I said it in the preview and I’ll say it again – Apple may get all the props for industrial design, but Samsung has really stepped up to the plate to show that they can produce designs that are every bit as pleasing. Samsung has gone with a solid black casing, which, in my opinion, looks more mature and professional than the iPod Touch.
The device’s chassis is mainly made up of two large components, a plastic covering over the front of the device and a solid metal backing. Fit and finish is excellent with absolutely no creaks or flexing of the player. Despite being a NAND flash-based player, it does have some heft to it, weighing in around 85g. For comparison’s sake, the Samsung T10, which is slightly thinner and 1cm narrower weighs only 40-odd grams.
The front of the Samsung P2 is dominated by the 3″ 480×272 pixel resolution widescreen touchscreen. It does not support ‘multi-touch’ functionality seen on the iPhone or iPod Touch, but does support some swiping gestures, which Samsung calls ‘Emoture’ finger-gesture control.
As a result of the rather large display, the device is fair-sized, not nearly as small as something like the iPod Nano. On the other hand, it has a smaller footprint than the iPod Touch and even the Sandisk Sansa View, which has a much smaller 2.4″ 320×240 display. Needless to say, it’s quite a bit smaller than the 5G iPod that it’s replacing.
While numerous people that I’ve shown the player to have automatically attempted to use the status LED as a button, it serves no purpose aside from indicating, well, the status. When charging, it will glow red, until fully charged, at which point it turns a solid green. When the backlight turns off during usage, it will periodically flash blue to indicate that the device is on.
There are four physical buttons on the device, two along each spine. The left side holds the power button (which doubles as a play/pause button) and a hold switch. On the right side, there are buttons for increasing and decreasing volume. Hardware volume keys are appreciated – there’s no need to navigate to the Now Playing screen in order to change the volume.
At the bottom of the device is the headphone jack, the dock port, and a mic. Currently the mic serves no purpose as Samsung has not enabled the voice recording feature in the firmware the device was shipped with.
Although far from conclusive, the Samsung P2 seems far less prone to scratches than my 5G iPod. So far, there has been no scratches to the front or back of the device. Granted, I don’t throw my gadgets around, but this is a marked improvement over the scratch-magnets that were several generations of iPods.
I’ve used an iPhone and was amazed by the utter smoothness of the touchscreen user interface. So, when I watched hands-on videos on the Samsung P2, I was slightly wary. More than a few noted a ‘lack of sensitivity’. This was the main fear I had about the device before purchasing one. I’m glad to be able to say the problems are no where near as bad as I initially feared.
The main issue the hands-on videos had was the user was treating the device as an iPod Touch or iPhone. Instead of the single tap, it takes a double-tap or a press-and-hold finger action to select a menu item. The first touch activates the indicated item, and the second touch actually initiates the action. Of course, Samsung could release a new firmware that would overcome most of the ‘issues’ faced by some users. Once you realize that’s it’s a double-tap to perform actions, there are minimal problems.
As stated earlier, the touchscreen does not support anything like ‘multi-touch’ but does support some finger gestures. In particular, scrolling through menus can be accomplished by swiping the finger up and down in lists. Unlike the iPod Touch, this scrolls across a single screen of items, and thus the number of items scrolled through is not related to the speed at which you perform the gesture. Additionally, the up/down gesture can be used in the music player to increase or decrease the volume. Swiping left and right in photos, videos, or the music interface will skip to the next or previous item. It may seems a little counterintuitive at first (swipe from right to left to advance a track) but just think of it as how you would read a book – to advance, you turn the page from right to left.
Although many people hate touch-based devices, I have no problems with it, assuming the functionality is well-implemented. For me, nothing can quite match the ability to just simply point at something. While the comparisons to the iPod Touch are inevitable – a comparison it doesn’t do terribly well in – the Samsung P2’s touchscreen nonetheless works very well. Plus, with Samsung’s promise to unlock new touch features and improve the touch usability, I think we can look forward to some interesting functionality.