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printed October 31, 2014
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Review: Samsung Propel

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Other than the lack of a 3.5mm jack, which is becoming an increasingly annoying epidemic among recent Samsung models, Propel's music player is superior. The lack of a 3.5mm jack is exacerbated by AT&T's infuriating decision not to include any headphones with the phone.

Music tracks load easily via drag-and-drop or using Windows Media Player. However, you will be prompted to reformat a microSD card you use from a previous phone. If you're using a microSD card from a previous phone filled with music files, off-load your tune files first and drag-and-drop them back onto the Propel once it reformats the card.

My biggest music playback complaint: you can't put tracks into Shuffle mode until a track is playing, which means you have to choose a track to start first.

The music play screen seems sparse, even though the only thing missing is album artwork. Otherwise you get all the important track information, as well as easy soft menu access to your varying libraries and playlists. In the Options menu you get an equalizer and other options, as well as an unusual Properties selection, which gives you handy data information such as file size, file format, and date and time created.

The music player stays active as you shift to some applications such as Web surfing, but not all; you are prompted to disable the music while picture taking, for instance. When you exit the camera, the music automatically restarts.

Active track information is displayed on the bottom of the home screen and the nav array stays active for skip forward, skip back and pause.

AT&T's Napster-partnered music store is a bit clunky – every page takes around 30 seconds to load, and music downloads take a couple of minutes, depending on track length. The service is herky-jerky and time-consuming enough to make it quite frustrating to use.

Propel also includes the subscription-based XM radio. Signals are received through the cell network, though, not from actual XM satellites. Before the service boots, you are warned the service swallows up a lot of data minutes, which means you better have an unlimited data plan. Caveat emptor.

 

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