Apple’s iPod touch has some serious rivals in the form of the Sony Walkman X Series and Samsung P3 PMPs.
Which one stacks up as the best for music, video, and all round appeal? Read on as the Tech Digest guide pits these mighty touchscreen handsets against one another.
Battle of the Specs: Feature Comparison
Let’s leave aside fanboy love for Apple and Sony (does Samsung have fanboys too? I’m not sure) and take a look at how the main features stack up.
This is top-of-the-line stuff. If you want detailed specifications you’d better skip to the end of the page.
For pure real estate, the iPod touch trumps both the Walkman X Series and the P3, with a 3.5-inch display compared to just 3-inch for the others.
However, when it comes to aspect ratio, the Samsung’s screen is 16:9 — perfectly suited for widescreen video — whereas the Sony has a rather bizarre 9:5 aspect ratio and the touch 3:2.
That means, in raw resolution terms, the touch (480 x 320) trumps the P3 (480 x 272) which trumps the X Series (432 x 240).
Having said all that, Sony’s screen is based on OLED technology for a much brighter, crisper display than the other two handsets.
All three handsets feature touchscreen technology, though it’s implemented in different ways.
The iPod touch is the only one to feature multitouch, letting you make various two-fingered gestures (so to speak) to perform tasks such as zooming in and out of photos.
The Samsung P3 offers a haptic-enabled touchscreen. In other words, you’ll get physical vibration feedback when you perform certain tasks.
Sony’s a little quiet on exactly what its touchscreen handles, so I’m afraid I’m going to presume it’s single-finger pecking and swiping for controlling the user interface.
Audio and Video
So what can these babies play?
Audio-wise, the iPod touch will play AAC-LC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV files.
The Walkman X Series will also play PCM and non-DRM WMA files, while the Samsung beats both by also playing OGG and FLAC.
When it comes to video, the touch is effectively stuck with Quicktime files, whereas the P3 will also play back Shockwave and Windows Media file, and the Walkman X Windows Media 9 files.
- Both the Sony and Samsung players feature an FM radio.
- The Samsung P3 can be used as a voice recorder.
- Both the Walkman and iPod touch feature Wi-Fi for access to the Internet
- The iPod touch comes in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB capacities.
- The Sony Walkman X Series comes in 16GB and 32GB capacities.
- The Samsung P3 comes in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB capacities.
The iPod touch is a bit like the Swiss Army Knife of portable devices compared to the Walkman X and P3 players.
It features access to the iTunes application store and can be used for gaming and a whole host of other apps. It can even be used to make VoIP calls over a Wi-Fi connection by adding free software.
The iPod touch offers up to 36 hours of music playback and up to 6 hours of video playback.
The Sony X Walkman Series offers up to 33 hours of music and 9 hours of video playback.
The Samsung P3 offers up to 30 hours of music and 5 hours of video playback.
You can pick up the 8GB iPod touch for around £165, with the 16GB model coming in at £214 and the 32GB model at £283.
Sony’s 32GB NWZ-X1060 comes in at £279 while the 16GB NWZ-X1050 model is £209. Much the same as the touch in fact.
The Samsung YP-P3 range has an RRP of £110 for the 8GB model, £170 for the 16GB model and £200 for the 32GB model. Quite a bit cheaper especially on the higher capacity models.
Which is Best?
It hardly seems fair to compare the vast feature set of the touch with the efforts of Sony and Samsung, so I’ll focus on the multimedia aspects because that’s a core function of all three units.
- All three units will happily store all of the music you own on CDs, though the method for adding it will vary from player to player.
- The touch relies heavily on iTunes, whereas the Sony and Samsung players use Windows Media Player.
- There’s less of an issue today with iTunes’ proprietary format, since Apple removed the DRM from most, if not all, of its online music. That means you can move purchased tracks around without worrying about copy protection.
- I’m not entirely clear what levels of DRM are in place on the other devices, but it will depend partly on where / if you purchase music online.
- Ripping CDs from your personal collection, or obtaining audio from (ahem) other sources won’t likely cause you a problem on any of the players.
- The Samsung and Sony devices run rings around the touch when it comes to audio and video playback formats. Whether that matters depends on what types of files you’re going to want to listen to and watch on the move. The iPod won’t touch Flash/Shockwave or Windows Media files, whereas the others will, but that won’t stop you watching YouTube videos.
- There’s no denying that Sony’s OLED screen is very nice, and a more advanced than either Samsung or Apple currently offer.
- Sony’s audio credentials may also trump the other two, with boasts of noise cancellation and audio boosting technology that the others don’t offer.
If I was buying a unit purely to play music and video, I think I’d plump for the… Sony. I like the Walkman brand and think the device looks pretty slick, has some decent cutting-edge technology built in, is obviously made for music, and offers Internet access.
Then again, the price is almost identical to that of the iPod touch which can do so much more.
The Samsung units are definitely nice and can be picked up quite a bit cheaper, too.
Yep, I sat on the fence for a while. I’m an Apple fanboy at heart, and I have an iPhone, so I’d be quite happy to recommend the iPod touch. I know it’s not for everyone, though.
The fact is that these three devices are both very capable multimedia players. It really comes down to how much you want your portable player to do, which company you’ve pledged allegiance to, and how much cash you have to spend.
Bear in mind that Apple could well revamp the iPod touch later this year.
Here’s the full specification rundown as published by each manufacturer.
|Product Type||MP3 Player|
|Storage Type||Flash Memory|
|Memory Capacity||8GB / 16GB / 32GB|
|Display Type||TFT LCD|
|Display Resolution||WQVGA (480 x 272)|
|Output power(@16 Ohm Earphones)||20mW/Ch|
|SD MMC Expansion Slot||No|
|Available Colour||Black / Silver|
|Special Functions (Bluetooth)||Bluetooth 2.1+EDR|
|Etc.||Haptic (Vibration) feedback, Widget|
|Battery Playback Time (Audio)||30|
|Battery Playback Time (Video)||5|
|Music Storage Capacity(@128kbps MP3)||1000 songs (4GB) / 2000 songs (8GB) / 4000 songs (16GB) / 8000 songs (32GB)|
|Battery Voice Recording Time||5|
|Memory Voice Recording Time||76hrs (4GB) / 152hrs (8GB) / 304hrs (16GB) / 608hrs (32GB) at 128kbps|
|Charging Time (PC)||4.5|
|Charging Time (Adapter)||3|
|Video Storage Capacity||67hrs (4GB) / 137 hrs (8GB) / 279hrs (16GB) / 560hrs (32GB)|
|Dimensions for Unit W x H x D||102 x 52,7 x 9,9 mm|
|Weight for Unit||96|
|File Format Supported||MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV, AAC, FLAC, JPEG, Bitmap, PNG, SWF, WMV, H.264, MPEG|
|VOR (Voice Operated Recording)||No|
|VER (Voice Enhanced Recording)||No|
|Voice Enhanced Playback||No|
|Voice Recording(bit rate)||Yes|
|Video-In Recording (TV Recording)||No|
|Moblie TV Recording||No|
|Adjustable Play Speed||Yes|
|TTS (Text to Speech)||Yes|
|STT (Speech to Text)||No|
|OS Compatibility||P: Windows XP or higher (Vista) UMS: Windows 2000, Windows XP or higher (Vista)|
|USB Connection(MTP/UMS)||MTP (Europe / North America / Australia) UMS (Other Countries)|
|Connectivity (USB Version)||USB2.0|
|Library( Artist, Album,Genre,Title DB sorting)||Yes|
|PC Playlist (SPL)||Yes|
|PC Playlist (WPL)||Yes|
|Included accessories||Earphone, SW CD, USB Cable|
Sony NWZ-X1050 / NWZ-X1060 X Series Walkman
|High speed data transfer||YES|
|Memory size (GB)||16 / 32|
|Equaliser||YES (5 Band)|
|Music Searching Methods||All Songs / Album / Artist / Genre / Release Year / Playlists / Folder|
|Music Play Mode||Normal / Repeat / Shuffle / Shuffle&Repeat / Repeat 1 Song Playback Range Selection (All Range / Selected Range) Intelligent Shuffle (Time machine Shuffle / Shuffle All)|
|Video Play Mode||Normal (Continuous playback is not supported)|
|Photo Play Mode||Normal (Flick Operation is supported, slide show is not supported)|
|Podcast Play Mode||Normal (Continuous playback is not supported)|
|CD Cover Art Display||Searching / Now Playing / Album Scroll|
|Drag and Drop||YES|
|Display resolution||WQVGA (432×240)|
|Display type||OLED (colour)|
|Screen size (inch)||3|
|Horizontal / Vertical display||YES|
|Digital sound preset||NO|
|VPT||YES (Studio / Live / Club / Arena / Matrix / Karaoke)|
|Noise Cancelling||YES (Digital)|
|Wallpaper Settings||YES (User Setting)|
|FM tuner||YES (30 presets)|
|Battery life – continuous playback music (h)||33|
|Battery life – continuous playback video (h)||9|
|Charging time (full charge) (h)||3|
|Capacity (audio files)||4000 (at 128kbps)|
|Capacity (video) (h)||62 (at 384kbps)|
|Headphones||YES (13.5mm EX earbud / SML)|
|Headphone extension cable||NO|
|Extra ear buds for headphones (small/medium/large)||YES|
|Windows Media® Player 11 (CD)||YES|
|mp3 Conversion Tool||NO|
|Media Manager for WALKMAN®||YES|
|Content Transfer (CD)||YES|
|Operation Guide (CD)||YES|
|Quick Start Guide||YES|
|AC mains power adaptor||NO|
Apple iPod touch
Height: 4.3 inches (110 mm)
Width: 2.4 inches (61.8 mm)
Depth: 0.33 inch (8.5 mm)
Weight: 4.05 ounces (115 grams)
* 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB flash drive
* Holds up to 1,750, 3,500, or 7,000 songs in 128-Kbps AAC format
* Holds up to 10,000, 20,000, or 25,000 iPod-viewable photos
* Holds up to 10 hours, 20 hours, or 40 hours of video
* 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch display
* 480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 pixels per inch
* Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
* Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
* Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
* Nike + iPod support built in
* Maps location-based service
* Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
* Impedance: 32 ohms
TV and video:
* Support for 480p and 576p component TV out
* H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
Battery and power:
* Built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery
* Playback time
– Music playback time: Up to 36 hours when fully charged
– Video playback time: Up to 6 hours when fully charged