The arrival of the Samsung YH-999 PMC (portable media center) provides the first serious challenge to Creative's well-received Zen PMC. Many industry analysts question the need for portable players that combine music, video, recorded TV and pictures (see It works, but would you use it? below). And despite the YH-999's attractive looks, Samsung's implementation of Microsoft's PMC specifications is unlikely to convert such critics.

With its small size and square shape, the
YH-999 is clearly a different breed to the Zen. Unlike that PMC, there is a built-in stand at the back of the device so you can set it up on a fold-down airline table while tucking into a tray of overcooked, underwhelming coq au vin.

The position of controls also differs markedly from the Zen: navigation takes place beneath the screen as opposed to either side of it. And while the YH-999 fits easily in the palm of your hand, it's too awkward to use as a music player while jogging, for example - it's just too wide.

The Samsung's 20GB hard drive offers space for nearly 80 hours of video or 10,000 music tracks. If you're used to the larger screens on portable DVD players, then the YH-999's 3.5in viewing area will take a bit of getting used to, although you can't help but be impressed by the bright TFT display.

Let's have a look

Throughout its stay at the PC Advisor offices the YH-999 drew admiring glances from colleagues. It was also the subject of - slightly unnerving - covetous looks from fellow passengers on a bus journey through London's East End. For all that, the YH-999 is a letdown in terms of battery life - especially when compared to Creative's cheaper model. Samsung claims just three hours for continuous video in contrast to the Zen's seven.

Irritatingly the YH-999's battery is not removable, so you can't carry a spare to extend play time. It also means that once the cell has reached its maximum number of recharges, only Samsung can supply a replacement to get your PMC working again.

YH-999 PMC: Specs

  • Portable Media Center
  • 20GB hard drive (holds 80 hours of recorded TV, movies or home videos)
  • 3-hour video/12-hour audio battery life, video/audio/images playback
  • MTP
  • requires Windows Media Player 10.0
  • 97x79x27mm
  • Portable Media Center
  • 20GB hard drive (holds 80 hours of recorded TV, movies or home videos)
  • 3-hour video/12-hour audio battery life, video/audio/images playback
  • MTP
  • requires Windows Media Player 10.0
  • 97x79x27mm

OUR VERDICT

If you've got a Media Center PC, download a lot of movies, spend your time travelling and can handle the price tag, it's worth considering a Portable Media Center. But despite its good looks the YH-999 is let down by insufficient battery life and the absence of a removable cell. We'd opt for Creative's cheaper Zen PMC instead.

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