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Review: Samsung u550

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Because the u550 runs Verizon's standard user interface, it has the same version of the music player that is found on other Verizon phones. There's no way to access the player when the phone is closed. You have to open the phone, and use the menu system to get to your tunes. Hopefully you're not in a hurry to find your music, because the process takes four steps. We found that the u550 was slow to open any of the V CAST services. We don't know if this is an on-board phone issue, or an issue with the EV-DO network. Either way, the u550 often took up to 10 seconds to load the music (or video) player. Once you're there, the layout and function of the music player does not differ from other Verizon phones.

You can go to the V CAST music store to buy new music, or sort through your own library using the on-screen menu. One thing to keep in mind if you are going to sideload your own tracks. Verizon's music player requires that music be located in a specific folder named my_music. If you insert a microSD card with music that is just scattered about on the card, the music player won't be able to find it.

Once you've selected the songs or playlists you want to play, the default mode is for the music to play through the speaker. But you can attach headphones with an adapter. Once the song gets going, the screen and media keys go dark to save battery power. Hitting any of the keys of the phone, including the darkened media keys, will bring the screen back to life and let you stop the music or skip through tracks.

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You can also close the u550 and access basic functions (play, pause, stop) of the media player from the front panel of the phone. There are three touch capacitance buttons located below the external display that let you interact with the player. Using the buttons was easy, though there is no haptic feedback.

One disappointing aspect of the u550's music player is that you cannot use or access any other features of the phone at the same time. The u550 can only concentrate on one task at a time, so no browsing the Web or composing messages while listening to tunes. Incoming calls pause the music player, which resumes once the call is complete.

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