch on the right side, proprietary connector and headphone jack on the bottom, and reset and mic holes on the back.
No touchscreen. All DAPs and PMPs don't have to have touchscreens, of course, but the Q1's 2.4-inch colorful display and finger-friendly UI kind of beg to be touched.
Since the Q1 basically uses the same interface as Samsung's two touchscreen players, the P2 and P3, and the controls are so shoddy, I constantly find myself tapping the screen. Being able to touch an icon would be so much faster than having to tap-tap-tap the "directional arrows" disguised as a touchpad.
No Bluetooth. Again, not all DAPs need Bluetooth to be taken seriously. But when a company like Samsung, who was among the first to add Bluetooth support to a media player and who also doesn't reserve the functionality for its flagship devices (even some of its lower end devices have it), the lack of Bluetooth on the Q1 is an oversight.
Ordinary features. In the oversaturated DAP market, it takes more than just a glowing touchpad, a few games, an FM radio, and some subway maps to stand out. The YP-Q1 brings nothing new or even interesting to the industry.
There's no compelling reason for anyone to choose it over something else.
Samsung has something of a track record for releasing new products simply for the sake of releasing them, though, so maybe the YP-Q1 is just further proof of the company's MO.
The 8GB Samsung YP-Q1 can be purchased in black or white for $127 from Warehouse123. A 16GB model is also available.