There is no doubt the so-called ‘mp3 player’ / digital audio player market has been over saturated with so many choices and alternatives over the years. While iPods may have become the ‘gold standard’ due to Apple’s raise to fame rather than true performance and reliability. Other brands have had to struggle their way into consumers’ peripheral vision, one way many have been able to do this is by significantly cutting their devices’ price and offer even more features.
If you’ve been following us, you’ll have seen this with the Creative Zen Style 300.
Compared to its predecessor, the U5, the new redesigned U6 has a slick metallic exterior. Available in ‘classic’ colours pink and black. Keys and controls remain largely the same, the play/pause button is not backlit as before.
Towards the left of the U6 is the on/off/lock screen button as well as menu and back button.
While the microphone for voice recording as well as 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the top.
Compared to other mp3 players of the same niche, one of my personal favourite to the U6’s design is the press in, slide out and lock USB port, this has been a long tradition to the U Series’ design right from the beginning. Its an incredibly convenient feature, doubling the U6 up as a thumb drive as well as an audio player.
With the U6’s aluminum metallic frame, it feels firm, sturdy and well built though not scratch resistant. Its lightweight too, weighing just 34g, demonstrating Samsung’s intention to make the U6 as handy and sporty as possible. Round the U6 you wouldn’t find any cheap plastics which all add to the overall impression that the U6 is more than just a budget product that tries to undercut other top brand audio players. The display though is rather disappointing, it may seem large enough and wide to that matter, but in fact when switched on, it’s only a simple, one-inch display (non-touchscreen) – this is known to Samsung as the advanced 4-line LCD display capable of delivering 128 x 64 resolution. It is coloured but nonetheless insufficient for anything more than reading song titles and text menus.
While the Samsung U6 may not have the upper hand to accessing iTunes directly like iPods (though you can do this indirectly of course), we reckon the U6 does put up a decent fight against the new generation iPod Nano in terms of music quality. As you would expect, the U6 does offer music play according to your choice of artist, album, songs, playlists. Unlike an iPod, you can instantly browse music files within its internal memory as well as those you’ve just recorded using its voice recording function (2GB would allow 30 hours of voice recording time while 4GB would provide 60 hours).
With the new 5.1-channel stereo surround sound function, ‘DNSe’ recently changed its name to ‘SoundAlive’. SoundAlive which is a multimedia function within music player provides different sound effects to suit your taste and the type of music you’re playing like an equaliser – but a very efficient one. Choose from vocal, instrument, tweeter, bass, concert hall, normal and auto. You can also set your own EQ. In this case, you can set the 3D and bass in 5 stages and the 7 band EQ to 5 stages. Surprisingly, the U6 provided great clarity, making it difficult to distinguish from that of an iPod Nano or my iPhone. High and low notes were brilliant, while medium notes were rather unremarkable. Bass was exceptionally good for such a small device however, we would highly recommend using an alternative pair of headphones if decent bass is what you hope to achieve.
Without the need to hook up any additional accessories, the U6 has a built in FM radio. This is especially useful during long journeys / flights as the U6 would only be able to keep you entertained for how ever much music you can put in, in our case, we had 2GB. Though you can’t have frequencies programmed, you do still have channel search function. What’s more, if you set the signal reception for to high, the sound quality is as clear as when you listen to mp3’s.
Given the U6 has been designed with the intention to suit sporty users, we believe the sound quality definitely meets such requirement. Fitness mode on the Samsung U6 gives you that bit of extra feature. Tell it the type of exercise that you usually get up to, your daily calories goal and your weight. You’ll then be able to check the calories burnt more accurately. An audio guide also tells you how much you have burnt, this would be particularly useful if you usually jog in the streets rather than in the gym.
If an affordable, simple, easy to use, hassle free mp3 player for going to the gym or relaxation during break hours is what you’re looking for this Christmas and don’t mind the limited choice of colours, the new Samsung YP-U6 is a worthy alternative to more expensive premium devices of its class. Main alternatives we would also consider include the Sony B Series (NWZB153B) Walkman player which is also candy bar shaped, offers a full sized USB port with the quick charge functionality, in addition, the B Series is priced approximately the same at £32 to £39 but offers an added 2GB capacity.
Have a quick glance at what we thought of the new digital audio player in the summary below, overall, given that Samsung has had a fair deal of experience in audio equipment / technology sector, we reckon you can expect to be buying a reliable device that lives up to its brand’s reputation.
- Stylish, metallic body finish but lightweight
- Well built and durable
- Easy to use UI
- Plenty of features in addition to just music player, including radio, voice recording and fitness mode
- Brilliant sound quality, SoundAlive is certainly a feature worth trying out even if you plan on buying other brands
- Connect to your PC directly with its hidden male USB port, just like a thumb drive
- Reasonably priced
- Poor quality headphones
- Small display screen
- Play and navigation buttons not backlit