Samsung shows tiny audio players

Samsung Electronic is unveiling new digital audio players, which the company claims are the smallest of their kind.

The two models -- the YEPP Digital Audio Player YP-T5H and the YP-T5V -- are each about 2 inches by 1 inch by 1 inch, and weigh under an ounce without a battery. The devices are the "smallest with an LCD and tuner," says Mark Farish, Samsung's marketing manager.

Of course, the way this industry works, we can expect that they won't be the smallest for long.

As the devices require only a single AAA battery, power won't add much to their weight. Samsung estimates that one of these players can run on one battery for up to 15 hours. The 128MB YP-T5H will list for US$130; the 256MB YP-T5V, for US$180.

Tuning out ITunes

Both YEPPs can play .mp3, .wma, and .wav files. To keep the players up-to-date, they come with upgradable firmware that will allow Samsung to add support for new formats.

The players support songs downloaded from MusicMatch and the new Napster, but not from ITunes.

Why is Apple Computer left out? According to Farish, "We don't want to support ITunes at this time."

Both players also come equipped with a built-in FM tuner.

Other features

However you get your music, Samsung is using SRS Labs' WOW technology to improve the sound. WOW uses psychoacoustic tricks to fool your ears into hearing deep bass, even when your speakers or headphones can't accurately produce it.

Samsung also managed to fit a microphone into both players, so you can use them to capture your ideas on the fly or record other sounds.

Like other Samsung audio players, the YP-T5H and -T5V's LCD can display the lyrics to the song you're listening to -- if your tastes are conventional. The players come with software that you can install onto your PC, to let them link up to an online lyric database similar to the Internet's well-known CDDB, but not as extensive. Farish estimates that the database now contains lyrics for "Close to 100,000 songs," and admits that these are mostly "top 40 songs; popular music."

The players can also work as USB 2.0 storage devices, though if storage is all you want, there are cheaper alternatives. A quick check of PC World's Product Finder showed 256MB flash drives as low as US$43.

Speaking of cheaper alternatives, Interactive Media's Kanguru Solutions also is announcing its own flash-based audio player/recorder/portable storage, the Micro MP3 Pro. Close to 4 inches long, Kanguru's offering isn't as small as Samsung's new players, and it lacks the tuner and some other options, but it is significantly cheaper per megabyte. Kanguru's 256MB version lists for US$130, the same price as Samsung's 128MB model.

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