The Apple iPod has dominated the portable music market for the past five years since its introduction in 2001. This fact isn’t disputed. What is questioned about the iPod success is why? What is it about the tiny device that has made it Apples most well known and best selling product? For the past five years companies have been attempting to develop a challenger to the iPod and so far, none have been successful. The newest digital audio device to hit the market is the Samsung Z5.
Samsung as well as other manufacturers have tried to replicate what makes iPod such a success. These include central scroll wheel, their easy and fun to use hardware, vast amounts of accessories, connectability to Mac and Windows operating systems, an easy to navigate central menu, and a music store with simple and easy connectability, conveniently also owned by Apple.
Samsung’s new Z5 is specifically a challenger to the ever popular iPod Nano. The Z5 mimics some of the basic aspects of the iPod Nano. Samsung’s newest player is approximately the same size (3.5 by 1.6 inches), very similar color choices (silver or black), 2 and 4 gigabyte versions, and even the same price as the iPod Nano at $200 and $250 respectively.
The Samsung player is not the first new player to try to repeat the unparallel success of the player. Enter it in the line of multiple other companies’ attempts to challenge the king of all players. Yet another new player is set to be released soon touting even more feature than the iPod Nano, but the results just aren’t the same.
Among it’s similarities, the Z5 presents a very familiar software and scrolling device. Designed by the same man whose concepts formed the basis of the iPod’s hardware, the Samsung device is so close to the iPod’s click wheel design many former iPod users find them selves drawing circle’s around the Z5’s square button. The menu is also very similar in design to the iPod, an intentional feature which allows transfers from the iPod to easily feel at home. Another similar feature is the touch pad inside the square navigation frame. This touch pad allows the user to quickly scroll through lists as well as click without lifting your finger.
The Samsung Z5 actually adds to the iPod’s proven design in several ways. The first of these is that the song is always displayed at the bottom of the screen. One of the most annoying features of the iPod is that you must go to a separate menu just to see the song that is currently playing, a nuisance that the Z5 eliminated. Dedicated volume buttons provide the user with quick volume adjustment. If you know your music by looks rather than names, when a song or CD title are highlighted a handy thumbnail of the CD cover pops up. The hold feature on the Z5 helps alleviate some user frustration by displaying a padlock when the unit is on hold.
If a user is considering the Z5 one thing they need to know is that it is almost two-thirds more thick than the iPod Nano. The reason, a bigger battery that lasts approximately 35 hours between charges, over two times longer than the Nano lasts.
The Samsung’s potential downfall starts from the hardware up. Built upon Window’s based software, the Z5 as well as other digital media players based on the software are incompatible with Mac operating systems. This pitfall makes an ever growing segment of computer users ineligible to use the Samsung Z5. It is also unable to playback songs from the internet’s most popular music retailer iTunes.
A look at all of the features of the Z5 leads most users to one conclusion. Did the Samsung do some things right? Of course! From the sleek menu to a fingerprint hiding case, there are some features the Z5 perfected. But what’s wrong with it? Lots, unfortunately. The thick design detracts from the overall styling of the system and sensitive touchpad makes good hand eye coordination a must. Top all of these problems off with lack of Mac and iTunes support and the Z5 appears doomed from the start. The next iPod killer fails to live up to expectations and even though it is the second best on the market, it will not garner a large enough market share to attain third party accessory support.
To get your moneys worth out of your MP3 player your best off to stick with the iPod. Its cheap third party accessories are a very welcome accompaniment to the number one portable media device on the market. IPods are always available used to save a few dollars. And as a last reminder, remember this, the iPod is the number one media player for a reason.