Samsung YP-U2 MP3 Player

MP3 players, you say

I had the chance to talk to a guy whose job is to review and test MP3 players. I asked him which one, of all the available MP3 players out there that he thought was the best buy. Not so surprisingly he replied something like; “I can’t see how any sane person would buy something other than an iPod”. That left me a bit baffled as I’m quite of the opposite opinion. I can’t imagine why any sane person would go buy an iPod.

What’s wrong with iPods?

First, let me say that I think that iPods look very good, but seriously who’d buy a player based on looks (OK, OK, put your hands down you fashion victims!). They also have the wheel, which is a very good user interface. Similar wheels have been used for ages on radios to tune into the right frequency – nothing new there. They also have a silly amount of accessories. I’m sure you can get a vibrator case for your iPod (but who’d… put your hands down!). Sadly that’s about it.
The battery life is mediocre to be lenient. They cost too much for what they do. The real gripe I have with them is on the software side. You see, I like Linux, for the freedom mostly. No licenses, no DRM, no 3rd party telling me what I can or can’t do. With Linux I can do whatever I want. And I really mean whatever I want. With an iPod, I can’t do anything other than what Mr Jobs allows me to do.
Take iTunes for example – a horrible application. First of all you, must have iTunes installed to run your iPod. You have no choice (sure you can have a 3rd party application installed, but you must have an application for your iPod to work). The iPod isn’t smart enough to present itself to any modern computer, say as a removable disk. Then it comes to iTunes Music Store (iTMS) which is riddled with overpriced music, that are using a proprietary DRM system. This means that you can only use iTMS if you have an iPod, or you could use iTunes as stand alone player but you’d still have to install iTunes. Sure you can burn your music to a CD and then rip the CD to MP3s. But that’s hassle and it’ll degrade the music quality. No thanks! iPod, iTunes and iTunes Music Store – a chain linked together just as tightly as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Internet Information Server and Microsoft Active Server Pages.
And then there’s the issue of having to manually disconnect the iPod from its dock from iTunes, how 1997! Microsoft ActiveSync? has worked fine by just yanking the PDA out of its cradle for years! And my friend can still not queue up a whole album when he’s listening to mucis on his iPod Nano. Userfriendlyness…
If I could use an iPod without any software on my computer, and it would have a decent battery life, then I’d seriously consider overseeing the other flaws.

What I was looking for.

Well, I wanted to be able to listen to music primarily on my way to work, and also when going for very long bike rides, namely to Nurburg. Because I’m carrying a lot of other gadgets already the MP3 player had to be miniscule. I did consider using my PDA/Phone as MP3 player, but as I wanted a long lasting battery, I decided it would be better to have a separate MP3 player and I could turn the PDA/Phone off to save battery.
The player also had to be solid state – No hard disks on a motorbike, thank you. I don’t have a very large record collection, so I wasn’t overly bothered by the capacity. Large is better, but if I want variation, I don’t mind swapping some files.
However, software was critical, or, rather the lack of software. I use Linux as my primary OS, but I also have a laptop, and I have a computer at work, and a few more. Therefore I didn’t want to have to install the software onto all machines, even if there was software for my Linux machine. It was therefore critical that my MP3 player could be plugged into my computer without additional drivers/software; Removable Disk was perfect.
Battery life was another critical factor; I don’t want to charge the player all the time, and sometimes I’ll need over 8h play time. This meant that anything under 10h was a no-no.
Charging was the last critical factor. I needed the player to be able to either have a very tiny charger, or no charger at all. The reason for this is that I’ve got a lot of gadgets already, and travelling on the motorbike means I have limited storage capacity. Even if I’d have tons of room, I wouldn’t want to ride with the kitchen sink anyway.
And if the MP3 player could double as a USB memory stick that would be cool too.

Enter the Samsung YP-U2QB Ultra Slim MP3 player

The Samsung YP-U2 2GB MP3 player, with the Sony In-Ear buds, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

The Samsung YP-U2 2GB MP3 player, with the Sony In-Ear buds and my Nurburgring lanyard.

The Samsung YP-U2 charging in my desktop machine, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Here's the little player - this time charging in my Linux machine... cool

Samsung YP-U2 Charging in a Dell X1 Laptop, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Here's the little player charging in my laptop

that!). But it’s the rest that’s the really cool parts.
It’s got 2GB capacity which means that I can fill it with quite a lot of music. At the moment I have 350 tunes on it, all encoded in 192kbps bit rate. Quality!
Then it comes with a full sized USB connector, which means that I don’t need to carry another cable to connect it up. I can just plug it into the USB port, and up it pops as a removable disk. Coooool!
But wait, there’s more! While it’s connected to the computer, it’s also charging. Excellent! Sure the computer has to be turned on for it to charge, but I’ve always got computers on in my house. And if I don’t, then surely I can turn a computer on for a meagre 2.5h to charge the MP3 player fully. Should the player happen to die in the middle of my commute, I can charge it from my laptop.
When it’s connected to the computer, I can simply drag over my MP3 files and organize them just as I want them. Not only can I drag over my MP3 files, but any other file too, meaning that the MP3 player doubles as a USB Memory Stick. I’m sure I could run Linux off it if I wanted. Sweet!
An added bonus of this is that many car- and home stereos start to come with USB ports, this means that I can play my own tunes, but not only that, I can play my tunes whilst charging my player. Double bonus!
This player is also very small, and light. That means I can keep it in my shirt pocket if I want, or I can store it in my headphone pouch. Just like I wanted it.
The user interface is dominated by the small screen and the big 4-way button with a centre button. The screen is clear, and doesn’t show much information, but that doesn’t bother me. The buttons work well, so well that I can control the player through my jeans whilst the player is in my pocket (click wheel anyone..?). Initially I was clicking the pause-button when I was trying to get the key-lock off, but that was an easy thing to learn not to do.


I’m no audiophile so you’re not going to get a super duper analysis of the audio quality. To me the sound is “Better than I need it to be”. I’ve been using it with my Sony in-ear-buds, and the sound is awesome. In fact, I’ve had to turn down all those extra bass and 3D effects as they tend to add a bit too much on the high end of the spectrum. Caz uses her player with the supplied headphones and they’re well up for the job, no complaints at all. The volume control goes from 0 to 30, so you can adjust the volume to suit you just fine.

The technical mumbo-jumbo

Here’s the most important technical stuff, if you’re interested.

  • 2 GB storage capacity
  • It plays these formats: MP3, WAV, WMA, ASF and the all important Ogg Vorbis
  • Uses USB 2 for fast transfer and charging of the internal battery
  • Charges in 2.5h and lasts for 13h
  • Dimensions 88mm x 25mm x 13mm, weight 30 grams.

All in all – a tiny wonder by today’s standards.


All in all I’m very pleased with this player. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do; drowns out the noise on the commute for longer than I can use it. It’s got enough storage to keep a good enough selection of music. It doubles as a memory stick when I’ll need it. It simply plugs into any standard USB port for transfer and even charging. I don’t have to install software (even if there was software included), I don’t have to lug around a charger. That’s user freedom for you.
But I’ve saved the best of it all for you! This player is only £69.99 from Amazon!