The YP-T10 is a little larger than a second-gen iPod Nano, and a few feathers heftier at 42 grams. When the player isn't turned on, you may wonder how to use it -- there are no buttons apart from a combo power/hold key, and the glossy surface appears unmarred by anything other than the display. Flip the on switch, however, and things spring to life as seven illuminated touch keys emerge from within the shiny black expanse. So that's where the buttons were hiding.
These stealthy keys -- directional navigation ones plus a select key, menu key and back button -- are the most obvious difference between the YP-T10 and its rivals. Perhaps believing that LG was onto a good thing with its touch-sensitive mobile-phone keys, Samsung has shoehorned the same technology into its MP3 players. Whether this design feature is at all practical is up for debate, but it certainly looks cool.
On the base of the player is a discreet proprietary port for USB connection -- there's none of this standard mini USB claptrap for Samsung, so watch you don't lose your transfer cable.
The main features of the T10 are an FM radio with recording; voice recorder; user-controllable equaliser and support for photo, video and text. This places the player squarely between the iPod Nano and Sansa's View as far as nifty extras are concerned.
File format support is good but not great, with MP3, WMA and OGG representing the audio team. It would have been nice to see AAC get a look-in, especially given it enjoys support from the View.
Bluetooth features on the YP-T10, but unlike Samsung stablemate the YP-S5 you can't use it to get transfer-happy with all the phones and laptops in range. The YP-T10 will pair with a wireless stereo headset for cord-free listening, but that's the extent of its Bluetooth powers.
Samsung's Media Studio software is worthy of mention. The bundled app has an iTunes feel about it, right down to the look of the integrated store -- which Australian users can browse but not buy from. Support for podcasts (which Samsung refers to as datacasts just to confuse everyone) is an impressive inclusion, while the My Style feature amuses by analysing your music library to reveal what kind of person you are. With our library focusing on gentle band Belle and Sebastian, our character was judged as 69 percent sweet, 15 percent passionate, 10 percent cheerful and 6 percent quiet. Who needs psychometric testing, anyway?
During our review of the YP-T10, one word kept coming up: cute. Fire up the player and a cute animated dog named Sammy bounces around the screen. Select a song to witness a litter of floppy-eared Sammies dance along with the beat. Combine this canine tomfoolery with the aforementioned My Style feature and you have a player that puts the aww in portable audio. The good news for those whose hearts don't melt at the sound of all this squishiness is that you can easily put Sammy down by choosing another menu theme.
Sammy-enhanced or not, the QVGA display is just gorgeous. Videos look fab and that bouncy hound jumps across the screen in sharp, smoothly rendered glory. Bring your face right up to the player and you can just barely see the pixel grid lines. Even the screens gracing the members of the iPod family don't look this good close-up. The question for video watchers is whether the lushness of the display makes up for its size -- no matter how pretty movies look, you'll be squinting to watch them on the five-centimetre screen.
Our main issue was with navigation. Non-protruding buttons are not an inherently bad thing -- hey, they're working well for the iPod Touch -- but those on the YP-T10 don't respond as well as their more refined Apple rivals. Pressing the wrong key was a common problem, especially when we were groping blindly for a right button after the backlighting had faded.
If you do choose to nab a T10, you'll be presented with a wealth of options. The player comes in 2GB (AU$149), 4GB (AU$199) and 8GB (AU$289) varieties in a colour range last seen in a roll of Lifesavers.