Remember the Samsung Galaxy Players? Well, some of us do, but probably most people forgot them or never knew they even existed. I remember mine, because I was digging for a miniUSB cable (don’t ask) and found it in one of those fabric cubes in my shelf. In fact, I found all kinds of cool stuff I had long forgotten about in there, but my Galaxy Player 3.6 was the only thing I didn’t put back.
And playing with it for a bit makes me want a new model.
My Galaxy Player isn’t a great device. It’s made of really bad glossy plastic, has a miserable 320 x 480 TFT screen, a sluggish TI single core CPU and a camera so bad it doesn’t even autofocus. But it does have two things that made it great for it’s designed purpose — a small footprint and a really good Wolfson WM1811 DAC. This thing still sounds great with my favorite headphones, and it’s small enough to live in the bottom of my jacket pocket without me knowing it’s there.
But I want a better one. And I want Samsung to build it. They can do cheap and good at a scale nobody else can.
Believe it or not, there is a market for high-end audio players. 2015 saw smartphone manufacturers once again starting to care about high-quality audio (fun fact: Samsung used to put great audio hardware in the Galaxy series, and the Nexus S was one of my favorite music players ever) and make it a marketing point in their new products. 2016 is shaping up the same way, with LG and Samsung offering quality audio hardware in the Galaxy S7 and G5. For people who like to listen to hi-res audio files, this is great. I use my LG V10 as my full-time audio player, but I still want a dedicated, smaller device — that has it’s own battery.
Forget the camera, forget a million-and-one features and functions and forget about making it too big to wear on an armband. A small music player with WiFi and Bluetooth, a connection to Google Play and a good DAC and headphone amp is enough. Just don’t try to be Sony and charge $700 too much for it. Then sign me up for first in line to buy the 128GB model.
I know I could just pick an Android phone with a premium DAC and headphone amp and use it — I’m already doing just that. But my kids have moved out, I have a little bit of disposable income, and I would spend it on an Android-powered audio player. I know I’m not alone.