Our Verdict 
A score-draw snatched from the jaws of victory, thanks to the exasperating interface
For 
Bright screen
impressive and flexible specification
punchy, energetic sound
Against 
Easily fouled controls are infuriating. How did they make it into production?
Reviewed on

Sometimes Samsung gives its designers too much leeway.

We're all for product differentiation but, when a company is as prolific as the Korean giant, the apparent need to distinguish its merchandise from every other manufacturer's – be it televisions, mobile 'phones or home cinema systems – can sometimes lead down a blind alley.

This YP-Q1, a nominal rival for Apple's all-conquering iPod nano and Sony's well-received NWZ-S639F, is a fine case in point.

For all its many positives (which we'll deal with, never fear), the Q1 has an Achilles heel – and it's purely a result of designers getting carried away.

Trigger-happy controls are exasperatingSee that diamond-shaped area below the screen? That's a touch-sensitive control panel and, frankly, the word ‘sensitive' is too mild a description – ‘hair-trigger' would be more appropriate.

More after the break

There's no certainty to any of the instructions you might attempt to give, especially if your fingers are broader than, say, cocktail-sticks.

In an attempt to produce something different, Samsung has succeeded only in producing an interface that doesn't work very well. That's a great pity, because in most other respects the Q1 is a very enjoyable machine.

The big display is bright and clear, and particularly impressive with video content – the Q1 is compatible with the BBC's iPlayer, so that's a big bonus.

Its FM radio reception and voice-recording facility are getting to be par for the course in machines of this size, but a raft of subway maps for the world's major cities is, as far as we know, a unique feature of at best questionable value.

Lose the 'phones for great, loud soundSound quality, too, is strong – or at least it is when you ditch the hopeless supplied headphones in favour of something competent.

The Q1 goes good and loud, by no means a given in MP3 players, and is a fast and energetic listen. Sweet Things' I'm In a World of Trouble sounds burly and precise, enjoying a spacious soundstage and impressively dextrous timing, with vocals well-integrated but distinct.

In fact, the Samsung seems able to cope with any style of music without fuss, and on a wide variety of file types too.

If you intend to load it with music, press ‘play' and keep well away from the control ‘diamond', it's easy to recommend