As the successor to the previous Galaxy S-based Galaxy Player 5.0, the Galaxy Player 5.8 features a bodyshell styled in the vein of the Galaxy S III as well as minor improvements to its specifications, with the ultimate goal of the device being an educational aid, rather than a multimedia device, as Samsung has included the first instance of its new Learning Hub service which includes access to educational tools and texts for students.
While the Galaxy Player series is an obvious attempt to expand Android outside of smartphones, the biggest problem with the series is Samsung’s lack of marketing for the series and for the devices themselves outside of Europe and South Korea, especially in the United States. The Galaxy Player series was originally intended to compete against the iPod Touch as a feature-packed alternative with supposedly better all around specifications, but ended up falling flat in the marketplace due to a complete lack of marketing and awareness by the company, which all but ensured its commercial failure in the US.
While its safe to say that the Galaxy Player 5.8 will improve upon past versions of devices in the series in terms of specifications with Android Ice Cream Sandwich and a qHD display with a microSDHC slot for good measure along with either 16 or 32GB of internal memory and even GPS support, the biggest issue currently facing the device and series is one of relevance.
When the initial Galaxy Player and series was announced, it marked Google’s willingness to certify dedicated media players for Google Apps and Marketplace access after years of Android-based PMPs without such certification seemingly proved that there was a demand for such devices in the face of the popularity of the iPod Touch, which is still far and away the most popular dedicated media player on the market.
Now two years after the first Galaxy Player model was announced, Samsung still seems committed to the idea of a dedicated Android-based media player with this latest model, but it still hasn’t solved the most important question: Who is this device for? Once it can answer that question effectively without stumbling over itself, only then will the Galaxy Player 5.8 find its place in the wider marketplace, especially as smaller competitors such as Cowon have carved out solid niches with Android-based media players that focus on audio playback and performance without needing to rely on display sizes as a key selling point.
With this latest model, Samsung has to do more to sell this device to the masses, especially as the next iPhone and iPod touch loom on the horizon. If Samsung ever hopes to make these devices viable, it has to pull them out of the invisible niche they currently occupy with dedicated Android enthusiasts and they must sell the merits of the devices to the masses. Only then will the Galaxy Player series spur the innovation that Android-based media players sorely need, rather than just being smartphones with cellular radios taken out.
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Galaxy Player 5.0 as being based off the Galaxy S II. It was, in fact, built off of the original Galaxy S hardware.