It’s almost criminal how much hot, steamy gadget action you can get for less than a hundred clams. Take Samsung’s new YP-U3, a pack-of-gum sized audio player that has 2GB of flash memory, FM radio, data storage, LED display, EQ controls, and voice recording for all those brilliant Web 3.0 ideas you get while riding the bus.
The U3 is so small and light that you could damn near lose it in a shirt pocket. And you might want to keep it there, because its gaudy color choices – our review unit was a loud fluorescent green – and plastic-on-plastic build quality won’t win over fashion-conscious shoppers. Looks can be deceiving, though, because the U3 has some cool tricks up its sleeve: a retractable USB 2.0 connector slides out the bottom of the player and the flat-surface navigation buttons are super touch-sensitive. The menus and features are a breeze to figure out (thankfully I had no RTFM incidents along the way) and the LED has a groovy bright-blue display. The voice recorder activates with the flick of a button, and the mic is surprisingly sensitive – I was able to capture clear dialogue on a TV from about ten feet away. The earbuds are cheapo and produce a thin, tinny sound (I blame it on Apple, for setting the Crappy-White-Earbuds standard), but when I hooked in my trusty Grado SR 80 cans, the audio had plenty of depth and detail.
It may not be as elegant or stylish as the iPod Shuffle, but for about the same coin the U3 gives you double the memory, more features…and kitschy colors visible from 200 feet!