A couple of months ago on Chip Chick we mentioned how totally cute the Samsung U3 USB Music Player website was and that alone already got us hooked on getting the U3 based on just how adorable it was on Samsung’s website. Well lucky us – we got to review the little cutie and all I have to say it may not swing from trees or swim through water but it might as well!
The Samsung U3 USB Music Player installed pretty smoothly which is surprising for any computer that has ~cough~ Windows Vista. All you have to do is insert it into your USB port by sliding the Marked USB Release button on the side of the U3, which pops out a built in USB connector almost like a switchblade. Insert the U3 into your USB port and instantly Windows Vista picked it up and my files were visible to drop and drag. Also Windows Media Player picked it up immediately too without any searching for drivers or other nonsense. For those who are running older Windows versions or having problems installing. There is a installation Mini-CD that comes along with the player. I assume the CD is mini-sized to keep with the small theme that U3 is marketing. I would suggest only using that on desktops with CD trays that support smaller CD sizes. Putting it in a slot loading CD player may cause it to jam.
When you disconnect the U3 from your computer, the only thing I found clumsy is that when you try to push the USB connector back inside it doesn’t budge until you slide the USB Release Button on the side of the U3 forward then push in the USB connector and let the button go – which requires a lot of fingers. Then it locks inside until you want to challenge your friends to a USB switchblade fight. But once you get the hang of it – it really isn’t a big deal. All in all it was snap to install and setup.
Jumping on the touch sensitive bandwagon the U3 has specifically marked keys for Increasing sound +, Decreasing Sound – , Fast Forward >>I , and Reverse I<< but the keys don’t push in – just a light touch is required and you will be scrolling for channels on FM Radio, and increasing or decreasing the volume or selecting different menu options. With every touch a blue-ray light also flashes to add extra wow to the overall design. The touch interface has really improved from my past experiences with other Samsung products ( The Samsung Upstage – Horrible!!, the Samsung k5 – was ok). The only buttons that you have to actually press or move is the USB release button for the USB Connector, the power button which also works as select button, the hold button, and a “USER” Marked button which allows you save FM Stations as Presets as well start and stop voice recordings.
The LED colors are Blue and black which is just fine for a such a small device. I’m just glad to be able to see what I’m playing, unlike some other cheap flash based player ~cough~. Of course, I like the interface a lot – but I’m pretty used to it since I owned Samsung products with the same interface before. If you are a ipod junky you may be overwhelmed with all the embedded menu options and choices but once you see all the options and get used to what keys you should use to choose what you want on the U3 – I think you will get over it.
One thing that the U3 doesn’t lack in is features. FM Radio, Voice Recording, MP3, WMA, OGG, and ASF files are supported. I have to say I was really blown away by both the FM Radio and Voice recording. I had previously owned the Samsung K5 and I loved how it was so unique with its sliding speakers but one thing that I found disappointing was that I could never get radio reception! It was frustrating especially since I purchased it so that I could do all the other cool things as well as play the radio. Well the U3 doesn’t disappoint – it picked up all my regular FM channels as well as obscure ones that I never heard before or would have to be in another city to get their station.
I was blown away! Voice recording was equally impressive. Just push the menu button on the top right hand corner of the U3 and scroll through the options with the +, – , fast forward or Reverse buttons and select voice recording by pressing the power button key on top of the U3 and then from there you can select to record something new or play an existing recording.
After you record something the playback is awesome. My voice came in loud and clear without any signs of interference. It has to be one of the best Voice recording’s I have ever heard on this type of device. I held it to the level of my chest it and not right up to my mouth and it still sounded incredible. Another feature I thought was great was the ability to change the sound settings and increase the bass. Other features of course are the MP3 side of the player choosing songs to listen to by artists, songs and genre. You can also choose to have them repeat, shuffle, or play normal. As I said the U3 is feature packed – especially for a device so small. As for battery life, Samsung claims that the U3 can run for up to 15 hours on a single charge. Conveniently, the U3 gets charged by connecting its USB connector in to a USB port.
The U3 comes with matching color headphones, clip, and Earphone reel to keep things tidy. I’m not a fan of ear buds as I think they hurt your ear drums and are uncomfortable but I gave it a shot and it sounded really good which I didn’t think would disappoint since most Samsung earphones are pretty good. However, when I switched it to my standard headset I could really feel the bass changes I had made and other personal equalizer settings. Overall I was very impressed that this MP3 player that resembles a stick of gum, could pump out such great sound.
I highly suggest to anyone for them to purchase the Samsung U3. The fact that it comes in a variety of colors: White, Pink, Black, Neon Green, and a Neon Blue is icing on the cake. It’s available in capacities of 1 Gig, 2GB and 4 Gig capacities which is enough space to hold a decent amount of songs especially if you are using an Ipod Shuffle than this is more than enough. The 2Gb version retails for just $73.85 on Amazon. Overall, the U3 is cute, easy to use and best of all its got a whole lot of junk in its tiny trunk. Unless you just can’t bare to shun the shuffle, iTunes and all the popularity that goes along with it, how about being a trend setter and get some of your individuality back and get yourself a Samsung U3.
The Good: Great Sound, FM Radio and Voice Recording Amazing, and easy installation.
The Bad: USB connector can be extremely frustrating to insert back into U3 and will pop out unexpectedly.