Hands-on with Samsung's Galaxy Player 4 and 5 micro-tablets

Following in Apple's shoes, the Galaxy Player line is to the Galaxy S/SII smartphones as the iPod Touch is to the iPhone: Wi-Fi only, not a phone and cheaper. We got to play with them and here's our takeaway.

Big or Small?

You have two options, both appropriately named: the 4-inch Galaxy Player 4 and the 5-inch Galaxy Player 5. Despite the difference in screen size and battery life, the two are nearly identical.

Personally, we preferred the Galaxy Player 5 with its larger screen and LED flash (Galaxy Player 4 doesn't have one) because we don't need to lean in as close to watch movies and browse the Web. The extra inch goes a long way: you get a roomier touchscreen keyboard.

We've said a 7-inch tablet is perfect for watching movies and reading in public, but we're thinking a 5-inch one works just as well. We could easily find ourselves slipping the Galaxy Player 5 into a coat pocket without it feeling like extra weight (more on that in a second).

Stepping down to the 4-inch Galaxy Player 4, we'd have to say it looks very much like a clone of the first-gen iPhone. They both do (though, to be fair, anything with a screen and a black border would), but that honking chrome bezel around the screen just looks so outdated now.

Company's like Dell have tried to make a 5-inch "mini tablet" before, but they were all short-lived — mostly because the old Android OS wasn't up to snuff, but it's different now. Android's matured a lot since the early days.

Speedy and Plasticky

Warning: if you don't like plastic, you won't like these new Galaxy Players because the backs are made entirely of it, giving the two devices a rather cheap-like quality to them. That said, they are light. Neither would win any "world's thinnest" records, but it's what's on the inside that counts, right?

Internally, both have a 1GHz processor, displays with 800 x 480 resolution, Android 2.3.5, front and rear cameras (VGA up front and 3.2-megapixels on the back), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, mini USB and of course 8GB of internal storage (expandable to 32GB via microSD card).

How do the devices perform with Samsung's latest TouchWiz UI for Android? Not too bad. Browsing the web seemed snappy, video playback was bright and vibrant and audio seemed loud, even in a room full of reporters. We wouldn't say the devices are lightning fast, as in apps opening instantly, but it's mostly unnoticeable. You won't be left tapping your foot during that half a nano-second from pressing an app to it launching.

One big negative: in terms of the cameras, just forget it. Both cams on the front and back take grainy pics and the 720p HD video recording leaves a lot to be desired.

Price and Release

Both devices will arrive in stores on October 16. The Galaxy Player 4 will be $230 and the Galaxy Player 5 will be $270. Is the extra inch, LED flash and larger battery worth the $40 difference? We'd wager it is. If you've ever played with an Android smartphone with a 4.5-inch screen and then looked back at an iPhone, the difference is jarring.

Samsung says it believes that one size doesn't fit all. We agree. It doesn't. There's plenty of room for a 5-inch mini computer.

Via Samsung

All photos for DVICE by Raymond Wong

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