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Samsung Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 review
What is it?
Samsung's latest iPod touch challenger, based on the Android 2.3 operating system.
Bright, vivid 4.2-inch screen; multi-codec support for video and audio; music sounds superb; lightweight and pocket-friendly.
Battery life disappointing; Android interface a little cumbersome; rubbish cameras; inaccessible microSD slot.
The bottom line
A competent mobile entertainment player that excels at music and video, but falls short in other areas, including battery life.
There's little doubt that Samsung's Galaxy S Wi-Fi series is aimed firmly at the iPod touch market. This latest model, the fourth Galaxy S Wi-Fi, comes with a 4.2-inch capacitive touch-screen, Android 2.3 and leads on its gaming capabilities, with FIFA 12 and Need For Speed bundled and a host of other game trials pre-installed.
Now, Android is a capable-enough operating system, but it's not as user-friendly or intuitive to use as Apple's own iOS. The overall functionality is almost identical, but there's no doubt Apple's 'it just works' approach gives it the edge for those who don't want too much hassle.
If you're looking for an all-singing, all-dancing tool with decent multimedia capabilities, the iPod touch wins hands down. However, if your main priority is multimedia playback, then the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 proves more than a match for Apple.
First, the Galaxy S Wi-Fi boasts far superior format support, with most audio and video bases covered, including FLAC for audiophiles and Flash video. The net result is that you can simply transfer and play most - if not all - of your existing media collection without having to convert or think twice. Sure, it's not as simple as using iTunes, but it's still a better choice for the more discerning audiophile.
Second, Samsung has sensibly provided a microSD slot for additional storage. With on-board storage capped at 8GB or 16GB, it helps keep the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 price-competitive, but the fact you have to remove the flimsy back plastic case and battery to swap cards leaves us distinctly unimpressed.
The next bright spot is the built-in music player, which is skinned with Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface. We love the fact it packs all the functionality you need into the Now Playing screen, and it also provides playback controls on the lock screen too.
The adjustment tools are impressive - although not quite as clever as the Personalization Controls found on the Philips GoGear Connect 3. There's plenty of scope for fine-tuning thanks to Samsung's SoundAlive technology. There are 10 presets supplied - including a clever auto setting that intelligently changes settings to match the track currently being played - along with two user settings, which give you access to a seven-bar equaliser plus five additional controls, including 3D, Bass and Clarity.
Although the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2 includes stereo speakers, these - along with the supplied headphones - aren't really up to the task. Pair it with a decent set of headphones though, and the quality shines through, particularly when listening to FLAC files.
Things get even better when you access the video app. Though the player's resolution doesn't trouble Apple's Retina display, the extra real estate afforded by the 4.2-inch screen really does make a difference. Video looks vibrant, colourful and pin-sharp, with good viewing angles. As a result, we found watching TV episodes as comfortable as viewing shorter video clips - and all with a device you can slip comfortably into your pocket. One slight annoyance was lip-sync issues with a number of MP4 videos, but on the whole we were impressed with its quality and versatility.
One big disappointment was the 1,500mHa battery. If you want to prevent it leaking charge you'll need to make sure wi-fi is only enabled when you need it, which is thankfully easy to do from the status bar. Considering the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 5.0 ships with a 2,500mHa battery, you'd think Samsung could have squeezed a bigger battery in here. It does take a little of the shine off the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2.
Ultimately, Samsung's Galaxy S Wi-Fi series is going to compete in the same space as the iPod touch. If you want a general entertainment and mobile internet device with decent audio and video capabilities, then the iPod touch will win hands down. But if your primary motivation is an excellent - and versatile - portable media player with everything else a bonus, then we think you might find yourself swayed by the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 4.2, despite the so-so battery life.
Expansion: microSD, up to 32GB
Screen (size, type, resolution): 4.2-inch colour capacitive touchscreen, 800x480 pixels
Audio formats supported: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, OGG, FLAC
Video formats supported: 3GP, ASF, AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, MKV (DivX, MPEG4, WMV, H.264 codecs)
Other features: Wi-Fi, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), front stereo speaker, front and rear cameras, Gyro-sensor, GPS, Bluetooth
Stated battery life: 40 hours (audio), 6 hours (video)
Dimensions: 66x124x9mm, 118g