Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0 Review [Video]

November 2, 2011
39

Any casual tech observer knows that Android power more than just phones, like tablets, netbooks, and on occasion actual androids. But Samsung's Galaxy Player 5.0 seems like a gadget in search of a problem to solve. Ostensibly a competitor to the iPod Touch, albeit one that's built at a plus-sized scale, this Wifi-only media player may be music to the ears of those who want a huge screen and no phone contract (or, indeed, a phone at all) to worry about.

Hardware

If you've seen a Galaxy S, you've seen a small Galaxy Player. The 5-inch LCD screen dominates the front of the device, with three capacitive soft buttons below it - as usual with Samsung's carrier-free devices, the Search button is absent. The placement of some of the buttons and ports seems odd - an empty MicroSD port hides behind a tiny plastic door, while the headphone jack and Micro USB port are on the bottom. The right side gets Samsung's standard power button and volume rocker combo, the left is bare, and the plastic white back features two stereo speakers, a the camera, and a flash.

The 9.9mm-thick device is undeniably large; it dwarfed my DROID X and makes a standard paperback book fear for its dead tree delivery system. That said, it's not uncomfortable in the hand as it might seem, and it slid into the pocket of my jeans without complaint. (Your mileage may vary here, of course.) When showing the device off to some of my friends they said they preferred the large screen to their own phones and didn't mind the bulk - until I told them it couldn't make regular phone calls.

On the inside you get a last-generation 1GHz Hummingbird processor and 8GB of storage. That should be enough to play a few videos and some music, but large collections will have to be loaded off of an SD card. The LCD (notably not AMOLED) screen has a resolution of 800 x 480, despite its massive size. While it's crisp and clear, and a good bit brighter than most, those with an affinity for counting pixels will be unnerved, as you can definitely see jagged edges on text and photos when viewed up close. The Galaxy Player ruins Gingerbread and has full access to the Android Market. A 3.2 MP rear camera is complimented by a VGA front cam, but neither are worth writing home about. The 2500 mAh battery should last days for light browsing and music, but video and games are of course more taxing.

Software

TouchWiz is present in full force, and like most Gingerbread devices, it's smooth and mostly stable. I did notice some freezes when returning to the homescreen, and if you ask me, the whole experience apes the iPho... er, iPod Touch a little too much. Thanks to the device's Wifi-only status, it's blessedly free of bloatware.

There's plenty of custom Samsung apps here, though, and for the most part they're welcome. Customized video, music and photo apps are there, along with Samsung's Smart Viewer TV sharing app. Other than that, it's just your basic Android apps, with the odd addition of a file manager and a link to Samsung's approved app downloads. This is in addition to the Android so I don't know why you'd use it. A Swype keyboard is included, but the huge screen makes it almost impossible to use with a single hand, especially in landscape mode.

The device itself is only mostly stable. Nine times out of ten worked without complaint, but every once in a while I encountered a nagging hang on one app or another. This is a troubling precedent for a device that's designed to be loaded with apps, especially games. The Galaxy Player has an odd way of mounting the SD card, too: all the free space on the device is in the standard /sdcard folder, but anything on the actual card has to be found in /sdcard/external_sd/. Luckily, the automatic scanner is nice and fast, so media loads into the appropriate app very quickly.

Media

The Music and Video players were simple and competent, though the later is picky about codecs. AVI and XVID videos worked fine, but a downloaded trailer in the relatively universal MOV format choked. It'll handle anything formatted for its 800 x 480 resolution without complaint, but once I threw a 720p video on there, there was too much tearing and stuttering for it to be useful. Music was an enjoyable experience on the standard player, especially since controls are built into the notification bar and lock screen. It's a wonderful music playback device made even better by a pair of loud, if not particularly clear speakers.

Unfortunately some of the advanced playback was wanting. Flash is iffy on the 1GHz single-core processor, and I imagine Flash video is something that prospective buyers will be very interested in. When I connected my Bluetooth A2DP headphones playback was too choppy to be enjoyable. Netflix and HBO GO stuttered for a passable experience only. Basic games were fine, but more advanced games slowed down quickly.

Price and Value

At $270, the Galaxy Player 5 is considerably more than the entry-level iPod touch. For that you get a much larger device with a larger screen, but the resolution and storage are both lower. Since Android doesn't have an integrated music store (yet) you'll have to make due with your own collection or third-party apps, and streaming video is a frustrating affair. It's hard to recommend the Galaxy Player over an iPod for anyone but the most die-hard Android fan.

Wrap Up

The device is a lot less unwieldy than you'd think, and for some, it might be time for a 5-inch upgrade - but again, without a phone, the Galaxy Player 5 is a novelty at best and redundant at worst. Bring on the Galaxy Note, Samsung - I want to see how this form factor works on current hardware with a truly mobile experience.

Check out our hands-on unboxing video below:


[device id=1975]


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  • http://twitter.com/white_shadow001 Zach White

    honestly I will get one because I can’t stand having an iPod touch anymore

    • Anonymous

      The ipod touch is old garbage compared to the Galaxy Player.

      • Rryskamp

         Before you get one, be advised that with the updated operating system (Gingerbread 2.3.5) The internal compass no longer functions correctly. This means that apps like Star Finder and Google Sky are essentially useless. No fix for this bug is in sight. This problem has been in existence for awhile. Maybe  ios is better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dj4money Anthony Thomas

     Thanks for the review. The fact that it comes from a major manufacturer (Samsung) and is available locally (unlike a majority of Archos Media Players). Though I enjoyed the review I have some complaints that are really starting to bothered me about technology and people’s expectations.

     With Video Playback you said it handled AVI (MKV I assume) and Xvid/Divx fine but not MOV. I wouldn’t call MOV or Real all that commonplace. In fact I know of few streaming or video downloading sites that feature either format. You know there’s is life beyond Apple’s I-Tunes which I am growing to not like everyday and use Media Monkey or Windows Media Player for basic playback. I Tunes’ problem is it doesn’t handle 12″ versions or Remixes well, I had to use Tune Up and that helps a bit.

     The simple fix for this is to use the device inside its parameters. I understand your concern around Netflix and HBO2GO, I assume the videos you watched were in HD and likely higher than 720p. My understanding is that this does have video acceleration of Flash video so this is likely just a glitch that can be fixed with an update.

     My major quibble with the player is that its Bluetooth stack like in Samsung’s 7″ WiFi-Only Tab is crippled preventing tethering to your phone. No chance of avoiding getting a smart phone if you want the internet like you experience at home. That really stinks, this is something Archos has offered on its own media players. The problem is, they only offer resistive touchscreens on the too small 3.2″ and 4.3″ players, even if they are cheaper.

     More research is needed.
     
     

    • http://www.hdflvplayer.net/ Html5 player Download

      “More research is needed.” – Yup, ofcourse………….. right @ tom!

  • Spark55155

    You say “the Galaxy Player 5 is a novelty at best and redundant at worst”.   You are obviously biased, because I believe the opposite.  You have to stop clinging to the same old reference points.
     
    You act as if the Touch is permanently ensconced on some throne, but if there was ever a time for the Touch to step down, it is now.
     
    I think the 4 and 5-inch Galaxy’s are game changers – these are the new reference points.   Put the 3.5 inch Touch next to a 4-inch or 5-inch Galaxy players, and there’s no way anyone would want the Touch, other than for brand preference.  The micro SD slot alone on the Galaxy devices is an irresistible plus. The Galaxy Players have 2 speakers, the Touch, none.  And with the android app “PowerAMP”, forget about it.  The glass on the Galaxy devices is the kind that resists prints (somewhat), and the screen res is better, it looks better to me, side by side.  You don’t see pixels or jagged lines.   For web browsing, on the 5-inch Galaxy, in landscape mode, you can see regular websites in their entirety, and headlines, zooming in, of course, to read, but the text realigns itself so there’s no left-right scrolling, which is a nuisance with the Touch.   Although the Touch allows internet browsing, it’s not really well suited for this – obviously!
     
    I used the 7-inch Acer Iconia for a few weeks, which provides a “gorgeous”, full page website experience (without defaulting to the “mobile” version of websites), quickly reformatting pages when zooming in, allowing even the finest changes to text size, but it actually gets a little heavy in the hands after 15 or so minutes, my thumb would get “pins and needles” so I had to prop it on something.  So this limits its portability, if only a bit.  I like to walk around my house while browsing the internet.  So, the weight of the Acer was bothering me, even though I absolutely loved it’s super crispy, vivid, sharp screen (if only it was a little thinner), so for true, hand-held web browsing, while being pocketable at the same time (thanks to it’s thinness), if that is a priority, the 5-inch is it.  And synching the Touch is a BIG hassle too, whereas the Galaxy units are just drag n drop, another irresistible plus.  So going from the Touch to the 5-inch Galaxy Player seems a no-brainer.  Everything you can do with the Touch, you can do with the Galaxy, and more.  I’m actually thinking of selling my Touch on eBay.  
     
    I own both the 5-inch Galaxy and the iPod Touch.  Yes, it is like a bigger Touch.  But that’s not a trivial matter.  My Touch basically sits in a drawer.  Why is that?   I only use it to check the weather, which it does very well using the Accuweather app.  What’s funny is, with only incremental increases in screen size, how much more USEFUL the devices becomes, but not just in terms of bigger text.   Reading needs to be enjoyable, not just possible.   As a music player the Touch only merits an OK.  I don’t even use it as a music player because it’s too big to carry around.  Even though it’s “portable”,  I want things to be “pocketable”.  And the Touch is actually too big, in my opinion, to be pocketable, at least compared to the Microsoft Zune, the small, 8gig version, which defines pocketability.  The problem with the Touch is that it’s overly cute.  People bought it, originally, as an iphone substitute, and there were no other options at the time.  And people buy it now because it’s an Apple.  If the 5-inch Galaxy was available when the Touch came out, I would have opted for the 5-inch Galaxy from the start.  I don’t mean to contradict myself, but it’s as “pocketable” as the Touch (neither one being truly pocketable, so what’s the difference?).  If something isn’t truly pocketable, size becomes a moot point, so let’s make it at least big enough to really enjoy a website, right?  There’s a concept!  Apple didn’t get that when they gave us the Touch.  The Microsoft Zune is truly pocketable, which is why I prefer it for actually carrying around my music (and recorded radio shows, which it autoresumes, a hard-to-find feature).  So in conclusion, the Touch is NOT better than the 5-inch Galaxy, or even the 4-inch Galaxy.  I mean, how is the Touch better, other than brand loyalty gone mad?   I would give the 5” Galaxy Player  to an adult as a gift, but not the Touch.  The touch is arguably useless, in light of either the 4 or 5-inch Galaxy Players.   There are even 8.9 and 10.1-inch Samsung devices.  So pick whatever size is good for you.  Samsung has the right idea.  Regarding music files, a major feature of the Galaxy Player, I recommend Amazon MP3 for easily previewing/purchasing MP3’s or playing your own tunes (or storing on the “cloud”).   Also check out 7Digital and Mp3 Music Download, which provide free previews AND downloads, and PowerAmp, all free and available at the Android Market.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MWAVQTBXDBOISEMIRPEPDBUI3M D S

    First as a tech head, let me say that I have, 4 different blackberries (weapon of choice), 3 different androids, 3 different tablets and about 8 different pmp’s (itouch, ipod, 2nd 1st gen zune and touch screen zune included).  I have actually have the samsung galaxy player 5.0. I got it 2 days ago for a geek squad exchange for a archos5 imt that I had bought about 2 years ago. The swap was free since I purchased the 2 year protection plan and they no longer carry archos devices in store and online for the most part. I’ve been putting it thru the wringer for the past 2 days and I must say that this definitely sounds like a biased review. I’ve had 10 co workers ask to play around with it and 9 of them are selling their itouchs asap and are going to buy this device. and I don’t even want to begin how many stares, broken necks and demos that I have been giving to people on the train and bus rides to and from work. Surprisingly the biggest complaint is that it’s NOT a phone. It is a tad bit on the large side, especially if you compare it the hummer of them all, the droid X, but apparently size does matter and people are willing to sacrifice for more touch screen real estate. The galaxy player5.0 in short is a baby galaxy tab 1st gen (the 7 inch tablet) that sammy first came out with a year back. No dual core but its 1ghz hummingbird processor definitely gets the job done. Any pmp device or smartphone or tablet and soon tv that isn’t made by apple will always be compared to the equivelant apple idevice and that’s just how it’ll always be until they are no longer at the “top dog” position that they have worked their way into. But as I have always said about apple and ios, it’s a company that has made a system that works for corner cutters, people looking for the short cuts, that dont want to have to think too much about how it’s gonna get done, so long as it gets done, and there is nothing wrong with that. Most of us want to do as little work with the least amount time spent. Only thing with that, you’re gonna have to take it however they give it to you whether you like it or not. While google and android on the the other hand are more like the “swiss army knife” for the person that doesn’t mind or wants to get their hands dirty. Especially if it means that in the end, it will look, function and be done exactly how they want it, when they want it. Its not a question of which is better, its a question of which will do what you want it to do, and it’ll always be to each his own when that question is answered.

    • Anonymous

      You say, in reference to the Galaxy 5″, “It is a tad bit on the large side”.  Do you mean when you’re holding it and viewing a webpage you wish it were smaller, or do you wish it were smaller when it’s in your pocket?   When I’m viewing a webpage, I want it to be as big as possible, whereas when I’m NOT holding it, i.e., it’s “put away”, it’s size becomes, basically, a moot point, as long as it fits somewhere in the area of “portable”.       Ideally, a device would shrink to an invisible point when it’s not being used, and expand to, say, have a screen size of at least 6 inches for browsing the internet.   A compromise would be something that fits in your hand with a screen big enough to browse the internet without excessive zooming and scrolling (i.e., the biggest thing you could hold in 1 hand for at least 20 minutes without the hand getting tired).  Anything that satisfies this will also easily fit into a purse or bag that you’d already have anyway and not require a separate bag or case just for the device.    The problem with the Touch is that even though one wouldn’t carry it around all day long, it’s design is based on a device that WOULD be carried around all day long and which therefore needs to be small, but this was done out of convenience.  Since the Touch is used more for browsing than the iPhone, it should have a larger screen.  The 2nd gen Touch should have at least had a larger screen, like the Galaxy 5” does.  There’s no reason the Touch and iPhone have to be twins, that’s strangely misguided.  Now that one can get the Galaxy 5” with a phone feature, both the iPhone and Touch are basically, at this point, merely cute.

  • Rekingston

    I have the iTouch and the Galaxy Player S wifi 5.0. The screen on the 5.0 is fantastic. But it is not as portable as the iTouch. There’s the trade off for me.

    Also the main reason I bought the 5.0 is for Bible Study. Bible apps for Android are not as advanced as their iOs counterparts. I lose so much of the benefits of Olivtree Bible software for example.

    So, the 5.0 will go up on eBay and I will wait for the next gen iTouch which will be a 4 incher at least, I hope

    • Shgy1

      Tell me when you put it on ebay. I would like to try my bible sfotwares on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tehkraft Kevin Kraft

    off topic a bit, but can anyone tell me what verizon motorola phone is in the comparison shot? the one running cyanogen with the google music app playing a terry pratchett audiobook. it looks a lot like a moto triumph, but the screen isnt big enough (not to mention the triumph isn’t on V). too small to be bionic (among other things). image here: http://cdn.androidcommunity.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/IMG_07241-540×360.jpg

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5U6KVP4UJHJKMDZ3V3X3PGY54E J

    “the Galaxy Player 5 is a novelty at best and redundant at worst” Yes, I guess you’re right unless you count the 32 SD expansion slot, the GPS,  the FM radio, and the 5 inch screen. The iTouch has all of those too. Oh, that’s right , it doesn’t.

  • Tonsarun

    What app for save youtube

  • Yordan809

    worst video ive ever seen -__-

  • Blackdog

    It’s puzzling to me that this is not a bigger niche.  With significant data/phone contract costs and increasing availability of free wifi would think there are many people who would want a device for browsing, email, google voice, skype, GPS, weather…AND… a video and mp3 player!
    5″ seems like the perfect size. ( I’ve always felt that if you are going to carry around a 10″ tablet, why not carry around a 10″ netbook that can really do some work?)  10″ is just too big to be convenient- especially if you don’t carry a pocketbook/purse all day.

    I want something that had no data contract, as large a screen as I can fit in my pocket or on a belt pouch, wifi, browser, microSD card and GOOD mp3 and video player.  This seems to fit the bill pretty well. And Android, even gingerbrad, offers a great alternative to the closed-gate, i-generation, control-freak mentality of the apple-pharm.

    Even in this recession/depression, it seems that most folks have no problem shelling out well over $100 each month for a smartphone payment, and that’s a bit mystifying to me.  But with a good old reliable Moto Razr for phone calls- I can easily get almost everything else (assuming I don’t need or want 3G/4G) for free.  Good deal to me.  Although I certainly wish this had replaceable battery and dual-core processor, it’s a pretty nice package for 2011/2012.  I’m going to bite after price drops post-Christmas.

    • spark55155

      You might want to consider buying now.  Best Buy’s price for the Samsung Galaxy Player 5 was $229, a markdown of $40 off full retail, last week for Black Friday, but I heard they’re maintaining their lower prices till January.    If the 5-inch platform doesn’t become a big seller, even if this model sells out, it might actually be taken off the market, so I wouldn’t wait to buy it.

      • Blackdog

        @0ab8c40bda43e943694d67ac3bc9da1c:disqus
        Thanks for the tip and the BB info.

      • Blackdog

         @0ab8c40bda43e943694d67ac3bc9da1c:disqus Price on BB appears to be back up at $269.

    • guest

      I got mine for 242.00 with super saver shipping a Amazon. I freaking love this thing! I use it more than my dual-core 10 inch, Honeycomb tablet or my netbook. pop it in a shirt pocket and love the good amount of volume it provides. It’s my go anywhere device, while when I do ever use the 10 inch tablet, it’s just around the house. Not to mention this beauty just uses a typical mini usb cable to charge it, whereas my 10 has some proprietary wall charger with a brick. Get one now; you’ll love it.

    • Labougie49

      You certainly nailed my situation. I don’t need or want a smartphone and the monthly charges that come with it, and the Galaxy gives me everything I DO want in an attractive package. I haven’t had video streaming hiccups either. Works for me–I love it. 

  • David Allday

    Has anyone used skype on the Galaxy WIFI – expecially usign the front camera?

    • guest

      yup, done call and video testing. works fine. there’s also a review on youtube of a guy doing a video call. look for user “Bored at work” he’s the guy

      • David Allday

        It’s booredatwork and the video is at http://booredatwork.com/2011/11/02/samsung-galaxy-player-5-0-review/
        Thanks

      • David Allday

        checked and that was the galaxy player 5.0 not the wifi 5.0. I think the player is running Android 2.3.5 where as the wifi is running 2.2.2. Seems it needs the upgrade to use Skype with the front camera. Wonder whne the upgrade will be around :-)

      • David Allday

        got one running 2.2 and skype video seems to work with front camera.
        such a nice machine could not resist the offer in the shop. Now to find a case.

  • Brendan Robert Davis

    I carry this with my Trac Phone at all times.

  • http://usb3gvn.com USB 3G

    I like it. Thank you very much!

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    I like it.

  • Stevef

    We are looking for a pocket sized notification device to use by supervisors in a large mfg facility.  This looks like the one that is the right size and good quality.  I have already been working on the app and just needed the right hardware.  A 7″ tablet is just too big for the task.

    • http://twitter.com/alphaomegaDM Steve

      A 5″ tablet is also too big for a notification device, and one more device to carry.  Don’t they already have cell phones?  why not just call them?

  • http://usb3gvn.com USB 3G

    Well, good news for me,
    thanks!

  • http://www.mantrais.com/android-application-development.php Android app development

    Samsung Galaxy 5 is really good with great features and specification.

  • http://www.mantrais.com/android-application-development.php Android app development

    Samsung Galaxy 5 is really good with great features and specification.

  • Michel

    I like my Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0
    Videochat is very nice.
    But what i don’t like is the platic back that’s white.
    I buy full black Galaxy player 5.0 it’s so nice.
    When i was in the airplane i waching 3 different movies and alot of music
    Sorry for my bad  english; i live in Holland and I’m 12 years old :p.

  • http://www.lovefreeiphone.com/ Free IPhone & Free Gadgets

    I’d like to own one of these to try it out. The screen looks huge. What carrier are you guys using.

  • Paul Arias

    Bought one two weeks ago, and loving every minute. Great sound and video quality. Takes really good pictures and videos. Easy to use. Tons of great apps, but it is an Android. I didn’t want another cell phone, only something I could text with; and this surpassed my hopes. With Skype and the build in mic and cam; I can make calls and video chats as long as I have WiFi. The WiFi part is my only regret; but for a non-cell phone, multimedia MP3 player; what would expect. For the money; best purchase I made this year by far. 

  • Jhoana Blaine

    How do I use the internal storage? It won’t let me save files. 

  • Maine

    Hi, my galaxy is stuck on the main screen I can’t unlock it or even turn it off can anyone help me please?

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.pachecoscorpio Susan Pacheco-Scorpio

    Does anyone happen to know where online I can find a replacement screen to install myself for my white Samsung Galaxy 5.0 player. I don’t know how but I discovered the screen was cracked and I can’t find anywhere online to purchase it or even a video on how to install the replacement glass. I’ve replaced glass on some of my apple products but this one is a mystery. There is nothing online. Can anyone help or have any suggestions?