Monday, January 21, 2008

Bluetooth and the Samsung P2

That last few years I've moved all my CD music onto a hard drive, and been exploring how to have easy access to it no matter where I am. Of course that implies putting it on a portable device, so I've been looking into the options there.

I started with a nearly free little MP3 player that uses SD cards with a 2 meg limit. It's only play option was "shuffle", and with no display I found it pretty useless. Yes, it would play music. No, you couldn't choose which of the songs you put on it would play or in what order.

I went in to buy an iPod Nano but bought an iPod Touch instead. Amazing piece of technology. I don't use it much for music, though, as it's main distraction is the wifi web browser and web applications that are available. It also must be parked in a dock or have earphones plugged into it, and those are two negatives in my book. No FM radio either. 8GB capacity isn't quite large enough to hold my entire collection.

I bought one of the new Zunes with an 80GB hard drive. Like it alot. It has an FM radio which proved incredibly useful in the recent ice storm power-outage. Not an easy interface. Compared to the Touch, it takes more than twice as many clicks or strokes to get to business with. It too has to be parked in a dock or used with headphones.

Last week I added the Samsung YP-P2 8GB touchscreen mp3 player to my collection. It has built-in bluetooth and I think I'm in love. I took a trip to BestBuy yesterday and picked up bluetooth adapters for my iPod and Zune docks, a Bluetooth transmitter/receiver for my home stereo and a receiver for my car. I've had a bluetooth headphone set for awhile. The P2 easily pairs with all my docks, adapters and headphones. Instead of parking the P2 in a dock, I park it in my pocket. As I walk around my house, the bluetooth tranmission connects to whichever device is in range, and the music continues playing in the new room. I get in my car and the music starts playing on on the car speaker system. If I'm trying to be discrete, I put on the bluetooth headphones.

Now the P2 doesn't have the best interface. It is better than the Zunes, but not quite up to the simplicity of the iPod Touch screen. Still, this little player from Samsung is by far my favorite player, thanks to it's built-in bluetooth radio. I picked mine up when it was on sale through Amazon for less than $200. Samsung has promised to keep improving it with firmware upgrades. I've upgraded it once since getting it. It's got a beautiful screen, with crisp video resolution (480x272), close to the Touch (480x320). The Zune is lower resolution. The P2 is smaller and much lighter than the touch. Neither is hard to carry around, but to add a bluetooth dongle to the Touch or Zune would make them much more cumbersome. There are teasers on the internet showing a sleek add-on device for the P2 that would add wfi, FM transmission, and an SD card slot to expand memory. If they add wifi and a web browser to this little player, I'll sell my Touch. You can use the stereo bluetooth to transfer files, transmit audio, and potentially allow a bluetooth keyboard/mouse for input and bluetooth printing. I've seen bluetooth used to share internet access too, and wouldn't be surprised if they enable that feature eventually.

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