Samsung adds speakers to latest MP3 player

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Ridgefield Park (NJ) - Samsung today announced a new challenger for Apple's Ipod Nano. The new "K5" does not only come in a stylish package and sufficient storage space; the device also comes with a unique new feature: A pair of slide-out speakers.

Every now and then, we see some interesting attempts to dent Apple's dominance in the portable audio player market. And most recently these attempts do not only focus on the player's traditional key feature - storage capacity - but also on design, open access to digital media and, perhaps most importantly, unique features the Ipod does not offer, at least not yet.

Take for example, Microsoft's Zune player that will borrow some design clues from the Ipod but will differentiate itself with an obvious new feature - integration of Wi-Fi capability. Samsung's new K5 will play in the league of compact and offer another unique feature that we have been waiting for since the times of the original Walkman: The device hides sleek speaker that can slide and transform the player into a pocket stereo.

Since the player will not be available until 10 September, we cannot say if those speakers will sound more like what we are used to from the average notebook or if they in fact will deliver the "rich, smooth audio" Samsung is promising in its press release. According to the company, "this groundbreaking technology delivers better sound than anything you would expect could fit in your pocket."

Aside the speakers, the player's black case design holds a 1.7 "full-color" screen that can display audio data and playback JPEG images. It is worth to note that Samsung uses an OLED display for the K5 which promises not only to use less power than average common LCDs but provide crisp graphics, which are kept in a " sparkly ice blue" theme, according to Samsung.

Other basic features include a built-in FM radio tuner and support for MP3, WMA, WMA DRM10 formats. Battery time is expected to be 30 hours when using earphones, or 6 hours in speaker mode. The K5 will be offered in two versions - with 2 GB of memory for $210 and with 4 GB for $260. Considering the feature set, the prices are reasonable, but they are slightly above its main competitor: Apple offers the 2 GB Nano for $200 and the 4 GB version for $250.

The K5 appears to be another player that, objectively, has all the genes to successfully compete with the Ipod. From a subjective view, the new player may lack the prestige of the Ipod - and its name. In a world where the Ipod is for listening to music what Google is for searching the Internet and where Xerox is synonymous for copying documents, it may be tough for audio player manufacturers to tackle Apple's dominance with quickly changing and cryptic product names such as K5, c200 or H10.