As star of the IFA show in Berlin, the Samsung K5 drew large crowds and led many a tech geek to sleepless nights of sweaty anticipation. Strategically timed to launch just before the year end shopping madness begins, the Samsung K5 will be on many a wish list come Christmas.
At a Glance
Samsung doesn't compromise when it comes to looks, and the latest K5 isn't any different from its other fine gadgets. Sporting a matte black casing with a sexy touch interface, the K5 is literally a portable MP3 player slapped onto a pair of speakers in the most elegant way imaginable; albeit a tad bit plump for a portable digital audio player today. Simply slide the speaker out from under the main player and you get a mini boom box.
And What a Boom Box It Makes!
When our review unit arrived, it was so fresh out of the factory that there wasn't any software provided. But that didn't matter at all as we were pleasantly surprised by the ease of transferring media into the player. Upon connecting the player to our PC (via a proprietary USB cable), windows immediately recognized the device and accessed its folders within, no separate software or sync tools required. The rest was simply a drag and drop affair! Apart from file transfer, navigation on the K5 was a breeze too as the K5 responded well to its touch sensitive keypad. On top of a lag free performance, there was plenty of eye candy accompanying its simple package in the form of cool transitional menu animations.
The audio quality of the K5 is pretty impressive, whether you're using your own earphones or its built in speakers. Firing up the speakers, the K5 is surprisingly loud and crisp, although weak bass and slight distortions (at max volume) are things it suffers from…not surprising for drivers of this size. We also took note of some decent pre-set equalizers such as the DNSe Surround Sound feature that can enhance the experience of listening to the K5 in boom box mode. Sliding out the speakers settles the player down in an extremely well positioned manner – directing sound upwards so that if fits perfectly on your office table while you grind away.
More Features and Nitpicking
Secondary features on the K5 are pretty decent too. It has an alarm clock function which you can set to wake up to your favorite tunes, image slide show supporting JPEG and the indispensable FM radio – all a great bonus to the total package. The only unfortunate thing we could think of was the lack of an audio input, which would have made the K5 a perfect office companion to listen to non-stop. Audio format is limited to MP3 and WMA (compatible with Microsoft's Plays for Sure) though with no lossless format support, putting a slight damper on an otherwise very excellent player.
The K5 comes with a pair of odd looking earphones – or plugs that look uncannily like a pair of mini hair dryers. Close-up, it becomes apparent that they are of a hybrid design – a thin slip of rubber enveloping the earphone directs the flow of music into a sweet spot, and at the same time dampening noise. We couldn't help sniggering at the strange design and preemptively giving it thumbs down until we tested it. To our amazement, the sound quality was on par with some performance retail ear buds! Although the highs and mids can be a little muddy to the trained ear, they definitely carry a rich and deep bass. These stock phones are probably the best ones we have heard in a long time and should be taken into serious consideration when purchasing the K5.
With decent MP3 playback quality, great features like an alarm clock, FM radio, powerful stock earphones, 30-hour battery life (7 hours in speaker mode), and most of all the ability to double as a boom box, Samsung surely has a winner on its hands; in fact we highly recommend the K5 for those who would like to enjoy their music without stuffing their ears full all the time. With the season of joyful carols and sharing approaching, we can already imagine post-Christmas with all the 'thoughtful' sharing of yuletide music on the commute…at full volume. The Samsung K5 is available end-October in 2GB and 4GB capacities priced S$338 and S$438 respectively.